Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Sunday, December 29, 2019

1947 Grand Coulee Industrial Area View

Courtesy of the Coulee Pioneer Museum.

The long gray building is the Assembly Building, which used trusses made from a former Great Northern bridge. This building is still standing today.

1949 view.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Saturday, December 14, 2019

350 Ton Grand Coulee Crane

Courtesy of the Coulee Pioneer Museum.

May 26, 1948

Section of new 350 ton crane arrives by flatcar at Grand Coulee Dam. To be installed at East Powerhouse.

Talk Of Relocating Coulee Dam Highway

From the "Spokane Chronicle."

July 7, 1934

Friday, December 13, 2019

Thursday, December 12, 2019

1947 Grand Coulee Dam Load View

Courtesy of the Coulee Pioneer Museum.

June 17, 1947

The L-& spider mounted upon timbers on rollers on the trailer is drawn along side the railroad flat car, preparatory to sliding the spider from the trailer to the flatcar. A little blocking under the trailer matches the elevations of the rollers and jacks under the flat car prevent tipping of the car at stages during the transfer.

Cement Handling At Grand Coulee Dam

Article I wrote for Them Dam Writers.

Images courtesy of the Coulee Pioneer Museum.

Cement Handling at Grand Coulee Dam

While many people know that a lot of cement was used in the construction of Grand Coulee Dam, what is not known is how it was handled. 


Unlike bulk loading today, which uses hopper-bottom vehicles to allow the cement to pour from the bottom, such technology was not common in the 1930s. Therefore, all of the cement was loaded into boxcars. Those boxcars had a solid flat floor, and the only way to load and unload was the door in the middle of each side of the car.

Fortunately, with a project the size of Grand Coulee Dam, a technology had already been perfected in unloading bulk cement from boxcars, and had been proven in use during construction of Hoover Dam: the Fuller-Kinyon screw pump.

This screw pump was first envisioned by Alonzo Kinyon of the Fuller-Lehigh company and built in 1918 as a safe way to handle pulverized fuels. Kinyon discovered that dry pulverized materials assume a flowing, liquid-like consistency when properly mixed with air. In this fluidized condition, pulverized materials can move through a pipeline as a relatively dense column and at low velocity. He was looking for a better way to move pulverized coal, which was used as a fuel in boiler furnaces. Companies had used large fans to blow the dust through ducts, which created an explosion risk. Open conveyor belts were no better, since the dust they gave off could also spark an explosion. Area cement producers who were familiar with his product were quick to adopt his technology as a very practical means for easily moving the powdered cement. He was awarded a patent in 1925 for the pump.

Cement for Grand Coulee Dam was obtained from five cement mills located within the State of Washington. It was transported in bulk via boxcars which held about 266 barrels of cement, with one barrel equaling 300 lbs of cement. Boxcars were pulled up an incline to the unloading area. Unloading from there was accomplished by four Fuller-Kinyon pumps, each of which resembled a large vacuum. A horizontal, rotating disk, running close to the floor of the car, caused the cement to flow into the open end of a small chamber containing a motor-driven screw, which forced the cement into a five-inch pipe. Near the junction of the screw casing and the delivery pipe, compressed air was admitted. The cement was then forced through hose and piping into the silos. While earlier pumps were controlled by levers, later pumps at the dam were operated by a wand with mercury-filled switches in it. The operator could control the operation of all five of the motors on the pump, moving it in any direction or changing the rate of feed by a mere tilt of the hand.

Two men were used to unload each car. One handled the controls of the pump and the other helped to clean up the car as the machine moved along.

Each pump could operate at 600 barrels, or 180,000 lbs per hour, and the record for unloading was set on November 1, 1939 when one pump emptied 130 boxcars of cement in one day, or a little over 10 million pounds.

Storage of the cement was in eight 5,000-barrel steel silos along the tracks, which equaled about 12 million pounds of cement. In addition to the silos were two 5,000-barrel silos for storing the blended product from the mills.

