Monday, December 11, 2017

1947 Bacon Siphon Tunnel

Courtesy of the University of Idaho.

Served by a Northern Pacific Connolly spur to the right and quite a few feet higher. The siphon tunnel was built to a 22 foot wide dimension.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Discussion of the Seattle Lake Shore & Eastern in Spokane

This is a discussion culled from the GNGoat email Yahoo group from late 2005/early 2006.

From: "Don"
Subject: Re Seattle, Lake Shore, & Eastern

> I've read or heard where the GN leased trackage in downtown Spokane
> from the Seattle, Lake Shore, & Eastern. Anyone care to comment on this?

I'm not sure what the business arrangement was with this line. SLS&E projected
a route from Seattle to Spokane in the late 1880s, did construction work as far
west as Coulee City and laid rail from Spokane's first union station at Mallon
& Washington (joint with the OR&N) to near Davenport. By 1890 the first and
last trains had run. The outermost portion of the line survived as a curious
hook-shaped NPR branch, while the section between Garden Springs and Medical
Lake was taken over by Washington Water Power for its interurban. And the
section through Spokane, bridging the river at Downriver and passing what would
become Fort Wright Junction, was used by the Great Northern until its own high
bridge was built. For how long, I don't know. Nor do I know quite how GNR
managed to reach the Union Station from the east.

The remains of SLS&E line through the city survived until recent years, at
first under Union Pacific ownership and later Great Northern, as far northwest
as the vicinity of Belt Street and Augusta Avenue.


From: "bn6430"
Subject:  Re:Seattle Lake Shore and Eastern

     The Great Northern arrived in Spokane mid-year of 1892. The
right-of-way granted to the G.N. required six bridges across the
Spokane River-three large ones and three smaller ones. In order to
expedite construction they set up trackage rights with two existing
railroads in Spokane.

     The first mile on the east side of town was over the Oregon
Railway and Navigation line. This took them to a Union Depot jointly
operated by the O.R.&N. and the Seattle Lake Shore and Eastern. The
current location would be the northeast corner of Washington Street
and North River Drive.

     The remaining approx. four miles west of the Union Depot
belonged to the S.L.S.& E. This enabled the G.N. to rejoin their own
right-of-way just to the north of the military post Fort George
Wright. A large timber bridge on the Lake Shore crossed the Spokane
River about two miles west of the Union Depot.

     The G.N. made use of these arrangements until their own line via
Havermale Island and what would become Fort Wright Station was
completed in June of 1901. The passenger depot on Havermale Island
(from which the clocktower still stands) was not completed until June
of 1902.

     The G.N. generated some business on the old Lake Shore trackage.
Both they and the O.R.& N. maintained industry tracks just to the
west of the Maple St. area. After 1922 the G.N. set up an agreement
with the O.R.& N. (Union Pacific) to do all the switching on the
north river bank and deliver all G.N. business to a small transfer
yard near Gonzaga University.


From: "GUY"
Subject: Re:Seattle Lake Shore and Eastern

I thought the GN gained access to Spokane on the Spokane Falls & Northern mainline which became the Spike Yard Spur Track, crossing Division Street into the Spokane Falls & Northern Depot ?  Bax...
From: Jim
Subject: Re: Seattle, Lake Shore, & Eastern

> I've read or heard where the GN leased trackage in downtown Spokane
> from the Seattle, Lake Shore, & Eastern. Anyone care to comment on this?

I was sure that someone else would comment on this ...  Yes, apparently
that's true.  When the GN arrived in Spokane, I've read that they used
the SLS&E trackage to exit Spokane to the west until they were able to
complete their own bridges over the Spokane River.   The SLS&E had a
huge, wooden trestle over the Spokane River north/downstream of the site
were GN built their Fort Wright trestle. I understand that the GN used
the OR&N/SLS&E Union depot north of the river during this time.  This
was the "first" Union depot.

I've forgotten all of the details, but later the GN acquired a portion
of the SLS&E trackage north of downtown to use as an industrial lead.
It goes something like this...  The NP bought the SLS&E and then
abandoned the portion of the line between Spokane and Cheney.  The GN
didn't want the UP to have sole access to downtown Spokane north of the
river, so they took control of the SLS&E between downtown and the Lake
Shore's crossing of the Spokane River on the northwest side of Spokane.

This line ran diagonally NW from near the site of the current Inn at the
Park/Flour Mill past the REI store. You can still see part of the right
of way at REI.  The UP had a parallel spur.  To reach the spur, the GN
used a bridge from Havermale Island (or just east of the island by their
downtown yard) across the northern channel of the Spokane River.

Can anyone offer more details or corrections?  If anyone's interested, I
can probably dig up my sources for this info and maybe even some maps.

Best Regards,


From: "Sheldon"
Subject: Re: Seattle, Lake Shore, & Eastern

> Can anyone offer more details or corrections?

There were actually two GN bridges.  One that took off from the south bank of the river
out of the downtown yard and across a short piece of the east end of Havermale island
and then back onto another bridge over to the north shore, with the track then immediatey
crossing Washington.  (See photo reference above.)  My understanding is that these
bridges were short-lived, disappearing sometime in the 1920's.

I know the GN line west of Washington was in place right up until the merger, if not Expo. 
It too can be seen in many aerial views of Spokane.

Mike Denuty could tell you a lot more about this sort of stuff.


Friday, December 8, 2017

BN 8173 West At Adrian

Courtesy of Brian Ambrose.

November 7, 1981.

Taken from the vantage-point of the long gone NP-built trestle.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

How To Screw Up A Railroad Forever In 1888-1890

Guest post by Ted Curphey.

I've been deeply engrossed in research recently (how anyone can ever be bored in the age of the internet is beyond me). The Northern Pacific Central Washington Branch was built based on the 1887 survey by engineer J.Q. Jamieson (sometimes misspelled Jamison or J.I.Jamieson). Jamieson was a very busy man in those heady days prior to World War I when railroads were being pushed into all corners of the country. He also had skill and a knack for locating railroads in difficult terrain. From 1885 until late 1887 Jamieson was the construction engineer on the Stampede Pass Tunnel, and then surveyed the CW branch. By 1895 he was chief engineer of the Astoria & Columbia River RR which was building east out of Astoria up the Columbia River to the NP at Goble, OR. 1901 found him back in the employ of the NP at Tacoma when he became the Division Engineer. Jamieson quit the NP again at the end of 1902 to help build the Western Pacific RR. 1905 found him locating the railroad in the extremely rugged Feather River Canyon between Oroville and the Nevada State Line.

The CW Line as located by Jamieson would have been a wonderful branchline with moderate grades and curves. Unfortunately for locomotive engineers and railroad accountants since then, a group of NP directors involved in a townsite company had sway over the final route of the as built NP Central Washington Branch. They rerouted the line to prospective townsites such as Hite, Creston and Hanson to resell the town plots at a great profit once the railroad was established. The deviations imposed on the route sharp curves, steep grades and extra mileage. The Jamieson Survey was to have maximum grades of 0.7% and maximum curves of 7 degrees. Instead the CW line as laid out by construction engineer C.F. Reardan has grades up to 1.5% and curves as sharp as 10 degrees. Even rival Seattle Lake Shore and Eastern was building a line with max grades of 1% compensated and max curvature of 7 degrees.

