Monday, May 31, 2010

Difference of Decades Wilson Creek

Depot photo courtesy the GN-NP Archives website.

The Wilson Creek depot, back in the early Burlington Northern day, is seen much like it was when it was still a Great Northern depot. The depot was torn down in 1975.

Photo today taken in May 2010 shows where the depot was, plus a very old grain warehouse behind it, partially seen in the older photograph.

The derailment the BNSF had at Wilson Creek in March of 2010 had cars piled up against the wooden pole easily seen in the today picture, which snapped the top of the pole off. If the depot had been standing, it would have been destroyed in the wreck.

The pile of railroad ties seen in the today photo are from a recent tie replacement program, and is not directly related to the derailment.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

NP Doodlebug on the CW

From the "Spokane Chronicle."
January 29, 1954

Spokane city drivers who think January snows are giving them a hard time are sissies compared with the Northern Pacific railroad's "bug" which runs between Spokane and Coulee City. The little train is shown as it arrived in Spokane after Wednesday's run through snow deeper than fence tops. Conductor Sam Miller, with 44 years' service, is breathing a sigh of relief as he picks up his bags and starts for home. Engineer Harry Perkins is in the cab making  a last-minute check before he too relaxes for the night.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Pioneer of West Called By Death

From the "Spokane Chronicle."

December 24, 1936

Daniel Devine, age 94, resident of the Down River section more than 40 years, and sometimes known as the "hermit," died Wednesday at a local hospital of the infirmities of old age.

Born January 10, 1842, in Kansas City, he started roving the west at an early age, but not before he had been captured and pressed into the Condeferate army for six months in Arkansas. Following the war he drove wagon trains on the plains and was working with the Union Pacific tracklaying crew when the golden spoke was driven at Promontory Point, Utah, and later was foreman of a hard rock crew when the Canadian Pacific drove tunnels through the Rockies and the Selkirks.

He came to Spokane in the late '80s and foreman on a construction crew when the Seattle and Lake Shore railroad was pushed from Spokane to a point near Coulee City before being abandoned.

During the war he was watchman for several Great Northern bridges near the city and has made his livelihood up to several years ago by salvaging junk from the gravel bars along the Spokane river.

Always a student of current events, he had a keen insight to pioneer history of the northwest and was personally acquainted with the late William F. (Buffalo Bill) Cody when that plainsman was furnishing buffalo beef to the construction crews on the Central Pacific railroad. He had but few close friends.

The body is at Hazen & Jaeger's awaiting funeral arrangements.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Railroad in Race to Coulee Project

From the "Spokane Chronicle."

August 3, 1933

Construction of a branch line into the site of the Grand Coulee dam is taking on the aspects of a "hoss race," with the Great Northern appearing as the dark steed to trouble the Northern Pacific, current favorite.

The Great Northern has surveyed a line from Mansfield to the dam site at Seaton's ferry, and could start construction almost overnight. From authoritative but confidential sources comes word that very thing may happen soon.

The Northern Pacific, however, has been asked to build into the dam site by Senator Dill, and is now making studies of a line from either Coulee City or Almira. The Northern Pacific is seeking a commitment of minimum truck competition as a condition to building the line, which would cost about $600,000.

Senator Dill is not putting all his bets on Northern Pacific, however, and in his address to the huge crowd that greeted his return here last night confirmed the report that the Great Northern was ready to consider building into Seaton's ferry from Mansfield.

W.P. Kenney, president of the Great Northern, declined to commit himself here this morning just before his departure for the coast, but did say the survey from Mansfield had been made some time ago.

The Great Northern naturally will want to know about the prospective tonnage and about the danger of heavy truck competition, but with equally natural motives will not want to pass up the chance at the tonnage to come from construction of the dam.

The line from Mansfield would cost more than an NP route from either Almira or Coulee City and would be a little longer. Furthermore, the NP has the better grade into the dam site.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Big Bend Railroad History--The Live Show

Join me June 10, 2010 at the Moses Lake Museum and Art Center for a live presentation of railroading in the Big Bend area of Washington State. Starts at 7 pm. Here is your chance to see pictures and ask questions about our fine area and see picture.

This presentation is part of the Journey Stories exhibition in conjunction with the Smithsonian Institution and Humanities Washington, with this Moses Lake showing the first in Washington State.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Repair Washout On Coulee Line

From the "Spokane Chronicle."

March 12, 1936

A section of the government railroad between Odair and Coulee dam was washed out Wednesday by flood waters pouring over the coulee walls. Railroad and highway crews have been at work day and night repairing damage.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Ryan Challenges Tax Commission

From the "Spokane Chronicle."