From the silos, screw conveyors brought the material into the two 5,000-barrel blending silos in the proper ratio. Underneath those silos were two compression chambers, each with a capacity of 50 barrels or 15,000 lbs of cement. Compressed air was used to blow the cement from the chambers via an 11-inch pipeline to the mixing plants. The pipe line running to the west side mixing plant was 2,000 feet in length, while the line to the east side was 6,000 feet long. There the cement was mixed into concrete and placed as needed throughout the dam site.

Movement of the empty boxcars was accomplished by gravity. The brakes were released and the empty cars were rolled down the inclined track, past an automatic track switch, and up to the end of a steep grade. From there, they again rolled back and onto the main track, where they were moved away by a locomotive, to be returned to the cement mills for refilling.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

The Never Built Northern Pacific Grand Coulee Branch

Article I wrote for Them Dam Writers.

On November 3, 1933, the Northern Pacific filed an application with the Interstate Commerce Commission for the legal authority to build the 28 1/2 miles of railroad to the Grand Coulee Dam site.

Charles Donnelly, president of the Northern Pacific, made this announcement in a telegram sent to the Slokane “Chronicle” in which he said:
“It is expected the Great Northern will share in the cost of construction and use of the new line, and negotiations in that direction now are under way.”

The new line would be built from Odair, a station near Coulee City on the Washington Central branch of the NP, up the floor of the Grand Coulee to the dam site. The GN will connect with the line via the Washington Central from Adrian to Odair.

The new line is estimated to cost $750,000.

While Mr. Donnelly’s telegram did not state when work would be started building the new line, it is believed men will be put on the job sometime in December to rush completion of the extension by the following spring.

About 300 to 350 men will be given work building the line, local railroad officials have estimated.

Ultimately the NP did not build the line, as it was holding out for a deal with the government for exclusive rights to haul every last item into the dam via rail. The government balked at this deal and put out construction of the line to bid, won by David H. Ryan. The NP was to still furnish rails and fasteners to complete the line, which would be returned when the line was removed at the end of construction.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Bulldozer Joyride?

Article I wrote for Them Dam Writers.

Back around the 1940s, around the time Grand Coulee Dam was built, power lines were strung from Midway Substation, near Hanford, to the dam. The construction crew was working from Midway towards the dam. What they found ahead of them was the impressive height of the Saddle Mountains.
While the spot they needed to traverse was not one of the many sheer cliffs, the slope of the soil was still amazingly steep and several hundred feet high.
And they needed to get down to the bottom.
With a large bulldozer.
At this location, near the middle of the Saddles, getting down to the bottom would mean backtracking to the south a bit and then heading multiple miles either east towards Othello and coming around the end of the mountains or west towards the Columbia River and rounding the gap in the mountains threaded by river and coming around near Beverly. This would add several days to the project.
One bulldozer operator, who likely had more guts than anyone else in the crew, had an idea. He would take the machine straight down the slope.
He fired it up, moved over to the edge, placed the blade firmly into the mountain, and carefully drew himself onto the slope. It was not a straight-down story, as the scar in the hillside shows. At one point the descent veers a bit to the west, as a ravine was approaching with an even steeper slope. After making the turn, he kept the blade down and bulldozed all the way to the bottom, saving days of delays.

1950 scar
This photo, also courtesy of Dave Morgan, was taken around 1950, when the scar was still widely visible.

2009 scar
In this 2009 view courtesy of Mark Danielson, the scar is still faintly visible.

Monday, December 9, 2019

Sunday, December 8, 2019

1947 Coulee City View

Courtesy of the Coulee Pioneer Museum.

July 27, 1947 view of the South Dam of the Equalization Reservoir under construction at Coulee City. Seen in the distance are boxcars on the now abandoned railroad line that crosses Road 36 NE/Airport Road.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

1942 Great Northern Marcus Bridge Removal Views

Courtesy of the Coulee Pioneer Museum.

June 1942

Images show sections of the bridge being barged down to the site of Grand Coulee dam to be reclaimed for the wood and steel for building projects at the dam site.