Today the Eastern Washington Gateway RR still struggles with the extra operational cost and difficulties caused by the detours. Attached is a map showing the westernmost of the detours with the approximated survey between MP86 and MP104. By rerouting the tracks northwest out of Almira, an extra 123' of elevation that had to be climbed to surmount the ridge between Hartline and Almira over the route of the Survey. The Deviation also added some extra miles to the line as well. For whatever reason, the directors involved in the townsite business like to place towns at high point, such as Hanson. But this really does not make sense as there is a scarcity of water at those lofty points, and the townsites are exposed to wind and harsh weather conditions. Little wonder that the "town" of Hanson never developed beyond the grain elevators occupying space along the railroad siding intended for the town. BTW, the location now known as Cement at the far west end of the detour was originally known as Patterson, and may have been another one the townsites that failed to develop.

The as built CW branch also varied greatly from the survey between Teleford (a.k.a. Fellows) and Govan (MP57 to MP81 on the CW line). The surveyed line featured light grades (0.2%) and curvature with only one summit, but was replaced with the worst grades and sharp curves on the as built line. Even where the CW line followed the 1887 survey, the cheap, rushed construction failed to follow the standards set in the 1887 survey, eschewing deep cuts and tall fills or trestles that would have eased the grade and curvature. Today trains struggle to climb the 1.2% grade out of Wilbur and bite at the sharp curves in the grades going in and out of "Cougar Canyon" east of Webb. Jamieson specifically sought to avoid the steep grades and heavy rock work that would be required along the current route by swinging to the south and following Sinking Creek to Govan. Map 2 clearly shows the route.

Perhaps the most frustrating part of the deviations from the 1887 survey was between MP12 and MP 26 on the CW Line, where a virtually flat and tangent route was replaced with the "Roller Coaster", as the section from Reardan to Deep Creek is known. The current route is 4.5 miles longer than the survey and features multiple grades of up to 1.2% and curves as sharp as 10 degrees. Included in this is a drop of 227' from a point near Hite to Deep Creek. That may not sound like much in a standard automobile, but for a 8000 ton train that works out to 3.6 Billion foot-pounds of force required to climb that distance. According to notes, the grade was virtually complete along the route of the 1887 survey in 1888 and ready for track when the NP directors changed the routing to benefit their townsite at Hite (which failed to develop).

The CW line was far from the only part of the NP to suffer from short-sightedness on the part of NP management of the time, as that was the case during much of the early history of the railroad. NP struggled to turn a profit for years due to the high operating costs imposed by this kind of half-assed construction, and it would take hundreds of realignments to make the mainline acceptable. But the CW Line never benefited from those realignments, and the track remains where C.F. Reardan placed it 128 years ago!

Sunday, December 3, 2017

1910 Beverly Photo

Thanks to Allen Miller for helping narrow down the date.

He adds:

I'm guessing those locomotives are both Prairies, the lite engine on the right is probably the helper. I can't make out the numbers. This would be very early, late 1909 or 1910. No idea on the photographer. When they were using Prairies (before the bigger Mikado's arrived) they probably used both a head end and rear end helper to get freight trains up Beverly hill.
The depot is in the orange and maroon with white trim scheme. Doors and window frames were black. Richard Percy Rozelle was the agent at Beverly at this time.

Friday, December 1, 2017

How To Run 3 CW Trains With Trainorders.....Or Not!

Reprinted with permission from Thomas A. White.

Thanks to Ted Curphey for bringing this to my attention.

Thomas White (TAW) is a very experienced dispatcher having worked for the
B&O Chicago Terminal Railway, BN and BNSF. He also worked on special
projects for BN and BNSF and later as a private consultant. He has more
than his share of stories to tell and has written a few excellent books on
railway operations. He recently shared this story about trying to go the
extra mile for CW customers only to get burned by a lazy trainmaster. This
is a very detailed and complex story;

"At some time in the early-mid 80s, I was the Spokane Division day
assistant chief dispatcher. I was working with a brand-new, not fresh out
of the box because he was never in one, trainmaster. He was not a
management trainee. He was in charge of the BN Coulee City (CW) and the
Palouse (P&L) branches. He was also the son of a BN VIP.

There was heavy grain loading on the CW, exceptionally heavy. Regular
service was three days out, Spokane to Coulee City Monday, Wednesday,
Friday, and three days back, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. The railroad
was in…..let’s say transition. Senior management was pushing the railroad
toward terminals running the railroad and chief dispatchers answering the
phone and saying yes. However, there were no official written instructions
to that effect. I still considered it my railroad to run (as did others
who fought the system until realizing that it was over). My responsibility
as chief was to be sure that the trainmaster had the means needed to move
the traffic. His responsibility was to ensure that the plan was executed.
One might expect trainmasters to communicate trends and needs in advance,
but most of us didn't depend on it.

Back in those days, the chief dispatcher kept running track of the cars on
hand to move on line and the traffic to move in yards and terminals. We
weren’t allowed to let terminals get plugged nor allow cars to sit on line
waiting to move for an excessively long time. Each of us on the chief jobs
had our own set of COMPASS (the BN Information System) inquiry cards to
run when we came to work. Yes, each of us had a deck of IBM cards, a
couple of inches thick, that we put into the card reader when we came to
work. Later, it was a file in the Yard Management System computer, but we
still called it cards because COMPASS was a mainframe computer that only
spoke cards. The computer inquiry files were still formatted like 80
column IBM cards. Running the cards would result in a pile of greenbar
printout a couple of inches thick. Any of us could spend 30 minutes going
through it page by page and have a clear understanding of what was
happening and what would happen. That information would be supplemented by
phone calls to yardmasters depending on the situation. For example, 150
cars for Pasco at Spokane is not a big deal if they have been on hand for
a couple of hours. They would still need to be inspected and switched.
I’ll talk to the yardmaster in a while. 150 cars for Pasco that have been
on hand for 20 hours takes a call to the yardmaster right now.

An example of my cards on the Spokane Division chief job:

Block consist lineup (for each train shows ETA and breakdown of train
consist by load-empty-tons-feet per block / destination) for Northtown,
Minot, Havre, Shelby, Whitefish, Yardley (Spokane), Wenatchee, and Pasco.

Power consist lineup for Shelby (many trains get new power at Havre so not
much sense in looking at power east of Havre), Whitefish, Spokane. We kept
power on the sheet for trains on our railroad (Whitefish – Yardley –
Wenatchee) but the power lineup provided condition and maintenance due for

Yard list by block (loads, empties, tons, feet by block and hours on hand)
for Northtown, Minot, Havre, Shelby, Whitefish, Yardley, Pasco,

Minor areas (tracks between terminals – COMPASS did not keep detailed
track of cars outside of terminals, just car-load/empty-station)
Minot-Havre, Havre-Shelby, Shelby-Whitefish, Whitefish-Yardley,
Yardley-Wenatchee, CW (Coulee City) branch, P&L (Palouse) branch, and
Kettle Falls branch.

Car orders everything between Minot and Wenatchee/Pasco and the CW, P&L,
Kettle Falls branches.