October 21, 1935

Suit to enjoin the state tax commission from collecting the business and occupation tax on his contract to build a railroad from Odair, on the Northern Pacific near Coulee City to the Grand Coulee dam, was filed in superior court in Olympia today by David H. Ryan.

He charges the state has no right to collect a tax on a contract let by the federal government. No hearing date was set.

The suit is the second of its kind to have been brought in superior court here, the other being an action filed by the Mason-Walsh-Atkinson-Kerr company to prevent the state from collecting the tax on the company's $29,000,000 contract to build the Coulee Dam.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

High Waters Are Fought by Area Railroad Crews

From the "Spokane Chronicle."

February 28, 1957

Great Northern bridge crews were reported winning their battle with rampaging Crab creek in the Wilson Creek area today, and westbound mainline freight moved out of Hillyard this morning for the first time in two days.

About 25 feet of the Crab creek railroad bridge approaches were washed out before rock revetments could be built up to protect the tracks. Cascade division officials said the mainline would be restored to use today.

Passengers, baggage and express were being transported from Wilson Creek to Spokane and Odessa by bus and trucks yesterday.

Other railroad also are having high water problems in the area, dispatchers and division superintendents reported.

The Northern Pacific is plagued with a number of washouts on its Washington Central branch between Cheney and Coulee city.

Crews today were patching the right of way with gravel and also have been replacing piling on some small bridges. George L. Slorah, division superintendent, was making an inspection tour today. He said the main line was not threatened.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Big Bend Towns Seek Mail Route

From the "Spokane Chronicle."

April 23, 1940

Delegations from Almira, Creston, Coulee City, Davenport, Hartline, and Govan met with the Wilbur Commercial club Monday evening to discuss possible mail service, should the Northern Pacific discontinue service on the Central Washington branch from Spokane to Coulee City.

Railroad officials have intimated an intention to discontinue passenger and mail service and operate freight trains only on the line.

A committee consisting of one representative from each town on the line will be appointed to further investigate the problem. Deputy Sheriff Frank C. Rambo and Jim Downie attended the meeting from Davenport.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Railway Mail Service To Coulee City To End?

From the "Spokane Chronicle."

May 14, 1940

Mail service from Spokane to Coulee City will continue via Northern Pacific passenger train "indefinitely," Walter C. Hays, chief clerk on the railway mail service, reported today.

The railroad previously made plans to discontinue its passenger service to Coulee City on May 20.

Bids were received for temporary star-route contracts to supplant the rail service and the bids already had been submitted to Washington, D.C., when the Postoffice Department order for "no change pending further investigation" came through today, Hays said.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Northern Pacific Big Bend Predecessors -Spokane and Seattle Railway Company

Courtesy of Aaron Schwarz

NP Valuation, Appendix 2


The Spokane and Seattle Railway company was incorporated June 30, 1895, under the general laws of the State of Washington.

This company was controlled on October 3, 1900, by the Northern Pacific, through ownership of its outstanding capital stock. On the other hand, the records reviewed to not indicate that this company then controlled any common-carrier corporations.

The records reviewed do not indicate that the Spokane and Seattle Railway Company ever operated its railroad property. On date of sale 2.60 miles in the city of Spokane was leased to a union depot company. About 1.5 miles in that city was used by another carrier under trackage rights.

The Spokane and Seattle Railway Company owned 50.05 miles of single track, standard gauge railroad in the State of Washington, of which the section from Medical lake to Davenport, 29 miles, was conveyed to the Northern Pacific on March 17, 1899, and the remainder, from Spokane to Medical Lake, 21.05 miles, was conveyed to that company on October 3, 1900.

Development of Fixed Physical Property

The 50.05 miles of road owned by the Spokane and Seattle Railway Company had been acquired from the Seattle, Lake Shore and Eastern Railway Company through a bondholders committee.

The records reviewed indicate that a part of the road was abandoned and the track removed prior to the sale to the Northern Pacific but the details in connection with such abandonment were not ascertained.

History of Corporate Financing

Syndicating, banking and other financial arrangements. The plan of reorganization of the Seattle, Lake Shore and Eastern Railway Company provided for the formation of two new companies, to one of which (Seattle and International Railway Company) should be conveyed all of the property on the west side of the Cascade mountains, and to the other (Spokane and Seattle Railway Company) all of the property on the east side of those mountains. Depositing bondholders of the Seattle, Lake Shore and Eastern Railway Company were entitled under the plan to receive securities as indicated hereunder:

Of the corporation organized to acquire the west side property, new bonds equal to four-fifths, and now stock equal to four-tenths, of such holdings;

Of the corporation organized to acquire the east side property, new bonds equal to one-fifth, and new stock equal to one-tenth, of such holdings.

