Sunday, January 27, 2008

1902 Announcement of the Adrian-Cutoff

What is unusual about this event is the bigwigs from the various railroads, including the Oregon Railway & Navigation guy. Funny thing about it, the OR&N doesn't run anywhere near the location spoken of below.

From "An Illustrated History of the Big Bend Country Embracing Lincoln, Douglas, Adams and Franklin Counties State of Washington." Published 1904 by the Western Historical Publishing Company, Spokane.
Pages 117-118.
Monday, August 4, 1902, will be remembered by the people of Lincoln county as a day of important and unusual events. Sometime previous elaborate arrangements had been made for a conference between the farmers of the Big Bend country and the presidents of three great railway lines. We have said that this was an unusual event, but the implication extends no further than this section of the country. For several years previous it had been the practice of President J. J. Hill, of the Great Northern Railway Company, to hold "heart-to-heart talks" with the farmers and stockmen of the states of the middle west; these meetings assembling at various times and at various places. But to the residents of the Big Bend this conference was an innovation. It was unique, attractive, and the interest excited was widespread.
Davenport had been selected as the place at which to hold the conference between shippers and the leading officials engaged in the business of transportation. Invitations had been extended to Presidents J. J. Hill, of the Great Northern, C. S. Mellen, at that period president of the Northern Pacific, and A. L. Mohler, of the Oregon Railway & Navigation Company. On the day named the following distinguished gentleman connected with the transportation industry arrived in Davenport.
--Great Northern President James J. Hill; John. F. Stevens, general manager; Louis Hill, assistant to J. J. Hill; F. S. Forest, superintendent Spokane Falls & Northern Railway.
--Northern Pacific President C. S. Mellen; Jules Hannaford, general traffic manager; W.
S. Gilbert, superintendent; Thomas Cooper, assistant to the president.
--O.R.&N President A. L. Mohler, R. B. Miller, general freight agent; B. Campbell, assistant traffic director of the Harriman lines; J. P. O'Brien, superintendent; W. W. Cotton, general attorney.
At the Central Washington station these gentlemen were met by a reception committee, after which followed a general introduction. The freedom of the city was tendered the guests by Mayor G. K. Birge, which President Hill affably acknowledged. The visiting officials who had arrived in their private car were driven to the Auditorium in carriages at
10:30 o'clock, a. m. J. Grier Long, N. W. Durham and R. H. Hutchinson represented the Spokane chamber of commence. Among other prominent visitors were Don Ryrie of Spokane, E. J. Lake of Elk, George W. Seal of Addy, Julius Siemens of Ritzville, Rev. W. R. Cunningham of Ritzville, Stanley Hallett of Medical Lake, D. W. Metcalf of Wilbur, Howard Spining of Wilbur, C. G. Garrettson of Harrington, H. C. Farrell, F. H. McKay and H. Morarity of Spokane and a representative of the Spokane Chronicle. A delegation from Reardan included the following: John Raymer, Peter Fram, Claus Carstens, C. Shannon, John Wickham, and W. B. Warren.
Farmers and stockmen from every part of the Big Bend were present in large numbers. Shortly after ten o'clock in the forenoon, of this gala day the crowd, constantly increasing in size, began to gather at the Auditorium wherein the conference was to be held, and where the oratorical portion of the exercises subsequently took place. Mr. James Odgers, editor of the Davenport Tribune, presided and introduced the speakers, of whom President Hill was the first. He showed conclusively that, while he was an acknowledged genius in railway building and railway management, he was more than this, a man fully conversant with the various branches of diversified farming. President Hill was followed by President Mellen. The latter sprung something in the nature of a surprise. He announced the contemplated construction of what is known as the "Adrian Cut-off," a line of road since built between Coulee City, the terminus of the Central Washington Railway, and the town of Adrian, on the Great Northern Railway, about twenty miles in length. President Mellen said that the road would cost $350,000, and that it was a gift, as the country through which it would pass was barren and unprofitable, all of which is doubtless true. But he said that this matrimonial alliance between the
Northern Pacific and Great Northern systems would place Davenport and other towns along the Central Washington Railway on a through line to the coast, thus saving the haul to Spokane and doubling back on the main lines west. This announcement was greeted with cheers and other exhibitions of marked enthusiasm. President Mohler made a few remarks mainly in a humorous vein.
Following the speaking at the Auditorium the entire assemblage repaired to the Armory Hall. Here a banquet had been prepared to which, in the language of the average conventional newspaper, "all did ample justice." President Hill mingled with the crowd and touched elbows with everybody in a most friendly spirit. In the afternoon the different delegations met with the railroad presidents in the lodge room over the Auditorium. Here all the grievances were presented, discussed, and measures of relief promised. Mr. T. M. Cooper presided at this meeting. Charles Bethel, John F. Green, J. W. Fry, T. C. Lakin, W. P. Nichols, W. H. Childs and Mr. French presented the side of the farmers and business men in as favorable and forcible a style as possible. They placed the cost of raising a bushel of wheat at from 35 to 42 cents. Mr. Hill occupied the floor about half the time replying to questions and explaining why certain rates were maintained. The discussion was con-ducted along the most amicable lines. There was an absence of any bitter criticism of the railroads, some of the farmers going so far as to say that they had no particular criticism, to make. President Hill, however, made no definite promises, further than to say that after conferring with the farmers in other sections, the presidents would consider the question as to how great a reduction in freight rates they could make. At 4 o’clock p.m. the Conference adjourned, and the presidents and other visitors immediately went to the depot and returned to Spokane the same evening.
Shortly after this visit a reduction of ten per cent was made on grain rates from eastern Washington to Puget Sound, and also to eastern markets.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Mansfield Branch Wreck

comes this filing from June 16, 1952 about a wreck on the Great Northern branchline to Mansfield, WA:

File Number 3463
Date 05/16/1952
Location SUPPLEE, WA.
Accident Type H.E.


Date: May 16, 1952
Railroad: Great Northern
Location: Supplee, Wash.
Kind of accident Head-end collision
Equipment involved: Track motor- car 4396- M:

Train number: Extra 134 North

Engine number: Diesel-electric unit 134

Consist: Caboose

Estimated speeds: Motor car: Undetermined. Extra 134: 20 m.p.h.

Operation: Train orders

Track: Single; 3 degrees curve; 0.55 percent ascending grade northward

Weather: Clear
Time: 9:35 a.m.
Casualties: 1 killed
Cause: Failure to provide adequate protection for movement of track motor-car

Recommendation: That the Great Northern Railway Company provided adequate protection for movement of track motor-cars on its line


June 17, 1952

Accident near Supplee, Wash., on May 16, 1962, caused by failure to provide adequate protection for the movement of a track motor-car.


PATTERSON, Commissioner:
On May 16, 1952, there was a head-end collision between a track motor-car and a freight train on the Great Northern Railway near Supplee, Wash., which resulted in the death of one maintenance-of-way employee.

Location of Accident and Method of Operation
This accident occurred on that part of the Spokane Division extending between Mansfield and Columbia River Wash., 60.39 miles, a single-track line, over which trains are operated by train orders. There is no block system in use. The accident occurred on the main track at t point 15.20 miles south of Mansfield and l.74 miles north of Supplee. From the north there are, in succession, a tangent 1,978 feet in length and a 3 degrees curve to the right 1,703 feet to the point of accident and 808 feet southward. From the south there are, in succession, a tangent 2,641 feet in length and the curve on which the accident occurred. Between points 380 feet north and 835 feet south of the point of accident the track is laid in a cut. The west wall of the cut rises to a maximum height of 13 feet above the level of the tops of the rails. At the point of accident the grade is 0.55 percent ascending northward.

This carriers operating rules read in part as, follows:

The signals prescribed are illustrated by "o" for short sounds; "-----" for longer sounds.

- - o - Approaching obscured curves; also as frequently as necessary when moving in obscured places to warn trackmen and others.

Rules and instructions for maintenance-of-way employees read in part as follows:

101. Line-up issued by the train dispatcher regarding train locations must, when practicable, be obtained from operators at train order offices before occupying the main track at the start of each days work. Additional line-ups may be obtained in the same manner during the day as is required.

At point where telegraphers are not employed, track car operator may use train dispatchers telephone to obtain verbal information of train locations as is necessary at the time of their movement

102. Line up or other information regarding train location will not relieve foremen or others operating track cars from responsibility of protecting their cars against collisions with trains, engines, or other track cars, as prescribed by the rules.

110. In operating track cars where view is obstructed or impaired such as by curves the employee in charge of car must take the necessary precautions to prevent accident.

Bulletin instructions read in part as follows;
foreman other employee in charge of any track car must show each line-up he gets to all members of his crew riding on motor car with him or he must read it to them.