After the first pass reading the printout and making notes, it’s time to
compare the power on the sheet with the power lineups and be sure that all
condition/maintenance notes are marked up. Then call the Parkwater
(Yardley) roundhouse to compare the power on the sheet with what the
foreman has: condition, dates, facing which way, and where. The where
could be important. When setting up power, if the units could be any of
several, choose the easiest for the roundhouse to make. When something
specific needs to happen, however inconvenient, the roundhouse guys will
get right on it without complaint or delay because they know that the
chief and the foreman take care of them when possible and switching out a
unit from the middle of a line of them isn’t make work.

Now comes matching what the printout says to what the turnover says. If
there is traffic out there that isn’t represented in the plan the previous
shift left, need to get to work on that first. After that is extending (or
fixing if necessary) the current plan, which generally extends 24 hours
from when you came to work.

During this particular week, I saw the grain loads and car orders building
on the CW branch at a rate that could not be handled by the three times a
week CW local (out Monday, Wednesday, Friday, back Tuesday, Thursday,
Saturday). The need for a couple of extras on Sunday was apparent by
mid-week. Loads were building upon line. Empties were building up at

I stuck out a wire (email nowadays) to the Yardley yardmasters and
trainmasters, the Parkwater roundhouse foreman, and the branch trainmaster
(who hadn’t noticed over 100 grain loads on hand that he hadn’t moved and
wasn’t going to be able to). It looked like three trains, not two would be
needed in order to get the loads pulled and empties spotted for loading in
a day. There was too much work for the regular three times a week train to
finish in a in a week.

There was only one day to go get all this business. How is that going to

I set it up the same way as I learned to do on the SP West Side line
between Fresno and Tracy during fruit rush. Divide the line into blocks
separated by a register station. Make use of the register station to keep
the trains apart but keep them from needing to flag. Representing the
traffic on a useful track car lineup was an additional necessity.

The plan would work like this:

I would need enough power to run three CW branch grain trains
simultaneously. On Saturday, I brought local service units from Whitefish
and Wenatchee. They would need to be returned Sunday night. I used Kettle
Falls local power that had to be returned Sunday night, P&L power, and the
regular CW power. This all had to be arranged on Friday.

Train 1 on duty 8am. Train 2 on duty 830am. Train 3 on duty 900am. Each
train would come to work at Yardley, register, get their work list and
orders, get the engine and train, and leave the main line onto the CW
branch at Cheney 90 minutes later. The trainmaster was supposed to leave
the list of stations at the Yardley telegraph office for each train to
work and the number of cars to get and leave at each station. Switch lists
and bills (all cars in those times had to be accompanied by the paper
waybill) at each station were in the usual bill box at the station.

The whole operation was going to be tight (Precision Railroading the way I
learned it). The CW line was (is) about 100 miles of dark railroad with no
open train order offices. There was no dispatcher phone and most of the
line could not be reached by radio. There was a register book, yard
limits, and a yard limits branch line to Eleanor at Davenport. The
register was only used by trains as directed by train order. There were
yard limits at Creston and Odair, between Davenport and Coulee City.
Trains had to protect anywhere else on the line. That wasn’t a big problem
in the days when the crew consisted of engineer, fireman, head man, hind
man, flagman, and conductor. Missing two of those people, working at
stations became more difficult and a lot slower. For that reason, the
regular CW local was fixed with a work order:


When a local was fixed with the same order (usually a work order or a run
extra and return), the order was called a rubber stamp. A rubber stamp has
the unintended consequence of the crew not even reading the order any

The railroad was theirs to work anywhere on the line without the need to
send a couple of guys further out into the boondocks (given that the whole
line is in the boondocks in the first place) to flag. Working the CW was
time consuming enough without that inconvenience. Of course, the track car
lineup was useless. If the gandys needed the track, they had to protect
against the train, even if it was not coming to where they were working.
That affected the MofW budget, not the trainmaster budget, so that was no

The plan involved one train working west of Davenport, one east of
Davenport, and one working Davenport and the Eleanor branch. The trick was
setting up three trains to work stations on 100 miles of dark railroad
without delaying the work for flagging or running slow watching for a

The set of orders needed to make the plan work looked like this:






1030AM UNTIL 801PM

1030AM UNTIL 530PM






There it is. 10 train orders to fix 3 trains on 100 miles of dark single
track with no operators, no dispatcher phone, and no radio. Each can
proceed about its work with very little need to consider the other trains.

It took a bit of time to figure it out and the trick job that handled the
CW was a busy main line job, so I gave the trick man a sketch (like this
example-see below) of how it would work. The trick man would check to be sure I
hadn’t missed anything, then spend a big part of Sunday morning 3rd trick
sticking out orders at Yardley to the three CW branch trains.

Sunday morning, the operator at Yardley called me. The first CW is there
but there is no work message or list for him or the other two. I called
the trainmaster. No answer.

I called again and left an answering machine message. I waited. The second
CW had come to work and my day was collapsing even if nothing else went
wrong. Even though I left a message, I called again…and again.

Finally, I got an answer. It seems that the trainmaster just got back from

The first and second CW are at Yardley ready to go except they don’t know
what they’re supposed to do. Did you leave them a work message or some

Well, no, I need to do that.

No, you needed to do that…yesterday.

It won’t take long to drive there. I can be there in 30-40 minutes.

I don’t have 30-40 minutes. Read the work to me. I’ll copy and send it to
the operator.

Sure, just a minute.

(the sound of the phone handset being put on the table, the sound of
footsteps and footsteps and rustling and footsteps, and the handset being
picked up)

I don’t have it. I’ll have to call you back.

What do you mean, you don’t have it?

Well….it looks like my wife used it for a shopping list. She just left a
few minutes ago.

She just left with the work for the CWs? When is she going to be back?

Oh, I don’t really know for sure. Maybe an hour or so or maybe more. She
had a lot of chores to do this morning. I can call you when she gets back.

Ok fine, I’m on the phone with the VIP son of a VVVIP, whose wife wrote
the shopping list on the apparently only copy of the work that my three
locals, all of which have been on duty for a while, are supposed to do.
The whole plan was worked out to let them all work independently and be
back in time to mail the units I borrowed back to their assignments.

All three are now in each other’s way, or they would be if they could go
somewhere. They might be able to go somewhere in an hour or so or maybe
not. A quick run through what would happen if all three blast off in an
hour or two or more brought the specter of dogcatches and power not making
it back in time to be mailed back to where it was borrowed from. Looking
at the power sheet, I didn’t see a readily available way to swap power and
mail other units back to where I borrowed from while the three CWs are out
there in each other’s way and dying in the boondocks where communication
was find a phone booth in a town.

No, don’t bother. It’s not going to work out. I’ll see about something else.

OK, well thanks.

I called the Yardley operator and told him to bust the calls on all three,
tell them to put in a timeslip and go home. I just paid 12 guys a day’s
pay each to hang out in the locker room.

I called the Yardley yardmaster.

The three CWs won’t be running, so you can just put the trains together
and out of the way.

I didn’t get anything on them having a train, so I thought they would just
be going with a caboose.

You didn’t have empties lined up to go on them?

No. I wish I did. I’m buried.

OK, I’ll see what I can do.

