Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Considerable Moral Advantage

Courtesy of the NP Telltale.

Edwin Harrison McHenry, Chief Engineer, St. Paul, to Charles S.
Bihler, Division Engineer, Tacoma, June 26, 1898

University of Montana, K. Ross Toole Archives, Collection 178, Box
76, Folder 6 [Appears to be MHS Chief Engineer's 399]

I desire to have a survey made from the mouth of Foster Creek, on
the Columbia River, to the south end of Lake Chelan. The survey
should be begun at Lake Chelan, as we fear an attempt at prior
occupation, and our first line will give us at least a considerable
moral advantage. The initial point should be located with reference
to the occupation of the most eligible portions of water front at
the south end of the lake. It is my understanding that the barrier
at the south end of the lake consists of a glacial moraine, and it
is probable that the distance between the sides of the valley is not
great. The drop to the Columbia River is considerable, amounting up
to 300 feet, and the line will doubtless have to be supported along
the bluff easterly until it reaches the bottom. If the work proves
very heavy and costly, a higher grade will be adopted than
otherwise. The line should follow the north bank, passing the outlet
of the Methow River, to the outlet of the Okanogan. Other things
being equal. It is preferable to avoid a crossing of the Okanogan
River, but crossing the Columbia, if the site is favorable,
otherwise the Okanogan crossing will have to be accepted, and a
crossing of the Columbia made further east. Until further orders, we
will not run lines up the Okanogan and Methow valleys, but the
engineer should make a reconnaissance up both streams, and gain any
additional information regarding the general characteristics of the
valleys. Unless otherwise ordered, the line between the mouth of
Foster Creek and Coulee City need not be re-run, but it should be
carefully examined, and the estimates revised. If is my recollection
that a 1.5 percent grade was used in making this descent. It is
capable of great improvement at one particular point, where the
southerly pass, used in the Central Washington location, should be
abandoned in favor of a somewhat higher pass to the north, through
which the old [Seattle, Lake Shore and Eastern] was located, as
considerable distance will thereby be saved.
The engineer should be instructed to make a thoroughly comprehensive
report, in addition to the usual maps and profiles, should give a
preliminary estimate of the cost, describe the salient features,
including possibilities and classification of alternative routes. In
looking up a convenient point for a bridge crossing, he should not
omit to consider the temporary expedient of a transfer, as it
possible that our steamer Billings would be available for this
purpose. It is also possible the operation north of the river would
of some time, be kept separate, and a boat transfer made,
As soon as Mr. Dixon has completed his survey to LaCrosse, he can be
detailed to this work. Have the LaCrosse survey expedited as much as
possible and do not neglect to instruct the engineer to omit the
proposed branch line to Colfax.

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