When practicable motor car operators must have a fresh train lineup issued on the prescribed form at the beginning of the days work. This report will give them information on the location of trains on the district covered by the line up together with the intentions of the dispatcher at the time lineup was issued.

The information may be considered dependable for not over an hour after the time of issuance of the lineup. Suitable precautions should be taken for making movements with motor cars in territory where the length of vision is not sufficient to permit them to see an approaching train far enough in advance to stop their car and remove it from the track before the train reaches them.

Crews that have been working on line longer than an hour since receipt of a train location report and desire to move by motor car in territory where their length of vision is restricted because of curves or other conditions, should first communicate with the dispatcher and ascertain if it is safe to do so. In case it is not possible to communicate with the dispatcher, they must protect their movement by sending a flagman ahead in keeping with the rules.

The maximum authorized speed for trains was 20 miles per hour. The maximum authorized speed for track motor-cars was 20 miles per hour on tangent track and 8 miles per hour on curves.

Description of Accident

Track motor-car 3496-M, occupied by a section foreman, two section laborers, and a track motor-car repairman, departed south-bound from Mansfield about 9:10 a.m. About 9:35 a.m. while moving at an undetermined rate of speed, it collided with Extra 134 North at a point 15.20 miles south of Mansfield and 1.74 miles north of Supplee.

Extra 134 North, a north-bound freight train, consisted of Diesel-electric unit 134 and a caboose. The Diesel-electric unit was of the road-switcher type. This train departed from Columbia River at 7:35 a.m., departed from Douglas, 8.73 miles south of the point of accident and the last open office, at 9:20 a.m., and while moving at an estimated speed of 20 miles per hour it collided with track motor-car 3496-M.

The track motor-car, which was not derailed, was moved northward approximately 282 feet. It was badly damaged, Extra 134 North stopped with the front of the locomotive 232 feet north of the point of accident. The front of the locomotive was slightly damaged.

The section foreman was killed.

The weather was clear-at the time of the accident, which occurred about 9:35 a.m.

Track motor-car 3496-M was of the four-wheel type. It was powered by an 8-13 horsepower gasoline motor and was equipped with four-wheel brakes. It weighed l,046 pounds and had seating capacity for eight persons. It was equipped with a windshield.

During the 30-day period preceding the day of the accident, the average daily movement in the vicinity of the point of accident was 0.87 train.


The rules of this carrier provide that the operators of track motor-cars must, when practicable, obtain a line-up of train movements before their motor-cars occupy the main track at the beginning of each days work. On the line on which this accident occurred there is no direct telephone connection between the train dispatchers office and the stations north of Columbia River. The train dispatcher customarily transmits a line-up to the operator at Columbia River about 7:30 a.m. each day. The operator at Columbia River relays this line-up to the agent at Douglas for the use of the section foremen at Douglas and Mansfield. Because the section foreman at Mansfield experienced difficulty in using the telephone, it was the custom for the custodian at Mansfield to obtain the line-up from the agent at Douglas. Ordinarily the only train movement on this line is a local freight which makes a round trip three days each week.

On the day of the accident the members of the section force at Mansfield reported for duty at 8 a.m. Before they departed from Mansfield a track motor-car repairman made a routine inspection of their track motor-car. When the inspection was completed it was arranged that the section force would take the repairman south to the point at which the section force from Douglas was working. During the conversation the section foreman remarked, that the local freight train was assigned to operate on that day but they need not watch for the train until after 10 a.m. Soon after 9 a.m. the foreman entered the station and obtained a line-up which the custodian had received from the agent at Douglas about 8 a.m. This line-up contained the information that Extra 134 North, consisting of a locomotive and caboose only, had departed from Columbia River at 7:35 a.m. After the foreman received the line-up, the custodian, at the request of the foreman, called the agent at Douglas and asked him what time he expected the train to reach Douglas. The agent replied that he thought the train should arrive about 9:30 a.m. When the section foreman received this information he left the station, and he and the other employees departed south-bound on the track motor-car. The foreman did not mention the line-up or the train to the other employees on the track motor-car. As the track motor-car was approaching the point where the accident occurred all the occupants were maintaining a lookout ahead. Two of the surviving occupants said they thought the speed was between 15 and 18 miles per hour. The third sad he thought it was between 30 and 40 miles per hour. After the track motor-car entered the cut in which the accident occurred, the wall of the cut restricted the occupants view of a train approaching from the south to a distance of about 535 feet. The surviving occupants said that the foreman applied the brake immediately after the train became visible to them. The collision occurred before the track motor-car could be stopped.

