From the "Spokane Chronicle."
May 14, 1936
One yardstick to apply to the progress being made on the Grand Coulee dam is the tonnage handled by the little railroad, built for the purpose, to move materials and equipment from Odair, near Coulee City, up the Grand coulee and down the hill to the damsite. The story is told with facts and figures in a recent issue of the MWAK Columbian, house organ of the general contractors. It is as follows:
An oil-burning shay that backs down a 5 per cent grade has a great part in moving and re-moving the 162,000,000 net pounds that had come in by rail by April 1. This means a gross tonnage of 290,000,000 pounds for 2087 cars used.
A locomotive makes daily trips from the main line at Odair, 31 miles away, to Electric City. the low-geared shay continues the additional five mile to the government warehouse by swinging wide about curves and long the cutbacks of high abutments.
From the cement silos to the warehouse yards is two-miles-about 4000 feet as the crow might fly. Up and down this grade, the shay creeps along at the rate of from eight to 10 miles per hour. This gear-driven engine is used in place of a road locomotive because the steep grade requires it.
Since first use of the shay, July 23, 1935, the month of March has taken over a lion’s share in monthly railroad work as 23,641 net tons, or 48,316 gross tons, came into Electric City on 530 cars and 561 empties were returned. The tonnage for March is four times the 550-ton average for each month of railroad operations in 1935. January and February are next high in order with 16,077 and 14,380 tons. More than tow-thirds of the weight by rail has been brought in during the three months of 1936.
The explanation lies in the present increased cement shipments of 25 cars daily, with 72,000 pounds per car net; the 3,000,000 feet of timbering arriving during the last two months and the 187 carloads of steel for the concrete-carrying trestles.
The 2087 carloads brought in meant 962 cars of bulk cement for the cement silos, and 1125 of miscellaneous, such as timber, steel and explosives. Cement itself, both bulk and sack has reached 70,000,000 since the beginning of work here.
The 120,000 net tons that have passed over the railroads represent 55 per cent of all tonnage checked by the company warehouse. And yet of more than 21 months of receiving material, the railroad has been in operation but eight.
The railroad system was constructed by David H. Ryan. It is operated by the MWAK company. Governor Clarence D. Martin piloted the first official train over the line last July 29.