Thursday, December 29, 2016

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Beginning Work On The Waterville Railway

 Courtesy of Darrin Nelson. See his blog at

Construction work on the Waterville Railway started in 1909 just to the east of Waterville. Local residents wanted rail service to their town and organized their own railroad after realizing that the Great Northern would get no closer than Douglas, about 5 miles away. 

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Monte Holm's Junk Yard

Courtesy of Steve Rimple.

Monte Holm operated a successful junk yard for many years, which fit in with his long time job of scrapping logging railroads and such throughout the Pacific Northwest. The story goes that he tried to get the Milwaukee Road to build a spur into his junk yard if he would ship 50 cars of scrap the second year of operation. He had to pay for the spur construction himself after being denied by the railroad to build it with their money.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Will Extend The Road

Northern  Pacific is to build from Coulee City to the Columbia and tap the Okanogan mines.

From the "Spokane Chronicle."

June 15, 1893

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

557 at Everett

Courtesy of Allen Miller.

The 557’s first step out of the Everett scrapyard where Monte bought the engine was the Great Northern yard there, where it was interchanged to the Milwaukee Road for shipment to Moses Lake.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

557 Arriving In Moses Lake

Courtesy of Steve Rimple

The 557 arrived in Moses Lake in 1965 after being sold to an Everett, WA area junk yard. The rear headlight on the tender was encased to keep it from being removed between Everett and Moses Lake. Monte and two of his friends rode the engine from Warden to Moses Lake.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Grand Coulee Dam Construction Trestle

Photograph by the Bureau of Reclamation

This unique 1939 view is courtesy of one of the holes drilled into the west hillside for the discharge pipes used to carry water to what will become Banks Lake. This view shows the back or upstream side of the dam.  Note the Northern Pacific boxcars on the construction trestle traveling across what will become the face of the dam. At the far end of the dam note the notch in the hillside, that will match the profile of the completed dam.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Grand Coulee Cement Train

Courtesy of the Grant County Historical Museum.

Most trains bound for Grand Coulee were just like this one on April 6, 1949; boxcars of bulk cement. There were different sources of cement for use in construction, to help meet the incredible demand. These particular cars more than likely were handed off by the Great Northern to the Northern Pacific at Adrian, Washington, for delivery to the Construction railroad at Odair.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Ryan Construction Locomotive

The Ryan Construction Company needed a locomotive to help construction activities after winning the bid to build the line. They found this little Heisler geared steam locomotive from a lumber outfit at Marcus, Washington. Here is it, pictured near the yard at Electric City, on very freshly laid track. Note that there is no form of ballast between the ties, having been laid directly on the coulee floor.

Dennis Thompson sent along the following information about this locomotive:

75 ton Heisler s/n 1444, blt 9/1920 for Union Lbr. Co., of Packwood Spur, WA.
to Hedlund Lbr. & Mfg. Co., Marcus, WA
to David Ryan Construction Co., Coulee Dam, WA
     (Ryan Siding RR)
to Eugene Enloe, (Dealer), Spokane, WA
to U.S. War Department, Fort Peck, MT

Emblem on side of oil tank is a dead ringer for a Masonic Lodge.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Electric City Penstock Load

Courtesy the NPTellTale.

Penstocks were built at the fabrication plant in Electric City, being far too large to ship by rail. Here is one of the 18 foot sections getting ready to depart for the dam. Locomotive 830 was built new for Consolidated Builders, Inc., in February 1939. This view shows the north wall of the Grand Coulee in the background.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Penstock Load At Dam

Photograph by the Bureau of Reclamation

This 18 foot penstock section is being lowered downgrade to the dam from the fabrication plant at Electric City. Note this type of locomotive, a Shay, which featured reduction gearing, is particularly suited to steep grades, slow operations, and heavy loads. The round object on the top of the penstock segment is a manhole cover. These access points are still used inside the galleries of the dam. What will become the upriver side of the dam is seen in the background.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

US Construction Railroad Mule Power

Photograph by the Bureau of Reclamation

Part of the way to keep costs low when building the railroad grade to Grand Coulee Dam was the use of mules for heavy grade leveling. Understand that when the contractor, Ryan Construction Company submitted a bid, they had in mind to do the work to the minimum standard at the lowest cost with the most profit to the company. Mules would fit this profile just fine.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Banks Lake Railroad Grade

In late 2011, the Bureau of Reclamation drastically lowered Banks Lake, the equalizing reservoir between Grand Coulee and Coulee City. It was along this stretch that the Construction railroad had been built. This time of low water allowed many sections of the old grade to be visible for the first time in years. In this photo, looking approximately north with Steamboat Rock to the immediate left, there was a grade crossing with two remaining railroad ties; 60 years after the rails were pulled up. Normally there would be about 20 feet of water over the grade here.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Grand Coulee Dam Construction Trestle View

Courtesy NP Telltale.

In this view of the west side mix plant, note how the railroad grade sweeps around from the hillside in the background and connects with the construction trestle across the work site.  Careful viewing will show flatcars laden with cement hoppers pulled by small locomotives near the Whirley cranes on top of the trestles.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Laying Rail In The Grand Coulee

Photograph courtesy of the Bureau of Reclamation.

The Ryan Construction Company was the winning bidder for the construction of the railroad line in 1934. They had a small crew of men out in the coulee laying rail with a crane. Note that the ties are untreated, probably to reduce cost knowing that they would not need to be in place for 30 years.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Dam Inspection Trip

Upper photograph by the Bureau of Reclamation; courtesy of the Grant County Historical Museum. Lower courtesy of the Hu Blonk Papers, EWU Archives, Image Number 5-36-1-B1

The two most important visitors on the train crossing Grand Coulee Dam on October 25, 1938, are Secretary of the Interior Harold L. Ickes and the Commissioner of Reclamation John Page along with Construction Supervisor Frank Banks.  That’s Ickes below the locomotive number, and Banks to his left.  Ickes’ trip to Grand Coulee was part of a much larger trip that Ickes took with his wife Jane starting on October 16, 1938.  This trip was, in part, a chance for Ickes to inspect a number of Bureau of Reclamation projects that were underway throughout the West along with Page, who was responsible for getting the projects implemented.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Coulee City Standard Oil Spur

Must have been a fairly interesting place to spot a car, being so close to the end of track.

I'm not sure when the dealer closed, but it was in the early 1980s.

One building survives there today, along with a cell tower and a house built on the edge of the property.

See a satellite image here.