Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Beverly Bridge Construction Photo

Courtesy of the Othello Community Museum.

The steamboat St. Paul was used by the railroad to haul bridge building supplies from the Great Northern station upstream at Vulcan to Beverly, where the mile long bridge over the Columbia was being constructed.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Priest Rapids Dam Railroad Spur

Courtesy of the Grant PUD Archives.

This December 1957 view shows the construction of Priest Rapids Dam near the railroad siding of Priest Rapids on the Hanford Branch. Note the new railroad spur to get construction materials into the site.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Taunton Substation

Courtesy of the Othello Community Museum.

This is the recently completed substation at Taunton in 1919. This was the first substation along the Coast Division outside of Othello. Commercial power was supplied to the substation at 100,000 volts a.c. and then converted to 3000 volts d.c. via motor-generator sets inside the building.  The power was then transmitted to the overhead wires above the tracks for the electric locomotives to use.   The number 21 came from all the substations along the line being numbered from east to west. The proposed substations between Othello and Avery, ID were never built.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Mansfield Branch RPO

Railway Post Offices were one a very efficient way to move mail across the country. This was via a contract with the Post Office and the railroad for service. Most every rail line had RPO service. The designated train had a special car that had mail from the regional center in bags for towns along the line. As the train passed through each town, a bag was thrown off to the station and another was taken aboard. That bag was then sorted and placed in the bags for further delivery down the line or for return to a regional center. Since the RPO operated in each direction, towns got twice daily mail service. This postcard was delivered by train #381, the Mansfield & Wenatchee RPO on November 10, 1914. This train was discontinued in January 1925.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Milepost 1

The milepost 1 sign, of the Mansfield Branch, still sits above the current BNSF mainline near the Columbia River.  The sign still marks the first mile of the branch that hasn’t seen a train in nearly 30 years.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Douglas Depot

Courtesy of the Great Northern Railway Historical Society.

The Douglas depot was the last open agency on the Mansfield branch. It was closed in 1975 and was otherwise unused. Burlington Northern sold it to Central Washington Grain Growers not long after the line was abandoned in 1985. By 1994, it was deemed to be old and obsolete so was allowed to be burned down as a training exercise by the area fire department. The night before the fire the station signs were removed for safe keeping. In the background, note the string of boxcars for grain loading in this 1983 view. The stack just in front of the end boxcar are  grain doors, used to mostly close the side door of the boxcar to allow it to be filled with grain through the upper portion of the opening.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

1147 At Mansfield

Photo by Henry Gallaher; courtesy of Mary Ellen Wax.

Mansfield was the end of the branch line. There was a wye at the end used to turn steam locomotives, instead of an expensive to build turntable. Here the 1147, typical branch line power for the Great Northern, has just been turned on the wye in 1947 for the return trip to Wenatchee. The building to the left of the steamer is the pump house, and the water tank used to sit beyond it. Of note is that this is the very steam locomotive on display in Wenatchee since May 21, 1956, just on your right after crossing  the Columbia River on SR 285 in Mission Street Park.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Pre-1925 Rock Island Bridge

Courtesy of Scott Tanner.

The bridge over the Columbia River near Rock Island took some time to build, so for a while a ferry moved trains across the river up near where the railroad yard is in Wenatchee. The bridge was completed in the 1892 and ran that way for years until the Great Northern was getting some truly heavy steam locomotives in 1925 and needed to upgrade the bridge. Instead of rerouting traffic over a competing line, or building another bridge, they simply built a new bridge around the current bridge, making this one of the most unique bridges in service today. This view, shows what it looked like up until 1925.

The two images were from a stereoscopic print made of the bridge.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Rock Island Depot

Courtesy of the Great Northern Railway Historical Society.

The depot at Rock Island was not the first one in this location, the prior one having been moved here from Irby around 1930. That depot lasted until 1942 when the pictured one was built. The oblong black thing just above the right edge of the roof is the train order signal, installed in 1943. It was used to tell passing trains if they had to stop for orders. On the left is part of the yard for the Keokuk Electro Metals site. The small industrial locomotive seen in the distance to the right of the mainline now sits in the Wenatchee Riverfront Park in Wenatchee.

Monday, May 16, 2016

1958 Ephrata Grain Elevator Fire

Photograph by H. Cliff Baughman.

Courtesy of the Odessa Historisches Museum.

Ephrata lost some grain storage capacity in November 1958. Wheat dust can explode in the right conditions, and this is likely what happened here. Note all the wheat that has come out of the elevator, and the skeleton of the wood sided boxcar as well. Fires like this also happened at Quincy, Odessa, and Lauer.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

1925 Odessa Flooding

Courtesy of the Odessa Historisches Museum.

In January 1925, Crab Creek overflowed its banks after a mid-winter thaw and nearly washed out the tracks at Odessa. Crab Creek is normally very well behaved, but has occasionally become the raging torrent seen here at Odessa and also at Wilson Creek, where the mainline has washed out a time or two. The bridge number was changed by the 1950s to reflect the milepost location, instead of being the 320th bridge from St. Paul.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

1967 Wenatchee Caboose Mishap

Courtesy Dora Shirk.

