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


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