Capital stock and long-term debt. From the date of its incorporation to date of sale, the Spokane and Seattle Railway Company issued capital stock and long-term debt as indicated by its records, aggregating $1,712,000 par value, all of which was actually outstanding. The details are summarized below:

Stock: Capital Stock, par value: Issued $600,000
Long-term debt: Funded dept, par value: Issued $1,112,000

Total $1,712,000

Capital Stock. The authorized capital stock of the Spokane and Seattle Railway Company was $600,000 par value, divided into shares of $100 par value each not definitely designated as to the class, all of which was issued to the bondholders' committee of the Seattle, Lake Shore and Eastern Railway Company in part consideration for the property acquired from that company. The Spokane and Seattle Railway Company charged the par value of the stock to its investment in road and equipment account. The stock was not retired upon sale of the property. It was pledged under the prior lien mortgage of the Northern Pacific.

Funded debt. The Spokane and Seattle Railway Company issued $1,112,000 par value, first mortgage 4 per cent gold bonds, dated November 1, 1895, due November 1, 1926, to the bondholders committee of the Seattle, Lake Shore and Eastern Railway Company in part consideration for the property acquired from that company. The par value of the bonds was charged by the Spokane and Seattle Railway Company to its investment in road and equipment account. The bonds were not retired upon the sale of the property, but were acquired by the Northern Pacific and pledged under its prior lien mortgage.

Results of Corporate Operations

The results of corporate operations as shown in the income and profit and loss accounts of the Spokane and Seattle Railway Company, are given below.

Income Statement. A condensed summary of the income and accounts for the period from July 1, 1896 to October 3, 1900; follows.

Nonoperating income $59,492.17

Gross income $59,492.17

Deductions from gross income $60,601.77

Net deficit $1,109.60

Disposition of net income:
Income debit balance transferred to profit and loss $1,109.60

Profit and loss statement. A condensed summary of the profit and loss accounts for the period from July, 1 1896 to October 3, 1900, follows.

Delayed income credits $1,159.60
Railway tax credits $1,159.60
Total $1,159.60

Net debit balance transferred from income $1,109.60
Miscellaneous debits:
Adjustments or cancellations of balance sheet accounts $50.00
Total $1,159.60

Balance on date of sale None

Dividends. The Spokane and Seattle Railway Company had not declared any dividends on its capital stock to date of sale.

Investment in Road and Equipment

The investment of the Spokane and Seattle Railway Company in road and equipment, including land, on date of sale was stated in its books as $1,650,288.12, of which the following is a general analysis:
For property of the Seattle, Lake Shore and Eastern Railway Company east of the Cascade mountains, acquired through foreclosure proceedings $1,712,000.00
Capital stock issued, par value $600,000
Funded debt issued, par value $1,112,000

Less salvage from road abandoned, credited at $61,711.38

Total recorded on date of sale $,650,288.12

It is pointed out that while the Spokane and Seattle Railway Company abandoned a part of its road, it did not adjust, its investment in road and equipment account in connection with such abandonment. As indicated in the above general analysis, it recorded only the salvage value of the materials removed.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

NP Branchline Construction Companies

Courtesy of Aaron Schwarz

NP Valuation, Appendix 2

The following chart (excerpt) shows the name of the corporations, the respective dates of incorporation and for each predecessor the date of succession, the immediately succeeding corporation and the manner of succession. Reference to each of these corporations is made in the last line by its respective number shown before the name.

57. Spokane and Seattle Railway Company
Incorporated under general laws of Washington June 30, 1895.
Sold separately in two portions to 1 (Northern Pacific Railway), Medical Lake to Davenport, Wash., March 17, 1899, and Spokane to Medical Lake, Wash., October 3, 1900.

58. Seattle, Lake Shore and Eastern Railway Company
Incorporated under general laws of Washington Territory April 28, 1885.
Sold at foreclosure May 16, 1896, after receivership begun June 26, 1893, to committee of bondholders who by deed dated July 28, 1895, conveyed the eastern portion to 57 and the western portion to 61 (Seattle and International Railway Company).

91. Connell Northern Railway Company
Incorporated under general laws of Washington June 1, 1909.
Sold to 1, June 25, 1915.

92. The Washington Central Railway Company
Incorporated under general laws of Washington May 31, 1898.
Sold to 1, June 29, 1914.