As Extra 134 North was approaching the point where the accident occurred the enginemen were maintaining a lookout ahead from their positions in the control compartment of the locomotive. The members of the train crew were in the caboose. The brakes of the train had been tested and had functioned properly when used en route. The crew had received no information that the track ahead was occupied by a track motor-car. The engineer sounded the prescribed engine-whistle signal on the pneumatic horn as the train was closely approaching the curve on which the accident occurred. The fireman said that the when the track motor-car became visible to him he called a warning to the engineer. The engineer immediately made an emergency application of the brakes, but the collision occurred before the train could be stopped. Because of curvature of the track, the engineer could not see the track motor-car before the collision occurred. Members of the crew estimated that the speed was about 20 miles per hour at the time the brakes were applied.

According to the rules of this carrier, the operator of a track motor-car must, if practicable, obtain line-up before his motor-car occupies the main track, but a line-up does not relieve the operator of responsibility for collision with a train or another track motor-car. Trains are not restricted by the issuance of a line-up, and train crews and the operators of other track motor-cars are not informed when a track motor-car is occupying the main track. This investigation disclosed that in the instant case both the train and the track motor-car were moving in excess of the maximum authorized speed before the accident occurred. The train maintained an average speed of 22.6 miles per hour between Columbia River and the point of accident. The exact time that the track motor-car departed from Mansfield was not determined. The agent at Douglas thought that the custodian at Mansfield called to inquire about Extra 134 North between 9:05 a.m. and 9:10 a.m. The custodian thought this conversation took place at 9:15 a.m. If the track motor-car departed from Mansfield at 9:10 a.m., it maintained an average speed of 36.5 miles per hour between Mansfield and the point of accident. The fact that the train arrived at the point of accident earlier than it would have if the speed restrictions had been observed may have contributed to the cause of the accident, for the reason that the section foreman apparently determined from the information received at Mansfield that the motor-car could proceed some distance beyond the point where the accident occurred. However, a method of operation which places the responsibility on the operators of track motor-cars for computing the running times of trains and judging the approximate arriving times at stations and at other points does not provide adequate protection for the movement of track motor-cars.

Since January 1, 1944, the Commission has investigated 38 collisions, including the present case, which were caused by failure to provide adequate protection for the movement of track motor-cars. These accidents resulted in the death of 71 persons and the injury of 121 persons. In the reports of these accidents the Commission repeatedly has recommended that the carrier involved should provide adequate protection for the movement, of track motor-cars on its line. One of these accidents, which resulted in the death of 4 persons and the injury of 30 persons, occurred on the Great Northern Railway near Sieben, Mont., on September 8, 1948, and this recommendation was included in the Commissions report covering the investigation of that accident.


It is found that this accident was caused by failure to provide adequate protection for the movement of a track motor car.


It is recommended that the Great Northern Railway Company provide adequate protection for the movement of track motor-cars on its line.

Dated at Washington, D. C., this seventeenth day of June, 1952.
By the Commission, Commissioner Patterson

Notes from the Coulee City, WA newspaper

Was looking through archives of the News-Standard the other day and came across these tidbits:

3, Feb, 1944
The Northern Pacific Railroad Bridge crew is tearing down an old landmark at Hartline, the Hartline Depot, which is about 50 years old.

3, Jan, 1947
A roof fire at the Northern Pacific depot Monday night caused little damage, except to the nerves of the H.L. Hutchinson family. Hutchinson, Northern Pacific agent here, said one bundle of shingles would be sufficient to repair the damage. Apparently, the fire was started by the chimney catching fire and soot falling on the roof. Quick work by the Coulee City volunteer fire department kept the damage low. Hutchinson complimented the fireman on the fact that the fire was extinguished without damage to the furniture in the Hutchinson apartment on the second floor of the depot. The fire was discovered about 11:15 Monday night.