A little mishap occurred one Saturday night in October 1967.  The caboose got shoved off the end of the caboose track and fell into the Thurston St. underpass that ran between the Railway Express building and the freight house/yard office in Wenatchee.  This building was immediately to the left out of the photo. The caboose was repaired and had many more years of service before being donated to the city of Scottsbluff, NE and is currently used as a tourist information office.

 Ben Thompson tracked it down and here is what it looks like in March 2020:

Friday, May 13, 2016

1902 Ephrata Depot

Courtesy of the Grant County Historical Museum.

The 1902 depot in Ephrata was a marked improvement over the older shoe box sized one previously used. This one sports a train order board, to alert passing trains whether they had to stop for orders or not. There is also an oil lamp on the top of the board. Note the velocipede on the left of the depot. It was a bicycle like machine, with three wheels, to allow maintenance workers an easy way to use the tracks to get from place to place. 

Thursday, May 12, 2016

1893 Harrington Depot

Courtesy of the Lincoln County Historical Society.

The Harrington depot was brand new in this 1893 photo. There must have been enough potential business for the Great Northern to build a modest sized depot like this Note the man on the velocipede on the far left. This was an inexpensive way for one man to move along the tracks at speeds greater than by foot.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

1893 Harrington Coal Dock

Courtesy of the Lincoln County Historical Society.

Coaling docks on a mainline were usually of a significant size. A carload of coal was left at the base of the ramp, then pulled up with a winch into the structure where the car was dumped. The coal then could be poured into steam engines as needed. Docks were not built at every station, but were spaced out far enough to properly service engines without the fear of running out of coal between the endpoints of the run. This brand new one is seen under construction at Harrington in 1893.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

First Ephrata Depot View

Courtesy of the Grant County Historical Museum.

The first depot in Ephrata was a small affair, but had all the flavor of a much larger place. Note the train order board, the elongated oval thing hanging out over the door. This was a signal to trains to stop for orders. The lineside wires were connected directly to the depot. Note the glass insulators on the left of the building. This allowed communication with other stations along the line and to headquarters in St. Paul.  The replacement depot on the right, opened in 1902, is nearly done.

Monday, May 9, 2016

1900 Odessa

Courtesy of the Odessa Historisches Museum.

Odessa was platted in the summer of 1899 after the Great Northern Railway had built its line through the valley in 1892. The siding there was named Odessa by railroad surveyors after the Russian city Odessa, because of the German-speaking Russian wheat farmers in the area. This view date to about the time the depot was built in 1900.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

1945 GN Publicity Photo Near Rock Island

Courtesy of the Great Northern Railway Historical Society.

This Great Northern Railway publicity photo, probably about 1945 when this locomotive was built, was taken just downstream of Rock Island Dam. The end of the train is probably still in Tunnel 12, which was made into an open cut a few years later. You can see the scar on the hillside above the last boxcar for the highway. Note that the train is not moving, so the photographer can get a good shot; the engineer and fireman would not be standing in the window if the train was moving.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

1910s Wilson Creek Wreck

Courtesy of the Grant County Historical Museum.

When the Great Northern built through the Big Bend area in 1892, 100 miles was considered an average trip, and crews were able to get over that distance in one shift. As such, about 100 miles from Spokane was Wilson Creek. Crews' pay was also based on 100 miles.  All you got for going that far was one day's pay- but if the trip was over 100 or some special chore awarded you some additional arbitrary miles, the pay for your trip increased. An intermediate terminal was built there, so trains could be switched around, locomotives could be serviced at the roundhouse, and crews could be changed. This wreck looks like the crew was expecting the switch to be lined one way, and were travelling fast enough that when they took the switch the wrong way, the locomotive was flung from the tracks.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Royal City Branch Dedication Photos

Courtesy of the Moses Lake Museum & Art Center.

June 10, 1967

Transcript of Milwaukee Road President Crippen's remarks at the ceremony can be seen here.

1900s Lamona

Courtesy of the Odessa Historisches Museum.

The Hoyt-Delany grain warehouse at Lamona was typical of every other grain building in the Big Bend in that it was designed to be able to store 50 lb sacks of wheat from the farm. The farmer making the delivery in the foreground was like most every other farmer, manually sacking grain on his farm for delivery to the warehouse. Sacks were then loaded on boxcars for shipment. Bulk shipment of grain didn’t become common until the 1970s.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

1897 Wilbur Wreck

Photograph by S.L. Houck; courtesy of the Lincoln County Historical Society.

This view, near Wilbur in March 1897, shows that a train wreck was cheap entertainment. Everybody in town was there learning how the wrecking crew rolled the locomotive out of the ditch in 12 hours. Surely there was no doubt in the minds of the onlookers that the company could raise the next ditched engine without their “assistance.”