Tuesday, August 11, 2020

1947 Odessa Views

Courtesy of Jack Dayley.

Jack says:

"Here's a few more photos of my Dad, Chuck Dayley, at Odessa in 1947. I don't remember the name of the gentleman standing next to him on the platform."

Monday, August 10, 2020

GN Train At Odessa

Courtesy of Jack Dayley.

Jack says:

"Here’s a photo of my dad, Chuck Dayley, handing up an order to a westbound at Odessa. Our family lived in the depot until 1953 when Dad took the agent job at Chewelah. I worked the extra board on the GN for several years starting 1966. Signed on at the Havermale station in Spokane and hooped up a few orders myself. We were a railroad family."

Sunday, August 9, 2020

"Museum Meet of Relics and Rivals"

Guest post by Frederick Manfred Simon.

F9A 6703A was delivered as 7010D to the Northern Pacific in 1956 and later retrofitted with a steam boiler for passenger service. Hence the two-tone green passenger scheme. The bright red 30-foot pre-WWII wood tounge and grove Great Northern caboose X-320 with the iconic rocky mountain goat "Safety First" logo was built at GN's vast St. Cloud, MN shops. These well preserved (the F9A is fully operational) relics of rival railways are part of an extensive and impressive collection of historical rolling stock on display at the Inland Northwest Rail Museum's new, multi-million dollar facility just west of Reardan, WA, 25 miles west of Spokane, WA. I highly recommend a visit.  

Saturday, August 8, 2020

"Rocklyn Arrival"

Guest post by Frederick Manfred Simon.

Jerry Miller eases WER GP30 2422 And a single CH down into Rocklyn on the CW Sub on a shivering cold January evening enroute to Davenport to tie down, tie up, and call it a day.

Friday, August 7, 2020

“I’m a Cowboy, On a Steel Horse I Ride”

Guest post by Frederick Manfred Simon.

June 29, 2019

Stars by the billions populate the small hour Hite at night sky as Washington Eastern SD40-2 3910’s laser-like headlight beam provides a nice reflection of light on its nose and overall scene after snagging the usual five loads. Two miles west is the highest point on the CW Sub at 2538 FAMSL. Reached as a matter of properties owned by the Northern Pacific prior to its arrival and advertised as a locale to seed a “town” which never materialized. Viewed through the railings of the mobile stairs used to retrieve wheat samples from inbound loaded trucks of grain to be posited into one or the other crib, concrete, or stainless steel elevators; the only structures at this outpost save the Highline Grain truck scale station shanty outfitted with all the de rigueur human amenities including microwave and AC though sans a privy. It's the spartan, unheated latrine about a car length away. Just as we are like cowboys that ride steel horses into the night and history, Hite as with almost all the “living museum” elevator tracks along the vulnerable CW, one can still find near century-old as-harvested, crooked iron oak ties and tiny hash marks that litter the railhead where for so many decades the elevator hands have used and still use the manual fulcrum of the made-in-Wisconsin arm-strong car mover to spot covered hoppers and, until the early 80s, 40-foot boxcars under the respective spout. Lines like the CW Sub are truly living history and running on measured, even borrowed time. Some day only the stars will remain. 

Thursday, August 6, 2020

"A Stoge For The Road"

Guest post by Frederick Manfred Simon.

May 5, 2019

Yep. That's me clamping down on my trademark: an unlit Swisher Sweet, aka horseshit and splinters after completing a run from Four Lakes to just west of Hartline on a warm, Eastern Washington May day on the CW Sub. Don't ever light 'em, just chew on them whenever I'm hoggin'. It keeps the munchies in check. Bumbling along at a mere 10mph with some sections reduced to 5mph can make for a bloody long, tiresome shift. Don't get me wrong, my focus and vigilance are nevertheless uncompromisingly unceasing. It's an "art" as my friend and fellow engineer Phil Brahms noted while we were discussing the finer points of train handling the other day over lunch. I don't think you'll find any engineer who'll argue with Phil's assessment of the craft. A craft that is in jeopardy of dying out. (Image courtesy of my friend and fellow Railroader James House.)

The stoge is nothing new. In this shot from April 1987, Blair Kooistra found a stoge in use at Cunningham, WA.


Wednesday, August 5, 2020

“Iron Giant”

Guest post by Frederick Manfred Simon.

December 26, 2018

My youngest son Andrew walks by while I’m post-processing this image and says, “Looks like the Iron Giant,” me, “Perfect, that’s the title!” The unwitting, innocently ironic observation is spot on. A reference to the cult classic, cold war-themed animation about a boy - Hogarth Hughes - and a giant indestructible, self-repairing, alien robot whom he befriends and adores. A timeless story Andrew, his Irish twin brother Alexander, and I watched many times over when they were toddlers. And, yes. In some respects, former Santa Fe GP30r 2722, does look like a menacing Iron Giant. The irony doesn’t end there. This La Grange Iron Giant was born in 1962 during the onset of the Cold War and the end of nuclear test detonations in the Nevada desert. 56 years forward on the day after Christmas, now Washington Eastern 2422, it might seem this EMD giant is truly indestructible, and while it isn’t self-repairing, it certainly has been rebuilt from the ground up at least once by craftsmen at the Cleburne Shops in Texas in 1983, and, albeit figuratively, still eating up the track just as the cinematic Iron Giant had, whose voice is none other than Vin Diesel’s - pun intended. And still, there are more parallels with the story of the metal alien in that like Hogarth, who sheepishly exclaims, “My very own giant robot - I’m the luckiest kid in America!” I too feel that boyish exuberance of “having” my very own giant robot each time I’ve been at 2422’s, or any locomotive’s throttle just as it was this snowing, as if, though thankfully not, nuclear winter night near MP83 on the CW Sub. However, eventually, everything comes to an end. Someday, in the not to distant future, 2422 will, as in the movie, encounter destruction. And the boy says to the Iron Giant: “You go, I stay. No following!”