Now what? I looked at the power sheet. There were no Spokane Division
locals that could spare any power for the week. Between grades and
tonnage, they all needed their regular assignment of power.

I called the Parkwater roundhouse. I asked if he could resurrect two or
three extra units for the CW local out of the shop units, to stay on it
all week. There was a pause while he looked through what he had and what
they needed. He said that he could, at least two, maybe three.

OK, set it up.

It wouldn’t be pretty, but it would have to do. Hopefully the extra power
would allow the regular CW to get the line cleaned up in a week. If not,
there’s always another week to try again.

I called the trainmaster back.

The CW this week will have two extra units or maybe three. See if you can
figure out how to get caught up this week with just the regular CW and the
extra power…and let the yardmaster know what you want in the trains. There
is way more in the yard than the regular job will be able to handle in a
day or two.

OK, Thanks. I’ll do that.

I don’t remember if the CW was cleaned up in the next week. I think I had
already moved to the chief job on the Pacific or Portland Division before
the next weekend.

The attached image shows what a quick scratch work trainsheet for planning
would have looked like.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Sunday, November 26, 2017

US Construction Railroad-North Dam-Feeder Canal Location

Courtesy of the University of Idaho.

See what it looks like today.

In the 1947 photo, the feeder canal has not been dug out yet. To properly orient yourself between the two photos, the housing seen to the right of upper center, with the adjacent lobe of basalt are still in place above the canal today. A lot of the basalt seen in the older photo is just plain gone today, or under water.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Thursday, November 23, 2017

1948 Winston-Utah Spur

Photo courtesy of the University of Idaho.

The spur was created and named for the two contractors who were building the siphon seen in the right of the photo.

See this location today.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

2006 Discussion About The CW and P&L Branches

Not sure who to credit for this, as I just came across it all these years later. If you know, drop me a line and I'll update this to credit the author.

With all the discussion about CW and P&L branches lately, and with a public hearing looming Friday I thought a little history of Watco was in order. After being little more than an industrial switching company in the northwest for many years (Wallula, WA and East Helena, MT) Watco enters the northwest shortline picture big time on Nov. 20, 1992 with the purchase of several Union Pacific branch lines in Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho. These lines include Hooper Jct. WA to Winona to Thornton, WA, Winona to Colfax, Pullman, WA. and Moscow Idaho. And the Purchase/Lease of Wallula-Walla Walla-Dayton-Walair, WA lines and the Walla Walla to Weston, OR. line. Soon after arriving on the scene, the branch to Weston gets closed, and the branch to Dayton gets sold off to local county governments so that goverment funded track rehab. can take place. Later, the State of Oregon comes up with money to rehab and reopen the Weston Branch. Local governments in conjunction with Washington State Department of Transportation start the state grain train program, with Watco's carshop in the Port of Pasco getting the contract to do the work on the well used cars purchased by the state. Initially the state cars are only used from the Walla Walla area branches to Portland, later Watco develops a grain shuttle train to a river port elevator near Wallula off the UP main line. Watco brings in a small group of its own cars for use on the grain shuttle, and use of grain shuttle and state cars spreads to the lines out of Hooper. LINES OUT OF HOOPER--Watco starts up with some good press and even starts a excursion train for one summer (in partnership with a Portland tour operator), but eventually Watco begins to complain about the track conditions (track long neglected by UP) and they begin to have derailments. Watco gets the Port of Whitman County to purchase track maintaince machines in exchange for the "title" to its two Hooper area GP-35's (792, 799 ex-UP exx-WP). Later Watco is able to secure some track repair funds from the WSDOT and the Port of Whitman. Watco does construct a new siding near Hooper to service a gravel pit there and shuttle rock to Pullman for a local contractor. Watco brings in a small group of ex-NW hopper cars for the service---but cars leak badly and service eventually fails. Watco begins to worry about a "headcut" causing a bridge to fail near Pampa, WA and claims to have no money to fix the problem. After a couple of years of exchanges with the Port of Whitman County, the Port of Whitman County buys the bridge in order to gain funds to fix the problem--although there is no evidence anything has been done to stablize the situation. P&L BRANCH, CW BRANCH.--In the late Spring of 1996, Watco forms another railroad to buy the BNSF lines between Marshall, WA and Moscow, ID, (P&L BRANCH) the abandoned but in place Moscow to Arrow, Jct line, the Palouse, WA to Bovill, ID branch (ex-WI&M RY) and the Cheney to Coulee City, WA (CW Branch). Watco starts the operation with little fanfare and slips faded Xerox letters through the doors of customers that provide shippers with incorrect phone numbers for contacting the railroad. Power and employees are in short supply and service suffers. (Watco purchases additional motive power in the form of ex-CR GP-35's that are in poor condition and several have major problems throwing oil out the exhaust--units are parked in Cheney next to the ADM flour mill and a sizable portion of the white mill is turned black by the oil from the units exhause angering ADM to no end. Watco relocates the units to another location that results in the units leaking into a stream. A group of ex-CSX GP-30's arrive later in better shape.) With the Watco purchase of the P&L Branch shippers become hopeful of the reopening of the Moscow to Arrow JCT line in hopes of starting grain shuttle service to the ports in Lewiston,ID. Spring floods prior to the 1996 purchase damage the Moscow to Arrow line and Watco claims it too costly to reopen, later newspapers report that the line had already been sold by Watco to A&K Railroad materials to finance purchase of the BNSF lines. A&K quickly scraps the line for its heavy rail and refused to entertain any offers from others to buy it. Also damaged in the '96 flood was the trackage between Deary and Bovill, ID. (Watco quickly closes the line between Harvard and Deary after a derailment on it's second trip up there.) Another customer celebrates the sale of the BNSF lines to Watco---Bennett Lumber Company near Harvard, ID announces its eager to see the shortline as it wants to ship some of its lumber out by way of UP, resulting in the doubling of its shipments, Bennett's are disappointed to learn that the BNSF sale agreement will still block their access to UP. A clay mine is proposed near Bovill, but Watco allows A&K to scrap the line between Harvard and Bovill (in order to pay off a loan made to Watco by A&K), but tells the owners of the proposes clay mine that they would gladly rebuild the line should the mine get built. Watco and BNSF succeed in gaining traffic hauling farm machines to Colfax, but just as the machines arrive, Watco tears out the unloading ramp in Colfax and customer has to stack blocks to unload the machines, later Watco tells the customer to unload the machines in Palouse and truck them to Colfax, but the road between Palouse and Colfax is restricted both due to weight and clearances and customer opts to unload in Spokane. Just after the year 2000, Washington State University begins to plan to replace it's coal fired power plant in Pullman with a natural gas powered on. The WSDOT and area shippers become concerned that the loss of coal traffic (off the UP side of the operation) will tip the scales enough to result in the loss of rail service to the whole area and talks begin with Watco to have the WSDOT buy it's palouse area operations known by now as the Palouse River and Coulee City Railroad (Watco had merged its operations into on common company by then) Walla Walla area lines would not be covered by the sale. Sale takes place in 2004 and Watco gets an automatic 15 year RENT FREE lease on the lines. No other rail operators are permitted to bid for the operation. Coal traffic stops in 2005. Since 2000, Watco has removed all elevator and team tracks from service on its line between Colfax and Pullman. A salvage company eyes Albion as a reload location for scrap salvaged from the nearby Whitman County Landfill---weeks later Watco crews begin lifting sidings in Albion. Watco get $7.8 million for its Palouse River and Coulee City lines and as part of the deal---for unknown reasons--the WSDOT only wants a 20 foot right-of-way through the City of Pullman and Watco is allowed to sell the land yeilding another $1.5 million. WSDOT does not buy any of the railroad located in Idaho, and in Moscow during the summer of 2005 Watco sells off and scraps 99% of the ex-BNSF trackage in town and some UP trackage to allow University of Idaho to expand it's campus downtown. Some UP trackage is also removed turning Moscow into a switching nightmare with no runaround trackage. At least two shippers lose service in the move (contrary to STB filing by Watco)---Latah County Grain Growers and Columbia Tractor lose service. In 2005, WSDOT awards a feed mill located on the CW Branch a grant to build a large car unloading facility and the company expects to unload 26 car units of inbound feed, also in 2005, BNSF donates it's Geiger Spur to Spokane County and Spokane County begins the public hearings needed to connect the spur to Watco's CW branch between Medical Lake and Cheney in order to eliminate the portion of the spur passing through Fairchild AFB. In November of 2005, Watco imposes a $250 per car surcharge on all cars moving on its former BNSF lines. Watco claims the surcharge is needed to cover revenue lost by traffic being siphoned off by a grain train facility built by CO-AG near Ritzville. All remaining customers stop shipping on the CW Branch and Watco closes down the line in December 2005. But shippers on the P&L Branch tolerate the $250 surcharge and traffic into Moscow actually grows with inbound Lentil shipments. Bennett Lumber company near Harvard announces in too will increase traffic as well from 275 to 350 cars per year. Early January 2006 Watco raises surcharge to $870 per car, and remaining customers immediatly stop shipping. Watco employees are told that the P&L Branch will be shut down completely by May 2006 and employees will be terminated or relocated. Watco has imposed no surcharges on its former UP trackage in spite of the trackage being in much worse condition and prone to derailments. UP has also raised its grain rates so there has been a sharp decline in traffic in 2005, (as well as the impact of the Ritzville CO-AG elevator). Sources for this long winded summary. WATCO, WHITMAN COUNTY GAZETTE, WHITMAN COUNTY PUBLIC RECORDS, LEWISTON TRIBUNE, WALLA WALLA UNION BULLETIN, WSDOT, SPOKESMAN REVIEW, TRAFFIC WORLD, THE SHORT LINE, PUBLIC RECORDS--SURFACE TRANSPORTATION BOARD, JOURNAL OF COMMERCE, CAPITAL PRESS, DAYTON CHRONICLE, TRI-CITIES HERALD, LATAH COUNTY PUBLIC RECORDS, BENNETT AND ASSOCIATES--REAL ESTATE, CASE/IH, thanks to my Uncle Ben in Colfax, and my brother Joe in Walla Walla for helping out sending me info. when I'm not able to be there (Pasco)myself.

