Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Mansfield Branch to Grand Coulee? And Other Dam Facts.

From the "Annual Project History Columbia Basin Project"

Volume II--1934

Bureau of Reclamation

Page 19
List of Visitors-1934 (continued)

Great Northern Railway Company, St. Paul, Minnesota: Kenny, W.P., President; Jenks, C.O., Vice President; O'Niell, G.H., General Manager; and Burnham, P.H., Western Traffic Manager

Pages 63-65
Construction Railroad: Preliminary surveys for a railroad to the Grand Coulee site were made in 1933 by both the Northern Pacific and Great Northern Railway Companies, the first running from Odair, a siding located about two miles from Coulee City, and the latter extending a branch line from Mansfield, Washington. The Great Northern route proved impractical because of the heavy grading work required, but the Northern Pacific line was quite satisfactory; consequently, that company applied for a permit to build. The permit was granted by the Interstate Commerce Commission of February 13, 1934; however, when the company's request for exclusive franchise rights was denied by the State Department of Public Works, it abandoned the project. Thereafter the Government decided to built its own railroad, and immediately engaged the Northern Pacific Railway Company to locate a line from Odair to the head of the Grand Coulee, this being substantially the same route which that company had formerly located. The location survey was completed in May, and thereafter all engineering work was transferred to the Bureau of Reclamation. Two engineering residencies were established, No. 1 covering the first seventeen miles and No. 2 the last eleven miles. A contract for construction of the railroad was awarded to David H. Ryan, who started work on August 9, 1934, and thereafter the resident engineers with their field surveying crews were in constant service on the railroad project. Considerable surveying was involved on Residency No. 2 in mapping lands at the railroad terminus which were to be used for storage yards and a proposed steel rolling mill site.

Highway and Railroad: Adequate transportation facilities were provided by the State Highway and Government Construction Railroad, both of these terminating at the head of the Grand Coulee; however, there remained about two miles of railroad and highway to be built by the Bureau of Reclamation to complete transportation facilities to the dam site. This project was undertaken as a combination railroad and highway project in December 1933 and continued throughout 1934. The alignment traversed the west side of the Columbia River gorge, being definitely limited, as to its location, by a controlling "1310" elevation at the axis of the dam, and thereafter by a five per cent railroad and ten per cent highway grade limitation, to the Government Camp warehouse area. Because of these restricted conditions and the steep, rocky slope upon which the grade had to be constructed, considerable engineering detail was involved, including the location of two railroad switchbacks and an overhead crossing of the highway. A heavy rock cut was required near the axis of the dam, and further complications arose when an earth slide of considerable proportions, in March 1934, caused from dam excavation, necessitated relocation of a portion of the line.

The engineering work was assigned to tow resident engineers, one handling the railroad project and another the highway. Contractors Crick and Kuney received notice to proceed on grading work on June 30, 2934, and thereafter the usual routine engineering surveys in connection with construction operations were performed by two partings working under the direction of the resident engineers. Grading was substantially completed at the end of the year.

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