Tuesday, August 4, 2020


Guest post by Frederick Manfred Simon.

While out working with Bruce Butler on Work Train duty, I managed to harvest a date nail from the CW Sub. Most of the date nails have long disappeared from ties along the actual right of way. This '31 nail let me discover it at a former Davenport Stock yard located just west of the US 2 underpass. I'd always wanted to check out the ties that had been used as fence posts at the yard while engineering past it and finally got my chance. In '31, 88-years-ago, America was still reeling from the stock market crash with over 8 million unemployed and the "Dust Bowl" wasn't helping matters. Al Capone was sent to Alcatraz, and "Frankenstein" was at the movie houses.

Average Cost of new house $6,790.00
Average wages per year $1,850.00
Cost of a gallon of Gas 10 cents
Average Cost for house rent $18.00 per month
A loaf of Bread 8 cents
A LB of Hamburger Meat 11 cents
Alarm Clock $3.50
New Car Average Price $640.00

Monday, August 3, 2020

“Tunnel Motor Blues”

Guest post by Frederick Manfred Simon.

January 24, 2019

Blue hour at Hanson, but a stub track of antiquated elevators in a non-existent community on the CW Sub, on a sunless overcasted January day, gaining elevation one crosstie at a time, though nothing like the tunneled Sierra grades, engineer Ted Curhpey with the usual file of laden CH’s in tow, spies his train in the mirror of former Cotton Belt to wheat belt tee-dash-two 8702 as her trident of ample candles electrifies the near parallel sticks like illuminated neon gas-filled glass tubes pointing the way. Combined exhaust and radiator heat deflection of the three-motor consist distorts the hibernal landscape so barren, yet so fertile rolling fields neath a cold cotton-white snow blanket in sharp contrast with the boiling wool-black exhaust plume. The momentary cacophony fades in a muffled doppler effect and the soundless vacuum is filled with emptiness, again. Every time I’m here I marvel at why the local farmer’s posted an unambiguous sign nearby. Says, “No Hunting, No Trespassing, No Excuses, Violators Will Be Prosecuted.” Seems no nefarious spirit would care to even kick a rock, out here. 

Sunday, August 2, 2020

"The Office"

Guest post by Frederick Manfred Simon.

November 12, 2019

Aka, "The Seat," or as I tend to refer to it, "The Saddle." After all, it is an Iron Horse! The once ubiquitous "standard" AAR control stand is becoming a rare and venerable scene as these aging mares are pulling and putting in their last train hauling miles. Here, in the seat, the Hogger, plies his deft (and deftly plies), intuitive craft of locomotive engineering, i.e., train handling. To the citizen waiting for the train to pass at a grade crossing it may seem a simple task. It is not. Vigilance and control are constant and paramount: Even before the wheels begin to roll, myriad considerations and inspections are executed to ensure all is in good working order. Only then is the "Hiball" given between Engineer and Crew. Keeping the train rolling efficiently and safely requires diligent monitoring of tangible gauges (control stand) and intangible gauges (gut instinct). Sadly, today's hi-tech locomotives are equipped with "Trip Optimizers" that virtually "run" the train for the engineer, the arguable natural progression thereof begetting trains remotely or computer operated in the not too distant future. 

Saturday, August 1, 2020

“Purple Haze”

Guest post by Frederick Manfred Simon.

January 30, 2018

Mused Jimi Hendrix - an avid science fiction fan - whilst being interviewed: “You know the
song … It was about going through this land. This mythical [land] … because that’s what I like to do is write a lot of mythical scenes. You know, like the history of the wars on Neptune.” Well, I’m might be a bit of a mythologist myself, though I’m no meteorologist, near as I can tell the gaseous, Jovian-like, vapor is “scud clouds” boiling overhead refracting and commingling into a mythical, Neptunesque purple haze the myriad lights from near-by Spokane International Airport and the Highline Grain facility where antecedent, former Union Pacific Dash-8 9129, meets its descendent, BNSF Dash-9 1023. Now NIWX owned 9129 and her sisters from another mother, an SD40T-2 and SD45, have brought in from CW Sub points west some 60 EWG “Scoot Train” loads of Eastern Washington wheat to be posited into Highline’s mega silos where it will be, graded, State-inspected, classified, mixed, and loaded for export into this BNSF unit grain train of which 1023 brings up the rear as its DPU on this brisk penultimate January evening of 2018.