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.


Monday, November 21, 2016

1934 Roosevelt At Ephrata

August 4, 1934.

Roosevelt's special train stops in Ephrata. Of note to me is the locomotive and car at the west switch (at the top of the photo) which was likely run a block or two ahead of the official train, as a precaution.

So much has changed in Ephrata over the years. The mainline is still there, as it part of the siding and the industry track. What other changes can you see?



Sunday, November 20, 2016

Coulee City Roundhouse Track Diagram

This site is still largely the same today, save for having been ripped out years ago. The earthen ramp to the coaling dock is still in place, which is largely covered in coal dust. The track to the loading dock today is partially made up from the track that went to the turntable. There is no sign of the roundhouse or turntable today.


Friday, November 18, 2016

Dam Road Grader

Photograph by the Bureau of Reclamation

While construction of the grade was done with a minimum of major equipment, the recently invented road grader was used. Here is an example being steered by the guy on the back while being pulled by the tractor. This very grader was recently discovered sitting near a pile of scrap metal outside of the locomotive maintenance shed at Odair and was removed for preservation.


Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Christening First US Construction Railroad Train At Odair

Courtesy of Mike Denuty.

Opening of the Construction Railroad was a big deal, as it meant that supplies flowing to the building of Grand Coulee Dam could begin in earnest. Part of the festivities of the opening of the railroad was Washington State Governor, Clarence Martin, of Cheney. He’s the one dressed up as the engineer. Miss Mary Cole with bottle of christening water; Rufus Woods the Publisher of the Wenatchee Daily World with his hat in his left hand; Mrs. Clarence Dill, Rosalie Gardiner Jones, standing to the right of Woods, whose husband pushed for the Dam in Congress; James O’ Sullivan, near the right with glasses, was a driving force to get the Dam built.


Saturday, November 12, 2016

Ring Seal Gates At Grand Coulee Dam

Courtesy of the Grant Historical Society Museum.


The railroad brought in many premade parts to the dam site. This load of ring seal gates for the 102-inch diameter outlet works, on top of the construction trestle along the face of the dam, will be lifted off the flatcar by the crane in the background.


Friday, November 11, 2016

First Official Train To Grand Coulee Dam

Photograph by the Bureau of Reclamation; courtesy of the Grant County Historical Museum.

Washington Governor Clarence Martin was at the throttle of the first train to Grand Coulee on July 29, 1935. That’s him alighting from the cab in full engineer’s garb.  The locomotive itself is new to the line this day, having previously served on the Southern Pacific since being built in 1903. It must not have been in the best shape, as in two years it will be set aside out of service. MWAK stood for the initials of the construction companies involved in construction of the Dam at the time; Silas Mason Co. from Louisville, Kentucky, Walsh Construction Co. of Davenport, Iowa and New York and Atkinson-Kier Company of San Francisco and San Diego.


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

First Official Train To Grand Coulee

This may have been the only passenger train to traverse the newly constructed railroad between Coulee City and Grand Coulee Dam. With Governor Clarence D. Martin at the throttle, the special train marked the grand opening of the new railroad line between those two cities. 



Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Dam Switchbacks



 Photo courtesy of the Bureau of Reclamation.

Construction of the Dam hinged on the railroad bringing in supplies. The depth of the dam below the mouth of the coulee above made it difficult for a traditional railroad to be built. Grades of 5% were accepted for the project, including a number of switchbacks, due to the limited room in the construction zone. Note here the few different switchbacks the railroad used. The highway, still in use today, curves through the image at the right. This view, from about 1937, shows the east side coffer dam still in place.  The famous “frozen landslide” was just behind this portion of the dam. 


Monday, November 7, 2016

Electric City Yards



 Photograph by the Bureau of Reclamation; courtesy of the Grant County Historical Museum.

A yard at Electric City was constructed to further sort construction materials and build certain parts of Grand Coulee Dam before shipping to the actual site.  This view, on December 15, 1937, is now completely under water. The photographer was standing in between today’s Coulee Playland and North Dam Park, and they were looking northwest across the Grand Coulee. 


Saturday, November 5, 2016

Last Crew On US Construction Railroad



 Photograph by the Bureau of Reclamation; courtesy of the Grant County Historical Museum.

Veteran crewman work on the Government Railroad which “delivered” Grand Coulee Dam, and which the Bureau of Reclamation announced on August 4, 1950 will be removed under bids to be opened  August 31, 1950. Floyd Craig, left, conductor, had been with the road since the first spike was driven in 1934. Engineer Haskell Finch joined up about the time the hauling started. Fred A. Warren, center, has been superintendent all but two years since the Government took charge of running the road from the Consolidated Builders, Inc.,  after the dam was completed. The Bureau would continue to operate the switchyards at Odair after the track removal.  The “IDBR” on the locomotives stands for “Interior Department Bureau of Reclamation.” 


Thursday, November 3, 2016

1944 Grand Coulee Dam View

It’s quite impressive what has changed since this photo was taken on May 31, 1944. While the dam is essentially the same, most everything on the dam side of the road through town has changed.  Notable is the Green Hut restaurant, just above the crossing of the railroad tracks and the highway, is now the site of the Visitor’s Center. Also note the railroad tracks bordering the water just opposite of the spillway. They were removed after the floods of May 1948, ending a popular tourist train ride.