You'll note that when I got ripped apart a couple of weeks ago for making the same (undocumented) claims, the guys didn't use their names. HERE IT IS WITH SOURCES. Good job, Ted.

I wrote the following this morning, but was waiting until later to post. I guess I'll paste it in now. It's not an anti-WATCO piece since I don't have to do that one again.

The previous CW thread is starting to get too far down the page and I’m too lazy to scroll down, so I’ll start another one here.

As far as I know, WATCO is still running its own grain shuttle down to Wallula using the UP Hooper connection out of the Colfax-based operation. If they are serious about keeping the business that they have or have lost (as long as we are discussing pipedream new lines to bypass the brutal BNSF), there’s another option that might be open to WSDOT: Remove the 10 miles of very good track between Marshall and Spangle and re-connect Thornton (current end of the branch and grain shuttle operation) with Oakesdale (site of some of the north end’s most stable shippers) using the abandoned UP roadbed. That section was severed in about 1990 and is only 7 miles long. I’d then tear out Oakesdale-Palouse (I’m not aware of any current shippers in that section). I’m making the assumption that the big elevator at Fallon probably trucks its grain down to Lewiston these days—they were the only shipper between Palouse and Pullman. How many “active” shippers are there anymore at Palouse proper? Is Bennett on the W.I.M. the ONLY active shipper on the south end? Remember that the viability of the P&L line had a lot to do with the amount of traffic off of the St. Maries River’s south connection at Bovill and that that traffic was cut off by the flood damage to the east end of the W.I.M. At the time, the UP was looking at their Plummer line (the STMA north connection) and seeing the end of traffic out of Wallace and 2 trains a week from STMA/Plummer of about 20 cars each. They are now making 3 trips a week averaging a good 30 cars each. Many of these are now interchanged to the BNSF at Spokane. The P&L became a long, dead-end branch—which is why they spun it off.

On the CW line, the problem is that its location makes it the “read-headed stepchild”. The current line could be replaced with a 15-mile relay between Coulee City and the ex-GN mainline at Adrian—which could let the 40 miles between Almira and Davenport (or 50+ if you extend the removal to Reardan come out). The problem is that the BNSF doesn’t want to lug loaded grain trains WB over Stevens Pass, so the cars have to get hauled back towards Spokane anyway, but it does make sense to remove 35 miles of un-needed total trackage. If the BNSF doesn’t want to take the cars down into Spokane and back up to Cheney, put in a connection at the Deep Creek flyover and have the trains use that part of the CW line to Cheney. The first 5 miles of the CW line out to Five Lakes is going to remain in place anyway (even if the entire rest of the line is abandoned) once it becomes the new connection for the Geiger Spur. Fact: There is an on-hold plan to build a shuttle loop on the BNSF mainline somewhere south of Coulee City, so that issue will be solved anyway unless WSDOT decides to spare the highway by considering the 15-mile RR rebuild. I have first-hand knowledge of other long-since removed connections that WSDOT is considering funding, so none of this is outside of possible.

Traffic on the CW Branch dried up after Watco imposed a $250 per car surcharge on Nov. 17. Line is now closed due to lack of traffic, and a fan in Cheney told me that the crossing signals on the line have been taken out of service. Some traffic remains on the P&L Branch, but "due to the decline in business" Watco is upping the surcharge to $870 per car on Jan. 6. Most customers have cancelled their cars on order for after that date. Moscow/Pullman Daily News ran a story on the surcharges on 12/23/05 and how Bennett Lumber company is really mad and is going to lawmakers claiming Watco is trying to kill off the railroad. Watco claims that it has to raise rates to cover losses caused by raising rates. Go figure. (If an item doesn't sell at a retail store they discount it or run a sale. Watco's solution would be to raise prices till it sells given the logic they told the newspaper.) Sadly, I agree with Bennett Lumber, they are trying to kill the lines off. I would think Watco would want to sell the CW Branch to the state and have the state find a different operator rather than go to the expense of a possibly messy abandonment process.

I think that everybody would like to see the CBRW get everything that it can. That Moses Lake-Quincy plan is interesting but confusing--bewildering, I guess.