93. The Central Washington Railroad Company
Incorporated under general laws of Territory of Washington March 2, 1888.
Sold at foreclosure January 18, 1898, after receivership begun Oct. 6, 1893, to Charles T. Barney, et al, who by deed dated June 1, 1898 conveyed the property to 92.

Two corporations acquired property from predecessors, but the records reviewed do not show that these corporations improved such property while they owned it. These corporations were:

Spokane and Seattle Railway Company
Duluth Transfer Railroad Company

The data with respect to the miles of road constructed by the 75 remaining corporations and by the Northern Pacific, itself, the years in which the various portions of the line were constructed and the manner in which the Northern Pacific acquired the property are indicated in the following list, wherein, to facilitate comparison with the list showing corporate succession, listed above, the same order of corporations is maintained.

From the Spokane and Seattle Railway Company,
March 17, 1899 and October 3, 1900
Constructed by the Seattle, Lake Shore and Eastern Railway Company, Spokane to Davenport, Wash., 1888-1889 50.05 miles

From the Connell Northern Railway Company,
June 25, 1915: 73.49 miles
Constructed by that company:
Connell to Adco, Wash., 1909-1910 60.95 miles
Bassett Jct to Schrag, Wash., 1909-1910 12.54 miles

From the Washington Central Railway Company,
June 29, 1914: 129.76 miles
Constructed by that company:
Coulee Jct to Adrian, Wash., 1902-1903 21.10 miles
Constructed by the Central Washington Railway Company:
Cheney to Davenport, Wash., 1888-1889 41.40 miles
Davenport to Almira, Wash., 1889 46.10 miles
Almira to Coulee City, Wash., 1889-1890 21.16 miles

Less mileage abandoned by the Northern Pacific:

Previously acquired from the Spokane and Seattle Railway Company, abandoned during 1900, Spokane to Ditmar, Wash., 29.20 miles

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Extracts From the NP Field Engineer's Notes-Bassett Jct to Schrag

Courtesy of Aaron Schwarz

Washington 14

This section extends from Bassett Jct. to Schrag, a length of 12.2 miles. A large part of the land is uncultivated sagebrush desert, the only farming being wheat-raising. Maximum grade .55%; maximum curvature 5 degrees. Generally speaking the country is flat; the soil light, of a volcanic nature. No classified material except hardpan. Wind erosion necessitated gravel blanket protection. Grading has been completed eastward from Schrag to a connection with the main line at Ritzville. The line was built in 1909 and 1910 at the following prices;

Earth, 300 foot haul $.165 per cubic yard
Earth, 300 to 1000 foot haul $.205 per cubic yard
Loose Rock $.32 per cubic yard
Shell Rock $.25 per cubic yard
Solid Rock Excavation $.85 per cubic yard
Solid Rock Borrow $.50 per cubic yard
Loose Riprap $1.25 per cubic yard
Hand Place Riprap $1.50 per cubic yard
Overhaul, after 1000 feet $.01 per cubic yard
Clearing $15 per acre
Grubbing $1.50 per square rod
Tracklaying $275 per mile
Surfacing $200 per mile

The climate in this territory is very windy; the soil light. There have been instances through this part of Central Washington where the light grades have been entirely obliterated during construction by heavy winds. Eight months would be a reasonable reproduction period.

Account 3--Grading

Material available for bank protection from the wind would have to be train hauled from M.P. 46 on Valuation Section 12, or from Mesa Pit. ICC quantities for fills fun under carrier's quantities on account of material having been blown away. Clearing amounts to light sagebrush.

Account 6--Culverts

End of pipe culverts throughout this section of the country are not protected with end walls of any description. Occasionally a small amount of riprap is place about them.

Account 8--Ties

All treated ties are creosoted. Bridge ties are untreated fir.


The C.M.& St. P. Ry. crosses overhead on Mile 2. The entire cost of the crossing and maintenance is borne by the C.M.& St. P. Carrier's inventory folio includes that part of the grading beyond the end of tracklaying which was not included in the ICC field inventory.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Extracts From the NP Field Engineer's Notes-Davenport to Spokane

Courtesy of Aaron Shwarz

Washington 13

This valuation section extends eastward from Davenport towards Spokane. Only 16.2 miles of track have been laid, the balance being considered as abandoned property. The country is easy rolling and flat. Maximum grade 1%; maximum curvature 8 degrees. Grading was completed from Spokane to Davenport in 1888 and 1889; from Ditmar east the track has been removed. A portion of the track near the City of Spokane is also still in place. A fair highway is adjacent to the section its entire length. The construction period would be eight or nine months. A portion of the line in the City of Spokane has been leased to the O.W.R.& N.

