Thursday, September 25, 2008

Construction of the Marcellus branch of the Milwaukee Road

Presented by Michael Sol via the MILW list at Yahoogroups.

Below is the official "construction record" of the Marcellus branch of the Chicago Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway, generated in 1915. The H.C. Henry Company, a ubiquitous railroad contractor in the PNW, got the contract.


Valuation Section Washington 7 covers the branch line of the
C.M.& St.P. Ry., extending from the main line station Warden, in a
general northeasterly direction to Marcellus, a distance of about 48

During the winter of 1909-09 an engineer made a general exploration
covering an area of about 40 miles wide and 60 miles in length, lying
between the Great Northern and the C.M.& St.P. Railway, bounded by Cow
Creek on the east and Moses Lake on the west. This work was done on
horse back and required about three months' time. He made a very
complete report as to the traffic possibilities of the territory, in
addition to outlining a possible branch line. A location party was
sent to Warden in October, 1909 to develop the possibilities of the
route outlined in the reconnaissance report. This party was in the
field four months, running 93 miles of preliminary and 200 miles of
location survey for the final 47 miles adopted, or two miles of
preliminary and four miles of location for each mile of adopted line.
Construction commenced in March, 1910. Track was laid in December of
the same year.

For construction purposes a District Engineer's office was established
in Warden, under the direct supervision of the Chief Engineer in
Seattle. The line was divided into four residencies of various lengths.

Leaving Warden this branch runs northeasterly for about 25 miles,
thence nearly due east to the terminus. The gradients are undulating
with a maximum of 2%. The alignment is good, consisting of long
tangents intercepted by east curvature.

H. C. Henry was awarded the contract for the clearing, grading, bridge
and culvert work, which he sublet to several other contractors. This
work was largely done by teams with wheeled scrapers and fresnos.
Outfits were delivered by rail to points on the C.M.& St.P., Northern
Pacific and Great Northern Railways, depending on the distance to the
places of operation.

Most of the territory traversed was covered with sage brush and
greasewood which required clearing for light grading.

In general, the grading was light. Much of it was side borrow work.
Some classified material was encountered. The worst difficulty to
overcome was the wind, which blows almost incessantly in this
vicinity, and made the work very disagreeable and expensive as in many
cases newly graded embankments were blown away. Water was scarce and
of poor quality and was usually hauled for long distances. Men were
hard to hold under such conditions.

No unusual bridge work was required. Those that were built were
standard pile trestle. The material was delivered at Warden by rail
from where it was hauled by team to the points of erection.

Culverts were built of vitrified pipe, hauled by team from Warden.
The drainage requirements as anticipated during construction
were very deceiving. This territory is subject to spasmodic heavy
rainfall and cloud-bursts, which require unusual drainage facilities.

As a consequence many of the culverts installed during original
construction have been washed out and replaced by pile bridges. .
Warden was the point of supply for track laying. A Roberts Bros.
machine was used and new 65 pound rail was laid.

Track laying began July 7th, 1910 and was completed on November
16th of the same year. No work was done, however, between July
27th and September l5th. The track was side surfaced immediately
after it was laid. A temporary water tank was erected about 19 miles
north of Warden for track laying purposes. Permanent tanks with
drilled wells have since been installed at Ruff and Marce1lus.

Standard right of way fences have been built with the necessary
crossing facilities.

The buildings were constructed by Company forces soon after the line
was opened for traffic, the usual section facilities being built at
Tiflis, Ruff and Marcellus, and depots at the two last named places.

Telegraph material was distributed by work train and erected by
Company forces. Telephones were installed in booths at Blind sidings,
as well as in the depots.

The branch is operated as a part of the Idaho Division, the usual
branch line equipment being used. Traffic is not very heavy except in
the wheat hauling season.

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