Friday, July 10, 2020

"Per Aspera Ad Astra!"

Guest post by Frederick Manfred Simon.

"Through adversity to the stars."

Thursday, July 9, 2020

"Hartline Hiatus”

Guest post by Frederick Manfred Simon.

April 9, 2017

The Eastern Washington Gateway Railroad crew has just completed its run west with a pair of SD45’s and an SD40T-2: spotting its empty scoot cars along the way. The last few here at Hartline. They’ll tie down the power up the line near Hanson, but not before performing pre-tie down procedures under the “city” lights leaving a minute or two to capture this timeless scene along Main/Chelan Street. The shrub-hidden typical modest homestead is vacant. Its former residents either moved on or simply passed away. Who knows? Have for some time as evidenced by the unkempt bushes; unlatched gate that paths to where the screen door bearly hangs from a single-screwed hinge slapping – like a spaghetti western sound effect – against the faded siding as the chimney crumbles, brick-by-brick onto the dilapidated roof. The mess of thirsty tumbleweeds has aimlessly ridden in on the wind from the endless scablands. Behind me, the leaning realtor's “For Sale” sign sways back and forth in the breeze: has for many months and most likely will for many more as towns like Hartline that dot the Evergreen State’s wheat country – once hustling and bustling microcosms – steadily decline. Nevertheless, these tiny communities are the collection point for the vast amounts of Eastern Washington grain (over 157 million bushels in 2016). Their elevators dominate the skyline like rural skyscrapers. And, as has been for over a hundred years, the symbiotic relationship between railroads and grain-producing communities will continue unabated as railroads remain the most efficient for of ground transportation man has ever invented. 

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

“Lights, Camera, Amtrak!”

Guest post by Frederick Manfred Simon.

 April 9, 2017

Intel confirmed. Signals lit. Train imminent. Anticipation. I scope out the area. It’s cold enough that I’ve got to don another jacket from my grip. I plant my pod and frame. A couple of test shots; some calculations; corresponding adjustments: I’m ready. Won’t be long now. No sound, just the banter between us aficionados and the distant, distinct, all-to-familiar note. Not much around. Neith moonlit, near-clear skies of constellations twinkling are a few, mostly dark houses; abandoned Bates-like motel; shuttered “Dealers in Mercantile;” closed brick schoolhouse; foundation of a long raised speeder shed; crossing gates for Manila Road that leads to nowhere but rusty elevators and dusty fields, but Espanola, home to a handful of diehard residents, has never lost its strategic railroad importance. Thousands of miles away in the Lone Star State, BNSF dispatchers rely on it to orchestra meets for its plenty long siding for longer and longer and of late, more frequent freights. But this is no freight we’re here to record. It’s the eastbound Seattle section of the Builder now blowing for the road to nowhere and “through” this nondescript “place,” streaking silver, red, blue and gold across our frame as it slips its sleepy and slumbering passengers past our prone and poised cameras in less than seconds leaving this indelible photographic mark four minutes into the morning. Quickly we compare our results: “Nice! Cool! Sweet!” Disassemble and vacate. The townsfolk? None the wiser to our momentary presence and fortuitous intent: to catch the Empire Builder track-speeding at Espanola. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

“A Bridge Too Far”

Guest post by Frederick Manfred Simon.

March 25, 2017

The annals of Milwaukee Road history are voluminous, even hyperbolic on its rise, heyday and eventual demise, and even today, a hundred-years-on, the mystique of The Milwaukee still lives. Just outside of Lind, Washington one can still “see” standing, like a stoic wraith, the iconic concrete abutments of the 833’ deckless span, and there, pay homage to the great, gone-but-not-forgotten, latent westward comer. By the 80’s, its vicissitudes too many and too heavy to carry, the Road, in a desperate fit of self-preservation, amputated its atrophying Pacific limb to no avail eventually and quite imminently dying a mutilated and agonizing septuagenarian death. On this homage with my son Alexander, two BNSF trains meet “under” what is left a bridge too far: one of many along the once proud Route of the Hiawatha and Olympian. 

Monday, July 6, 2020

“All Night Train”

Guest post by Frederick Manfred Simon.

April 6, 2017

Working through the night, here, in the smallest moments of midnight, droplets of a warming spring rain bless the new day as a grain-laden Eastern Washington Gateway Railroad eastbound necessarily, but ever so momentarily disturbes the peace as Engineer Bruce Butler nimbly rumbles his train through Creston, Washington where some 200 sleeping souls reside, giving notice of the train’s arrival and just as quickly, its departure at each of the don’t-blink-or-you’ll-miss-it town’s six proximate grade crossings though there isn’t a living soul waiting to cross any of them save his conductor whose constant vigilance ensures the train moves over mile-upon-mile of right-of-way safely and efficiently conducting repeated trackside inspections as the train moves from town-to-town while spotting empties at or picking up loaded covered hoppers from under the myriad grain spouts along the line whether rainy morning, mid summer’s day heat, or dead of night. Such is the business of a railroader: foregoing, even sacrificing any normalcy to his private life. 

Sunday, July 5, 2020

“Just one more night and I’m comin’ off this long and winding road . . . I’m on my way.”

Guest post by Frederick Manfred Simon.

March 7, 2017

Track-speeding - just about to knock down milepost 98 - butted Eastern Washington Gateway 45’s and nineteen empties will drop down some 300 feet into cul-de-sac Coulee City in less than ten miles and thirty mikes at the deft hand of Engineer Ted Curphey as he skirts his train along the parallel-straight to the CW right-of-way belying its otherwise mostly-meandering-blacktop US Highway 2 just west of just waking Hartline as the day tantalizingly lifts her exquisite rosetta-négligée to bare her life-giving matrix to man, mammal, and melanchthon alike. Curphey and his conductor, having worked near 12 hours through the opaque darkness delivering cuts of cars - some here; more there - imposing their shattering grade-crossing-staccato, steel-wheel-screeching coupler-slack-clamour, and crisp comms-crackle on slumbering towns along the way, will spot what’s left of what was a 60 some-car-train down in Coulee under myriad seed-spouts then be on their way, comin’ off this long and winding road, dead-heading home for some much-needed rest in two-hours-time. 

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Milwaukee Sugar Beet Hopper At Othello

Courtesy of Dave Morgan.

Dave says:

"I took several slides in Othello at the same time as the depot picture I just posted. Here is one, lettered for sugar beets, but with mechanical issues. Looks like it has been around the block too many times."

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Milwaukee 265 At Othello

Courtesy of Dave Morgan.

Dave says:

"GP38-2, here sitting in front of the round house in Othello. I just converted this from an old color negative, a learning experience on how to do it. Date unknown. MILW 365."

Ron Brandt added: The fuel tender to the left was filled with #2 diesel fuel. It came full from Tacoma and unloaded into the two tall storage tanks.
Ryan Reed added:  I'd expect this to be taken in late '74 or '75. During that short time, the three "new" GP38-2's out here (361, 362, 365) were spread out. One assigned to Tacoma area, one to Othello, and one to St. Maries. By 1976, all three were assigned to the Elk River Branch out of St. Maries, only coming back to Tacoma for maintenance.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Coulee City Roundhouse Fire Victim

From the Spokane "Chronicle."

July 1, 1898

The piece reappeared in the July 1, 1958 version of the same paper: