Sunday, May 24, 2020

Friday, May 22, 2020

Othello Day Switcher View

Courtesy of Dave Morgan. L.C. Bellows photo.

May 1958

Ryan Reed added: We're looking at the Day Switcher working shorts in the west yard. There wasn't a switcher or geep assigned to the Day or Night Switcher, they'd just grab whatever unit was available. In this case, a mainline geep MILW 2417 (l think). Many other times they'd use one of the SD7's assigned to the Mosey.

Dave added:  The box cab in the photo is sitting where it would normally be when not in use at Othello.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Home Sweet Depot

From the Wenatchee "World."

Courtesy of Darrin Nelson.

April 9, 1975

Saturday, May 16, 2020

“Delta Dawn”

Guest post by Frederick Manfred Simon.

March 7, 2017

Dawn begins to break into a new day as the sun pushes the darkness ahead of herself pressing the ever-shifting layers of Jovian-seeming clouds like curtains of the night aside finding the searching deltoid beam of a westing Eastern Washington Gateway empty glinting off the railhead on the more than 125-year-old right-of-way. Having dipped down from the gradually flattening 1.20% grade at Hanson five miles yonder with two units and an abbreviated file of PS2’s and ACF’s it now bears down on the barely-stirring 150-soul hamlet eponymous of early settler John Hartline (German, Anglo-Saxon for strong or bold). And though the crew has no work here today, Engineer Ted Curphey will signal their “just-passing-through” as he chimes the iconic Nathan-crisp two longs, one short, one long twice: once at Range Street just a stones through from the Assembly of God Chruch where the “light” is, still, always on and shortly thereafter at Main-Chelan Street where between, butted-tightly along the tracks, stand the sky-scrapping elevators of grain. 

Friday, May 15, 2020

"Close Encounters" (Of The Fourth Kind)

Guest post by Frederick Manfred Simon.

February 26, 2017 

An eastbound EWG grain train rises up out of Webb Canyon near Creston Washington like the alien ship from the iconic Steven Spielberg sci-fi "Close Encounters of the Third Kind." 

Thursday, May 14, 2020

“Ex Oriente Lux : Govan Crepusculum”

Guest post by Frederick Manfred Simon.

March 3, 2017
Heaven’s peaceful eye, rising, faithfully, effortlessly, paints her ephemeral pastel chef d’oeuvre as wispy clouds float across its crepuscular creation on a stiff morning breeze. At Fahrenheit 32 - on the cusp of stasis - opaline snow, slowly, still, steadily recedes to reveal the forlorn landscape as it has and will for millennia past and future. And though winter is a stubborn old man, she breaks his frozen fingers to thaw her earth by day only to let him reclaim his icy grip upon her orb overnight wreaking havoc on the vulnerable infrastructure of this venerable railroad forever known as the “CW” (Central Washington Railroad). At MP82, just a few jointed-rail-sticks west of the ghost town of Govan (elevator in the right background), Engineer Jerry Miller helms Eastern Washington Gateway’s HM02-2 as it undulates the contour of the steppe-like topography, like the sun, rising and descending ad infinitum the train begins its increasing to 1% corniche drop into Rattlesnake Gulch along Jarchow and Bender Lake, crossing Childers and Corbett Draw all the while dwindling the few miles to the next hamlet of Almira at a comfortable twenty some-odd miles per turn of the hand with thirty-in-tow “mtys” destined for the waiting grain spouts and the hardy men that man them twenty-four more miles down-the-line at end-of-the-line Coulee City where Jerry and his Conductor F. M. Simon, calling it a day’s work, will tie down and tie up. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

"Deep Creek Crepusculum"

Guest post by Frederick Manfred Simon.

 February 23, 2017

Half past six, it’s colder than a witch’s teat. In the pitch of darkness hoarfrost has encrusted the pines and encased grab irons and rails alike with ice as the night’s fog dissipates and the day begins to break. Having dropped down the 1.91% grade into the Deep Creek horseshoe, aka “killer” curve at track speed – 10 mph – into an immediate climb culminating at 1.0% it doesn’t take long for immutable gravity to sink its unforgiving claws into the inertia of 12,152,600 pounds of wheat the EWG HL22-2 has collected from nondescript Eastern Washington farming communities like Coulee City, Creston, Almira, Davenport in 60 loads (and one empty), quickly stealing what little momentum the three-quarter-mile-long leviathan gained on its descent just a mile and some 30 minutes back bringing the wide-open hand-me-down hand-me-downs – a duce of 45’s and a Dash-8 – to their knees, crawling, at a mere 1.7 mph. Their aching roar obliterates the crepuscular peace. Never fear! Ever-so-deft, git-er-done engineer Bruce Butler, the centenarian bantam has gone round-and-round with this nemesis of the CW line for years putting his gut-instinct mojo on the throttle beating Killer curve and it’s left and right hooks – the grades on either side – one more time cresting his train at a comfortable 10 mph. In less than an hour he and his conductor will have this train safely tucked away at Highline Grain ready to be unloaded only to begin its outbound trek all over again where Killer Curve will be lying-in-wait, ready and raring for another fight! 

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

“Polar Express”

Guest post by Frederick Manfred Simon.