Account 3--Grading

Classified material consists of hard basalt rock and a stiff sandy clay hardpan. The general classification is light; very little riprap required and embankment not affected by wind. Clearing consists of light growths of willows and brush.

Account 8--Ties

All treated ties are creosoted. Bridge ties are untreated.

Non-Carrier Property

In Spokane there are 1113 feet of track and grading on Mile 3 near the lower crossing of the Spokane River. This does not make any physical connection with any operated road and has not been operated for 10 years. Probable that carrier does not remove the material because they desire to hold their rights along the bank of the river.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Extracts From the NP Field Engineer's Notes-Connell to Cheney

Courtesy of Aaron Schwarz

Washington 12

This valuation section extends form Connell to Cheney, a distance of 189 miles. It runs up the valley of Wilson Creek about 60 miles, then turns and curves eastward along the basin known as Moses Coulee; leaves this coulee near Hartline, going through Davenport to Cheney. Maximum curvature 10 degrees; maximum grade 1.2%. The greater part of the line is over rolling country, with occasional large coulees to be crossed. The greater part of the country adjacent to the line is filled raw land covered with sagebrush and loose rock, although considerable acreage close to certai portions of the line is devoted to wheat-raising. The line was constructed in three separate sections and at three different periods; that from Cheney to Coulee Jct. was built in 1888 and 1889; from Coulee Jct. to Adrian was built in 1902 and 1903; balance of line built in 1909 and 1910. Construction period would be two years. Wagon roads cover the entire section and equipment of all classes can be hauled wherever requires.

Account 3--Grading
A portion of the line is very heavy rock work, the rock being a basaltic or porous lava. The top soil is a thin light volcanic ash and the subsoil a hardpan or cemented material. Heavy wind storms caused the light soil in the embankments to blow away during construction. The was remedied as far as possible with a gravel blanket protection. The little riprap required was obtained from Miles 3, 4 and 5. Clearing and grubbing accounts to scattered sagebrush. The line was constructed under the following prices:

Cheney to Coulee City

Clearing, heavy $80 per acre
Clearing, sagebrush $12 per acre
Grubbing $30 per station
Earth $.18 per cubic yard
Cemented Gravel and Loose Rock $.50 per cubic yard
Solid Rock $1.25 per cubic yard

Coulee Jct. to Adrian

Clearing $10 per acre
Grubbing $5 per station
Earth $.17 per cubic yard
Loose Rock, Cemented Gravel and Hardpan $.35 per cubic yard
Solid Rock $.80 per cubic yard

Adrian to Connell

Excavation and embankment, earth, 300 foot haul $.165 per cubic yard
Excavation and embankment, earth, 300 to 1000 foot haul $.205 per cubic yard
Hardpan $.28 per cubic yard
Loose rock $.32 per cubic yard
Solid rock excavation $.75 per cubic yard
Solid rock borrow $.50 per cubic yard
Loose riprap $1.25 per cubic yard
Hand Placed Riprap $1.50 per cubic yard
Overhaul on above (free haul 1000 feet) $.01 per cubic yard
Clearing $15 per acre
Grubbing $1.50 per square rod

Account 8--Ties

All treated ties are creosoted. Bridge ties and switch ties are all sawed fir and untreated.

Account 10--Other track Material

Guard rails made from relay rails are provided with braces and not with bolts and clamps as shown on carrier's standard. Guard rails made from new rail, however, are the carrier's present standard.

Account 11--Ballast

Gravel pit at Mile 45 has had removed about 33,000 cubic yards, with 17,000 cubic yards remaining. Material is coarse gravel, about 20% dirt and 10% large boulders. No clearing required. Stripping amounted to 1921 yards of earth. most of the material was used for replacing sand embankments on Washington 14 (Bassett Jct. to Schrag) and for washout filling. Pit in Mile 47 about 31,000 cubic yards removed, 10,000 cubic yards remaining. Coarse gravel; 20% dirt; 30% boulders; partly cemented and hard to remove; poor material for ballast. Largely used for band protection and widening. Pit at Mile 18: About 8000 cubic yards still available. Coarse gravel; 10% dirt; 10% boulders; no stripping. Pit in Mile 17: About 10,000 cubic yards still available. Material coarse gravel, partly cemented; 50% large boulders; used for ballasting and bank widening. Pit in Mile 82 at Kirkwood: 90,000 cubic yards removed; 40,000 cubic yards remaining; stripping amounted to one foot deep on 2.55 acres. Fine gravel 30%; coarse sand 60%; dirt 10%. Mile 16 - Sand pit; About 20,000 cubic yards still available. Coarse sand; 10% fine gravel; 10% dirt; stripping 3470 cubic yards.