WSDOT is somewhat serious about "their" railroads. There is some investment interest in maintaining the Coulee City line by the Feds also due to that line being the only close RR access to Grand Coulee Dam when they need a turbine brought in. I have done track inspections and rehab reports for Chelan County P.U.D. on both of their dams (Rock Island and Rocky Reach) within the past few years. Rocky Reach's spur was fixed in 2002 and Rock Island is scheduled for 2006. In both cases, the spurs were unused for many years and in need of expensive rehabilitation to bring turbines in. Grand Coulee had a couple delivered a few years ago and will need more. They get offloaded at Wilbur and trucked the 20 miles to the dam. The State is also (financially) assisting in the construction of a new spur track for a growing fertilizer (and planning on feed grain) operation at Creston. The problem is that WATCO markets traffic for the line (or at least, they are SUPPOSED to).

The main problem on the Coulee City side is that, except for the first 10 miles or so, the rail is old 85# jointed stuff from the 50s.

Monday, November 20, 2017

The Seattle, Lake Shore & Eastern

From the book "The History of the Northern Pacific Railroad."

By Louis Tuck Renz.

SLSE was incorporated in 1885 by Seattle interests other than the NP. The main route was to be Seattle, Snoqualmie Falls, Cle Elum, Ellensburg, Rock Island Rapids and then Spokane. After the usual money difficulties on January 12th, 1887, a contract was made with the Puget Sound Construction Company for the first 40 miles to Squak. The price was $800,000 in bonds and $400,000 in stock. In early February, Seattle granted a right-of-way through the city and work began on February 25th. The Lake Shore acquired some very valuable waterfront rights in Seattle and on March 25th Kerns Bros. had the contract to clear and grade the first 5 miles from Smith’s Cove. Other contracts were let for the second 5 miles, for piling and trestle work at the Cove and for 5000 tons of rail, 4 locomotives and other equipment. By June the line had been located 75 miles to Snoqualmie Pass.
On September 9th the Seattle Press gave a glowing account of the road and its backers plus the Puget Sound Construction Co. A few miles were in iron at the time and 300 miles were predicted for January 1st, 1889. There was a statement that Seattle was hopeful that the Lake Shore would free it from the NP. The article concluded with the indication that Tacoma was non-plussed by this turn of events. All of this journalistic support could not overcome the problems associated with a change in control, a change in the construction company and money difficulties. It was not until July 16th, 1888, that the first regular train ran from Seattle the 24 miles to Woodinville.
In early December of 1887, the Seattle and Eastern Construction Co. was incorporated to build the road for the Lake Shore. Four New Yorkers, T. Burke, Angus McIntosh, F.M. Jones and W.H. Scott were behind the venture. Their new organization finished the 20 miles from Woodinville to Sallal Prairie in the Cascades and that was as far as the line ever went. They began the connecting work west from Spokane in early 1888. Forty miles were planned to be ready for the fall harvest. Twenty miles of grade were in by July but here again lack of funds only saw 10 miles of track by November. The next few months were more productive and the line was open 45 miles to Wheatdale in mid-March, 1889. Then money problems became acute, the town of Davenport offered to grade the 5 miles to reach there. This was accepted and completed so that in October the eastern section consisted of the 50.05 miles from Spokane to Davenport and that was as far as that line was to go.
The major segment of the Lake Shore was not in the original planning. As the possibility of a Cascade line became remote a line to Canada became more appealing. On March 24th, 1888, the Lake Shore purchased the Seattle and West Coast Ry. That company had 14.4 miles of graded roadbed from Woodinville north to Snohomish. F.H. Whitworth of Seattle started work on this northern branch and by the end of April an easy route was located all the way to the Canadian line. December saw 20 miles in operation on this branch.
Funds needed for the Canadian line would be large so the Lake Shore increased its stock to provide a bonus for bonds to be issued. In April, 1889, it was reported that $2,000,000 would be offered. The surveys had been run from Snohomish to the Skagit River in 1888 but the end-of-track remained 6 miles north of Snohomish for many months. In 1889 the surveys were completed to the Canadian line. Earle & MacLeod were the contractors for much of the work. They put the Lake Shore in and out of receivership in order to collect $87,000 for previous work. When $90,000 in bonds were posted all was well. During the year the first 15 miles south from the line were cleared and also the 15 miles south from the Skagit River. Clearing was very difficult due to the heavy timber. The maximum grade was held to 1.5% and there was much bridging for all the streams and rivers flowed west from the well-watered Cascade Range.
In Spokane during February, 1890, bondholders applied for a receiver and for an injunction to prevent giving the Seattle and Eastern Construction Co. any more securities. There were implications in the papers of the time that the NP was behind this suit. It was transferred to Seattle and denied in early March. In june reports began that the NP had control of the Lake Shore due to its valuable Seattle Harbor franchises. Thomas F. Oakes, a member of the NP board of directors, denied this but stated that the two companies were going to coordinate the construction of a Lake Washington Belt Line and in July the NP had the firm of Henry and Balch of Minneapolis working on the 20 mile section of the belt line east of the lake. The NP had been surveying here the previous February. In July the Oregon & Transcontinental, a holding company organized by Henry Villard in 1881, purchased a majority of the Lake Shore stock for $45 per share, $2,335,000 of the $4,150,000 outstanding. Oakes had to reverse himself stating on the 22nd that $3,000,000 of the stock had been purchased and the road leased for 6% on the bonds and a $300,000 rental. Traffic north of Seattle apparently was heavy enough to cover interest charges. At the time one major reason stated for this action was that James J. Hill of the GN wanted it.
To finish the construction story of this branch we find 500 to 700 men working at tree different sites during 1890. In May track was 30 miles north of Snohomish and on August 1st the San Francisco Bridge Co. completed the Stillaguamish bridge at Arlington, 61 miles from Seattle. This 240 foot drawbridge with its 4000 foot pile trestle approach had held up progress for a long time. Heavy rain and the lack of skilled labor had their part too. The longest uncompleted section was now the 21 miles from Arlington to Sedro including the Skagit River bridge at Sedro. This was a 650 foot combination drawbridge with a  4800 foot pile trestle on the north and a 2305 foot trestle on the south side. In December trains were running between Arlington and Sedro and the grading was finished to the boundary. April 10th, 1891, the road was open Seattle to Sumas which was one half mile south of the Canadian line. During June, 1891, Traffic Manager J.M. Hannaford assumed similar duties for the Lake Shore and on May 1st, 1892, operations were consolidated with those of the NP. On March 31st, 1893, a Lake Shore stockholder started a suit to have the NP lease annulled and a receiver appointed. A receiver, T.R. Brown, was appointed on July 7th, but the NP traffic contract was continued and the NP operations were continued. The Lake Shore came out of the receivership as two companies both operated by the NP.
