By Bruce Butler.
East of Davenport there
exists a long stretch of tangent track on the CW (Central Washington)
line, running about 3.6 miles approximately from MP 35.5 to MP 39.1.
In the middle of this tangent the track swings slightly to the north
between approximately MP 36.9 and MP 37.9 in what was obviously a
siding at one time. This siding eventually replaced the mainline,
which was then removed. The fact that this piece of track is laid
with 112# rail would seem to indicate that this siding was a
relatively recent (at least in railroad terms) piece of construction.
I have never been able to
find anything about this siding in my various NP employee timetables.
At the recent NPRHA convention in Spokane I purchased three BN
Employee timetables and they provided some partial answers. In all 3
timetables, the CW branch is listed as the 8th
subdivision of the Spokane division. In addition to the listed
stations, there is a category shown variously as “Business Tracks”
or “Connections, Industrial Tracks and other Tracks (etc)”.
Spokane Division TimeTable
#1 dated 3/3/1970 was the first timetable issued by the newly merged
BN following the 3/2/1970 merger. This timetable lists “Major”,
located 2.9 miles west of Mondovi in the Business Track section, with
a capacity of 128 cars. So obviously the NP constructed this siding
before the merger. Also interesting is that Deep Creek is listed in
the timetable with a 16 car siding. No mention is made of the
station “Cement” at MP 103.6.
In BN Seattle Region
TimeTable #3 dated 10/25/1970, “Major” has been changed to
station status, listed at MP 36.6. Deep Creek has been changed to a
“Business Track”. There is still no mention of the station at
The last BN TimeTable I
acquired is #27 dated 4/25/1982. It is for the Seattle-Portland
Region and covers the Spokane, Pacific, and Portland Divisions. The
CW is still listed as subdivision #8 and “Major” is still listed
as a station, now at MP 37.4 with a siding length of 5,420 feet.
Deep Creek is gone. “Cement” is listed in the “Commercial,
Industrial (etc)” section as having a capacity of 48 cars and
located 6.8 miles west of Hartline.
None of the three
TimeTables mention “Webb” at MP 63.6. All three show the Eleanor
branch but #27 lists the entire branch as an industrial spur. Marc
Entze furnished me with a table from his PHD dissertation listing
abandonment dates for rail segments in our area. It shows that the
Eleanor line was abandoned 4/29/1983. It doesn’t list
Odair-Adrian, but does show Adrian-Wheeler as abandoned on 5/24/1983.
I suspect that Odair-Adrian might have been abandoned about 1978 but
it had been unused since the 1950s. Adrian-Wheeler is listed in
TimeTable #27 as the 16th
subdivision of the Portland Division.
Grand Coulee Dam is the
largest concrete structure built in North America. Raising the water
surface 350 feet above the old riverbed, the dam is 5,233 feet long,
550 feet high, and contains 11,975,500 cubic yards of concrete. The
original dam was modified for the Third Powerplant by a
1,170-foot-long, 201-foot-high forebay dam along the right abutment
approximately parallel to the river and at an angle of 64 degrees to
the axis of Grand Coulee Dam. The third Powerplant was authorized in
1966. Most of the actual construction took place in the early 1970s
with final completion in 1975.
The siding named “Major”
was apparently built late in the NP era and was still there in 1982.
I would speculate that it’s purpose was to provide a meeting place
for trains hauling Grand Coulee third powerhouse construction
materials. Interesting note that there is a 0.8 mileage difference
for “Major” between TimeTable #3 (MP 36.6) and TimeTable #27 (MP
37.4) – did they move the station sign? “Cement” was BN
constructed, sometime before 1982. While I couldn’t find specific
mention of this, I believe that “Cement” was constructed as a
transfer station for third powerhouse construction materials, mostly
cement, during that construction period in the early 1970s. This
would also be true for the large building on the spur about 1 mile
north of Odair. It is interesting to note that this line segment is
NOT listed in any of the three TimeTables. The grain elevators at
“Cement” were constructed in the 1980s. We know that Coulee City
facilities were expanded after the Mansfield line, 16th
subdivision of the Spokane division, was abandoned on 5/14/1985.
Possibly Cement handled some of the grain that formerly went into
1) When was the siding at
"Major" actually removed?
2) When were the grain
facilities at "Cement" actually constructed and what was
3) When was the building
on the spur north of Odair actually constructed. I understand that
it's purpose was to unload large equipment (transformers, etc) for
the third powerhouse.
4) When was the siding and
station at "Webb" established. This was a chip loading
facility for the lumber mill at Lincoln, down on the river.
5) When was the chip
loader at "Webb" removed?
I am sure there are other
questions that I haven’t thought of.
Burlington Northern Inc
Spokane Division Time Table 1, dated Tuesday, March 3, 1970
Burlington Northern Inc
Time Table 3, dates Sunday, October 25, 1970
Burlington Northern RR Co
Seattle-Portland Region Time Table 27, dated Sunday, April 25, 1982
Marc Entze – “Abandoned
Rail Lines in Eastern Washington and Oregon”, from his PHD