January 19, 2017

Refracting afternoon backlighting suns the pristine arctic icescape neath translucent blue-ice-papered skies belying the non-existent temperature near Bluestem as a track-speeding double-tracking Columbia Sub double-headed double-stacked “Z” slips forth from east out of the myriad coulees so definitive of this near uninhabited province of the “Evergreen” State.

Monday, May 11, 2020


Guest post by Frederick Manfred Simon.

January 24, 2017

I’ve had this image ready to post for several weeks all the while ruminating, pondering its backstory, even asking family and friends for input yet every attempt to alchemize “words” produced no auric compound, only lead. In the small, still, still-black hours of this morning I simply let it go and resigned to the immutable fact that some images need no words for they – mere words – would diminish the raw, undressed image as it stands. So I’ll let this image, entitled “Crucible,” speak for itself. 

Sunday, May 10, 2020

"Ghost Town Poltergeist"

Guest post by Frederick Manfred Simon.

 February 3, 2017

In the dead of night when grave diggers and trainmen earn their living butted SD45’s come to rest in the ghost town of Govan: the crew has died on time. Many moons ago, a thriving community with depot along the 1889 laid Central Washington Railway, Govan is likewise dead save for three horizon-piercing concreted and corrugated elevators; more abandoned homesteads than inhabited; and flee-bitten, howling hounds that roam the channeled scablands infinite. There is no light to see of where black steam-belching-shovels had extracted sand nearby so vital to constructing the railway but for the train’s temporal beam searching the right-of-way and van lights with its relief crew finding the 645’s breaking the damned silence, filling the coulees like the prehistoric waters that flowed here with the industrious sound of railroading that brought forth this place from nothing just as it has sustained its agricultural significance even as the town itself died. Eponymic of R.B. Govan, CWR’s construction engineer, it is but a fly speck on modern Columbia Plateau cartography. Its bustling business district incinerated in 1927, the sum 100 or so residents faded into unrecorded history as Govan’s coup de grĂ¢ce came in ‘33: US 2 bypassing it by a half mile. The still-standing, believed-haunted schoolhouse shuttered in ‘42; the post office in ‘67 about the time these EMD’s came to life. They’ll soon be in rested hogger’s hands: he’ll crack the throttle breaking deeper into the disquieting quietus as the six-thousand horses rare to pull the slack out of so many drawbars bringing the train further west to posit ravenous empties under grain-gorged spouts far and fewer betwixt this place of shadows and dust, and the abbreviated “CW” terminus, Coulee City. “Hiball!” The throaty roar and rhythmic clickity-clack of steel wheels hitting jointed rail-ends Doppler as the coupled procession disappears into the envelop of night like a wandering poltergeist; its headlight pushes ahead into the unending frozen darkness in search of the next grain-bearing elevator in an all-but-forgotten community rousing the dead and still-living alike. 

Saturday, May 9, 2020

“Somewhere East of Eden and West of Creston”

Guest post by Frederick Manfred Simon.

January 7, 2016

A long way from their former home in the land of fruits and nuts; even further from their windy birthplace a deuce of once bloody-nosed 45’s make 26 unkempt, soon-to-be-loaded with dark northern wheat “scoot” cars follow the undulating “CW” grade laying frozen-prone under drifted snow betwixt the rolling “hills” of Eastern Washington on the steppe of the mighty Columbia from which 4,090-foot Johnny George Mountain and Whitestone Ridge of the Columbia Range rise into the brewing Jovian-like atmosphere preparing another thick blanket of white-cold down even before darkness displaces the diffused luminescence and envelops the near dormant, bitter cold opaline land. 

Friday, May 8, 2020

“Creston Crepusculum”

Guest post by Frederick Manfred Simon.

September 16, 2016 

Save for the trace of sunlight on the distant wheat country horizon, the sun has retracted its warming rays and left a crystal clear pale blue sky for the stars to emerge and begin to twinkle in. With the empty grain hoppers dropped and spotted; loaded ones picked up; the terminal brake test completed, it’s time to start heading homeward, towards Cheney, sixty some miles eastbound on what was once the Northern Pacific’s, later Burlington Northern’s “CW” branch that reaches Coulee City. One the last bastions of covered wagons and first generation geeps that brought long trains of 40-foot wheat service boxcars in and out with six or more unit consists in the 1980’s. The wagons and geeps are long gone just as the NP and BN are, predecessors of today’s BNSF. The line itself is now in the hands of the State and operated by the Eastern Washington Gateway Railroad using six-axle Dash 2’s and Dash 8’s with plenty of tractive effort to muscle fifty-car-plus loaded ACF and PS2 covered hoppers but only at 10 miles an hour. With only a few hours left to work for this crew means another must bring the train into Cheney from wherever this one ties down at.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

"Up and Over, In Between"

Guest post by Frederick Manfred Simon.

October 1, 2016

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

BN Mansfield Local Near Palisades

Courtesy of Blair Kooistra.

Blair says:

"Low rumble of Burlington Northern's upbound Withrow turn disturbs the hissssss-tap-tap-tap-hissss of pivot crop sprinklers traversing the Mansfield Branch on August 1, 1983. This was the branch where 40 foot boxcars were used to haul grain from rural elevators. The branch was abandoned less than two years later."

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Undated Coulee City View


The building behind H.E. Stoll's Auto Mechanic building is the Home Market.

Note the depot at the end of the street and the lighter colored building behind it, part of the grain facilities of Centennial Mills.