The NP built a branch to compete with the eastern section of the Lake Shore. It was called the Central Washington. NP records indicate that between December 6th, 1887, and February 25th, 1888, surveys were made and a line located diverging from the main line at Cheney and extending westward through portions of Spokane, Lincoln, and Douglas counties across the middle crossing of the Grand Coulee, a distance of 115 miles. It was a very good line, under 1% grade, with light work except for some areas where the rock came to the surface. The area was rich and fertile second only to the Palouse. To forestall the Lake Shore line, the NP put G.W. Hunt to work here grading five miles through Grand Coulee in early summer 1888. This action along with the other Lake Shore problems was sufficient to allow later Central Washington construction. Aside from the Grand Coulee work Wilson & Glenn, the contractors, did little in 1888. During 1889 the road was completed the 46 miles to Almira and a contract for the additional 15 miles to Grand Coulee was let. By May 30th, 1890, grade and bridges were completed for the entire branch and by July 1st the track was in. When the NP acquired control of the Lake Shore in 1890 it had two branches into the Big Bend country and both could not be supported especially as the Great Northern was to be entering the region shortly. Despite this fact the eastern section of the Lake Shore was not abandoned until well after the turn of the century.
The annual meeting on October 16th 1890 it was announced that the Central Washington entered the Big Bend country of Washington and would be extended to the Okanagan mining area later.
At the annual meeting on October 20th, 1892 a stockholders committee was organized to investigate the affairs of the NP. In Washington critical note was taken of the relationship with the Lake Shore, the eastern section paralleled the Central Washington and was relatively useless. In the western section only the line from Seattle to the Canadian line was considered worthwhile. The NP had purchased 31,626 ½ shares of 41,500 outstanding at $45 each on May 23rd, 1890 and between July 1st, 1890 and June 30th, 1892 the line was run at a deficit of $584,300. To argue that the Lake Shore was needed to deter the Manitoba (St. Paul, Minneapolis, and Manitoba RR-forerunner of the GN) did not hold for it did not do so. The Lake Shore was purported to have started as a land speculation and then money speculators got the bonds at 80 and the stock as a bonus. The NP purchase included a bond guarantee and this would have been very beneficial to the speculators if all was true.
The Lake Shore had an operation loss as of June 30th, 1893 of $257,701. Before the NP entered its second reorganization of the mid 1890s, the Lake Shore had its lease terminated.
The Congressional Charter of the NP had many valuable rights and privileges contained in its franchises and the reorganization committee had applied to Congress to have the old NP charter applied to the new NP company which they planned to use in the first plan of reorganization. However, due in part to the strong opposition of the bondholders of the Lake Shore, Congress took no action. Another charter would have to be found for the new NP company.
The Lake Shore was leading a separate existence during the NP receivership. Its lease had had been given up shortly before the NP receivership and it had gone the bankruptcy road too. There had been continuing litigation between the NP and the Lake Shore as to who was indebted to whom and the NP was trying to prevent a foreclosure. However, on March 31st, 1896, Judge Hannaford ordered foreclosure sale on May 16th and the bondholders agreed to this on April 10th. The Lake Shore was thus sold to its reorganization committee on May 22nd for $1,000,000 and the sale was confirmed on June 9th although Circuit Court approval was delayed until February, 1897. The road began anew with the profitable western section as one railroad and the useless eastern section as another although they both had the same officers. On July 11th the old bondholders of the Lake Shore began a general creditors suit in Milwaukee to forestall the NP sale as they claimed that the general creditors had been left out of the reorganization. The case was argued on July 21st and denied on the 22nd. Likewise the reorganization committee for the Lake Shore stated on July 24th that there was no NP lien as it came after the first mortgage and the road had been sold under that mortgage and thus the NP lien was against a defunct road. It was several years before these two independent roads came back into the NP fold.
The NP had been behind the long delay between the sale of the Lake Shore in May, 1896, and its final court confirmation in February, 1897. This was because the NP owned $3,162,650 of stock and $1,258,691 of bonds in the company and the sale price was only $1,000,000. After the confirmation of the sale the western section of the Lake Shore, which was the part of value, passed to a company called the Seattle and International on July 10th. This company had been formed earlier in the summer for just this purpose. During January, 1898, the NP bought $5,558,000 of the bonds of the S&I and displaced the reorganization management. Not only did the NP want to keep this line out of any rival hands, the Canadian Pacific was rumored to be bidding on it, but also one of the Lake Shore reorganization groups was trying to assert a large claim against the old NP RR. This purchase stopped this action. At this time the line consisted of the 125.3 miles from Seattle to Sumas, the 38.6 mile branch into the Cascades from Woodinville to Sallal and valuable terminal properties in Seattle. The GN began using the Seattle train station on March 20th, 1896. The Klondike Gold Rush was providing much business at this time and May 20th the NP traffic department absorbed that of the S&I.
In February, 1900, the NP bought, using the S&I, the western section of the Everett, the western section of the Everett & Monte Cristo, from Snohomish to Everett, 11.5 miles and terminals. The property was leased until the title was cleared. In April, 1900, again using the S&I, surveys began between Arlington, on the Sumas line, and Darrington up the Stillaguamish Valley in the Cascades. This was through very fine timber country. Right-of-way was secured in June and the contract was let in July to Larson & Greenough. The last rail was in by the end of May, 1901. Meanwhile, on March 21st, 1901, the NP purchased the S&I outright and these two newer sections came with it.
The eastern section of the Lake Shore was also acquired on July 10th, 1896 by a new company called the Spokane and Seattle. Its officers were the same as those of the S&I. The 50 mile line from Spokane to Davenport was alswys operated by the NP. It closely paralleled the Washington Central, successor company to the Central Washington. This latter company had been sold at Spokane January 19th, 1898, and bid in by the bondholders for $100,000. The NP acquired all of the capital stock and leased it in March. In March a year later the NP purchased the Medical Lake-Davenport section of the S&S, and in October, 1900, the Spokane-Medical Lake section. Along with the purchase went the abandonment of the 29 miles from Spokane to Ditmar which was the section paralleling the Washington Central. No better example of railroad over-expansion and disregard of sound business principles can be found than that shown with the Central Washington and the eastern section of the Lake Shore. The Washington Central was later extended to serve much of the Great Bend region of Eastern Washington and became a very fruitful branch.
In August, 1902, the NP decided to extend the Washington Central to connect with the GN main line west and thus possibly give another quicker line to Puget Sound. In May of 1903 Larson & Foley of Spokane started track laying from Coulee Jct. and the 21 miles to Adrian on the GN were ready September 11th. Five years passed and in July, 1908, a line from Adrian to Connell, on the NP main line north of Pasco, was considered as a joint venture by the NP-SP&S-GN. There was no action so in June, 1909, the NP incorporated the Connell Northern and by November 1st, 1910 the 73.5 mile line Connell to Adco had completed the big loop through the Big Bend of the Columbia. This was to be a very valuable feeder to the NP in later years after the completion of Grand Coulee Dam and the Columbia Basin Project.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Connolly Spur

From a 1948 NP Idaho Division Timetable.

Thanks to Ted Curphey for coming across this link for information about the spur being named for the Bacon Siphon contractor, T.E. Conolly, Inc.

This location is about 3 miles due south of Coulee City.

See this location today here.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Dry Coulee Difference Of Decades

1978 view is a Dorothy Kimball photo, courtesy of Mike and Penny Kimball.

Bridge #118 location. Dorothy was likely getting the picture to paint a version of the scene later.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

1984 Burlington Northern CW Branch Lineup

Courtesy of the Lincoln County Museum.

Thanks to Fred Simon for bringing this to my attention.