22, July, 1949
With the completion date scheduled for late in 1950, all but nine miles of the new relocation highway between Coulee City and Grand Coulee was under construction. The work was one of the biggest highway construction jobs ever undertaken in this part of the state and would cost about 4 and one half million dollars. The Bureau of Reclamation was to pay 31/34th of the cost and the state highway department the rest. There were five separate contracts for grading. Contracts to be let in 1950 would call for surfacing, oiling and building seven bridges. Grading contracts for a stretch of six miles north of Coulee City and one for three miles near Electric City were soon to let soon. The finished road would be 34 feet wide, 10 feet wider than the old road on the coulee floor. The railroad in the bottom of the coulee would be abandoned when the reservoir was filled and trucks would carry heavy machinery from the railroad terminal in Coulee City to the Dam.

9, May, 1953
Northern Pacific Railway, the largest taxpayer in the Coulee City school district, has just completed payment of its first half taxes. The total property taxes to be paid in the 30 counties in the state in which the NP operates is nearly two million dollars.

6, Mar, 1954
Northern Pacific train No. 315 made its last run into Coulee City Saturday with about 30 passengers aboard. The train had been carrying mail, passengers, and express from Spokane for 65 years. The mail service is now being handles by Northern Pacific truck and arrives in Coulee City about noon. The return trip will be about 4 pm. The same truck will pick up cream shipments at the depot and express destined to points within the state. No arrangements have as yet been made for interstate express shipments. The truck driver will carry an open pouch so there will be direct mail service between the towns on the run.

22, Jan, 1972
During the early morning hours of Tuesday, Jan 22nd the Cub Scouts and leaders of Pack 35 assembled at the train depot to follow up their monthly theme, transportation. the late arriving sunrise, caused by daylight saving time, did not darken the spirits of the boys who immediately took over the two engines. After a few minutes of switching locally, the train with its enthusiastic passengers departed for Hartline. The Cubs were divided between the two engines and had the opportunity of seeing the engineer run the train first-had. After what amounted to about 45 minutes the boys de-trained at Hartline. Travelin with the boys on the train were Den Chief Steve Razey, Den Mother Nancy Spurgeon, Pack Committee chairman Phil Buob and Patrick Buob. Meeting the travelers at Hartline and returning them to Coulee city were Cub mother Rosie Trexler and Cubmaster Dick Tigges. The leaders, parents and especially the Cub Scouts would once again like to say thanks to Burlington Northern local agent, Skip Conner, Engineer Julian and Conductor McGee who made this fine experience possible.

16, Mar, 1972
The Burlington Northern depot at Coulee City was burglarized Monday night sometime between 4:30 pm and 11:40 pm. Skip Conner, agent, reported the break-in Tuesday morning when he found the office door open when he went to work. The burglar probably gained entry through a waiting room window and then broke the window between the waiting room and office. A small amount of cash appeared to have been the only thing taken. The break-in was established as early evening as the Burlington Northern CW freight train arrived at Coulee City at 11:40 pm and found the station had been entered. The break-in was investigated by Grant County Deputy Sheriff Boyd Jenkin.

11, Oct, 1974
Equipment failure caused a car loaded with John Deere drills for Jim Jess Implement to go off the end of the track west of the Coulee City station Friday night. The car, set out by the local Burlington Northern freight train on the stock track at Coulee City, had a defective air system causing the brakes to be inoperative. The car immediately started rolling toward the depot and the crew was unable to stop it as it rolled by the Grain Growers and the McCall Fertilizer installations and went off the end of the track about 30 feet. Burlington Northern carmen from Ephrata were called and with their special truck jacked the car up and placed rails under the wheels and pulled it onto the main track. No damage resulted to track or contents of the car, according to Skip Conner, agent. Back in the 1920’s, a Great Northern passenger train being detoured from Spokane to Adrian took a wrong turn at the “Y” east of Coulee City and instead of going to Adrian headed for town and ended with the engine over the end of the track in the same spot. (Actual year for the GN train was 1909, according to a photo of the wreck).

1, June, 1977
C.W. ‘Skip’ Connor, BN agent for Coulee City, will retire June 1 after 40 years with the railroad. The railroad will not replace Skip in Coulee City and the depot will close at the end of the work day.

14, Oct, 1979
Depot was built in 1890 and was used as a depot and freight station until 1976. The Coulee City Women’s Club became aware of plans to dismantle the building and asked the BN for permission to use it as a Senior or Community center. It was given to the Women’s Club, who in turn gave it to the Coulee City Senior citizens, provided it be moved to another site. Former resident Tom Price donated land so the depot would be permanently positioned. A total of $2500 was donated by the Coulee City Women’s Club for the move and renovation.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Well, here we go...

This is my way of occasionally posting my findings of ferroequinarcheology.