This is the 3,000th posting on this website.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Alan Eisenberg Email Exchange

Back in late 2005/early 2006 I had an email exchange with the late Alan Eisenberg. This was before I started this website by about a year and I was realizing I had a lot of information, but lacked so much more. I reached out to Ike and asked him some questions, which I did not save. All I have are his responses.
I did provide him some information for the track charts he was working on, which documented every single piece of track the BNSF ever operated, even via long-gone predecessors. He managed to come out with a 10th version of his track charts before his passing.

To: Dan
Subject: Re: BNSF track chart 9
From: Alan

Hi Dan,

Thanks for the typo, it isn't the only found, as I found some more
myself.  When you deal with that much information, it is hard not to make
some errors, minor or otherwise.  That's why I have a couple of
proofreaders, but even then, something is bound to slip by.

"The Orphan Road by Kurt E. Armbruster, Wash State U Press, isbn
0-87422-1854.   Much of it is about other Seattle lines, but it covers
the line of interest, which
started as the  Seattle, Lake Shore and Eastern." 

is the only book on SLS&E that I know of.  It was a "disconnected" road,
as it had an Eastern & Western Division which never met (but was probably
planned).  As for the rest of the segment you asked, I depended on the
Encyclopedia of Western Railroad History, Volume III, Oregon-Washington,
which covers the SLS&E.  Some of the line could have been "graded" or
taken over by another road before completion, or even taken over by NP
before any more rails were laid.

When I researched the MILW segments, MILW in 1919 had over 500 "roads"
that comprised the MILW.  Some of these roads were incorporated and sold
before one foot was graded or a rail laid.   These "paper" roads were
granted a franchise or something, to be sold later.

A good example was SP&S's A-Line, which James Hill of the GN bought up
the Astoria & Columbia River and later sold it to SP&S.  Because Hill was
involved, when Pacific Railroad & Navigation was incorporated by SP, they
built a roundabout way to Tillamook from Hillsboro, mainly to prevent
Hill interests building down the coast.   That's why the present
Tillamook line is so long to Tillamook rather than a more direct route.
Little "digs" like that so that someone else could have a monopoly of

If you pick up any volume of the Encyclopedia of Western Railroad
History, you will see some of these roads that change hands once, twice,
three, and four times before being incorporated into the present system.
 If you look at Appendix 6 of Version 9, you will see not only the
predecessor railroads, but the successors (BN/BNSF spinoffs) of this vast
system.  I put Roger Taylor's Frisco research after that in the Appendix,
because not all the Frisco predecessors became part of BN when Frisco was
merged.   A lot of lines were abandoned prior to the BN-SLSF merger, but
Roger's 25 years of research shouldn't have gone unnoticed.   So,
Appendix 6 has a bit of duplication of the ones that made it to BNSF and
Roger's Frisco which had some roads that didn't. 

Unless one lived in the area when the line was built, graded, or rail put
down, doing research of a vast system like BNSF that started in the
1850's in places, it is difficult.   Even the Encyclopedia of Western
Railroad History conflicts with some of the research found in other
sources, but Robertson basically researched State Incorporation records
in regards to rail, be it Class I, Interurban, logging, etc.  A good
example is the CB&Q and their predecessors, which his list conflicts with
others, like the Overton books, and another specific book on Iowa.
Overton spent his life researching CB&Q, C&S, and FW&D, and he is a
history professor (or was). 

So, in sum, what might have been, may never had gotten off the ground. 
NP's Yacolt Branch was to connect with the White Swan branch, over Mt.
St. Helens at one time.  That is how BN donated that land after the
eruption.  No rail was laid by NP past White Swan or Yacolt (not counting
Longview, Portland, & Northern's Chelatchie Priairie extension).  But,
they bought or were granted the land, in case, even lying dormant. 
Another good example was the now (or former) SP Line from Yaquina (cut
back to Toledo) to Idahana (cut back to Mill City).   The guy that
incorporated original was going across Santiam Pass to meet with UP's
line to Burns.   Never made it, but to keep the franchise "alive" before
selling to SP, he had a wagon on rails on the pass, with mules pulling
the wagon, disconnected by several miles from Idahana (now under Detroit
Lake).  There is a plaque on the Pass commenmorating his efforts.

Like I said in my post, research can be intereesting.


To: Dan
Subject: Re: BNSF track chart 9 again
From: Alan

In Regards to the Royal Slope Branch, the information I got was from
another user, as well as the Port of Beverly which owns the line, and the
STB reading rooms.   The track may be there still, but the line hasn't
been operated before 1999, the "official" date of being placed on the
abandoned list. 

I went up there in the early 1990's and the track was in really poor
shape.  Hard to think when looking at the track from Othello to Royal
City Jct., that it was ever a main line.   The Port of Beverly's
Development never "boomed" like they thought.  That's why BN gave it up
to someone else.   It is probably dormant, just like the ex-GN line
fromWayzata to Hutchison, which is "abandoned in place" pending whatever
they will eventually do with it.  3 Counties bought the Wayzata line and
one by one, pulled out, but the track is still there for a future "rapid
transit" system, someday, maybe.  TS&W was the last "operator" of record,
but no one seems to want to operate it and to where?  Any shippers left?
Were there any shippers in the first place when MILW built the line in
the 1960's?  Or was this just another dream of something for a
economically depressed area to bring in companies that failed?

Someone, I forget who, stated TS&W never operated one train on the line,
just had the rights, but I don't know how true that is.


To: Dan
Subject: Re: BNSF track chart 9
From: Alan

RE:  Spokane, Lake Shore, & Eastern

According to the Encyclopedia of Western Railroad History, they built out
of Spokane Falls-Wheatdale in 1888 and Wheatdale to Davenport in 1889 via
Marshall, Four Lakes, Medical Lakes, Wheatdale,  & Davenport.  It
mentions nothing about an interurban line grade it took over.  It looks
like, from the map, it went south from Spokane before turning north and

If you give me the actual name of the Interurban Company, I can look that
up.  I know about the old GN Interurban Lines, like Spokane Falls &
Northern, going north, and the Spokane, Coeur d'Alene, & Palouse going


To: Dan
Subject: Re: BNSF track chart 9
From: Alan

Hi Dan,

Judging by the timetable, it appears it was a different route.  The clue
is Medical Lake-NP Depot, which logically would be that the NP was
already there.  Interesting to say the least. 

According to Railroad Names by Edson, Washington Water Power Company was
in existence from 1905 until abandonment in 1922 (under the electric
names section).  So, I would think it was different than NP completely.
If it had become part of NP (or another rr), it would state that or
"converted to a steam line", meaning electric operations ceased.

Looking at my trusty De Lorme Washington Atlas, it appears, from the
station names, that part of the old WA Power right of way is a road of
some sorts (p.88, look at Medical Lake and go east to Hayford Rd. )  Not
surprising, because a lot of old electric right-of ways became part of a
new road.  Example, in Portland, I-5 from Jefferson St. to Multnomah was
built on the old Oregon Electric line, and Barbur Blvd from 4th Ave to
Bertha was also on the old SP's Portland-Eugene-Eastern right of way as
well as Bertha Blvd itself.

Same in the Seattle area.   I-5 North out of downtown was on the old
Seattle-Everett right-of-way in places.

Now you have something to explore, if you live near Medical Lake-Spokane


Sunday, November 12, 2017