Saturday, February 26, 2022

Thursday, February 24, 2022

PCC Train At Mondovi

Courtesy of Lauren Scrafford.

Lauren says:

"Palouse River and Coulee City, PCC 2353 leads a W/B 49 car freight through the S curve west of Mondovi, WA on October 3, 2005 with WAMX 4018 & BLMR 799. This W/B had 48 XTY grain hoppers for distribution on the west end of the line and 1 flatcar loaded with John Deere Farm Tractors. We followed this one from Cheney to Coulee City."

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

BN Caboose At Hite

Photo courtesy of Rick Morgan.

Rick says:

"Westbound grain empties on the CW branch headed for Coulee City at Hite WA on 4 August 1990."

Monday, February 21, 2022

“Hartline Departure”

Guest post by Frederick Manfred Simon.

April 28, 2017

Saturating all she sees taking panoramic command of her day as an everlasting invisible north wind whips topsoil she’s already parched after a long, hard, wet, winter aft of five Coulee City charged scoot cars tucked in tight ‘hind a trio of ‘D’s across US Highway Two: from field to endless field; to and fro; fro and to; since before time. Timeless. Mythical. The train, departing Hartline, as if Odysseus escaping the angular, leaning, looking like Cyclops, grain elevator on stick-after-jointed-rail-stick laid nearly 11 miles tangent from MP 93 to MP 103 at Cement just before bending and descending the last five miles into end-of-the-line Coulee. Odyssey complete. 

Sunday, February 20, 2022

BN Train At Cement

Courtesy of Blair Kooistra.

Blair says:

"CW Local departs Coulee City, WA on October 11, 1980 with 15 40-foot boxcars of grain bound for west-coast export behind a mix of mostly former Northern Pacific F9A and B's and a GP7 and GP9--and one former SP&S F3, 712.

"Most of the cars wear BN paint--the rest a mix of Great Northern and Burlington. Why no unpainted NP boxcars? A close look at the repainted cars might answer that question: 10 of the 11 repainted cars appear to be former Northern Pacific B2's. The freight car nerd within me wonders why the NP cars were repainted at a faster rate than the GN or CB&Q 40-foot cars?

"I did the same shot 10 months later--still F-units and geeps, but this time, all covered hoppers. The only 40' boxcars seen were being used to haul grain off the Eleanor spur."

Saturday, February 19, 2022

“Force Majeure”

Guest post by Fred Simon.

December 30, 2016

Hartline, Washington: before breakfast-o’clock in the midst of temperatures tumbling into inhumane depths; when one can scarcely feel his digits ditch lights reach into the darkness and find Conductor Gary Durr wading through drifted and drifting snow to hold a job briefing with Dave Reagan, his Engineer, where Durr will briefly escape the inclemency in the relative warmth of the cab as they assess the situation and plan their next few moves. Railroaders have been at war with the elements for generations, hence there is nothing extraordinary about this scene. Yet, it is a glimpse into one such campaign in that perpetual conflict between man; his machines; his – a la Nietzsche – indomitable Will to Power and what is Force Majeure. To-wit: the crew confronts myriad complications: frozen switch locks; compacted, snowed-in switches and “throwing” them means throwing your back – all your living and dead might – into bending frozen steel to one’s will; bad, if not non-existent footing; air hoses and the air that passes through them frozen, unbendable and impassable; not to mention the overarching mental and physical fatigue all while ensuring that each move is orchestrated according to a detailed, sequential plan: switches lined, handbrakes set, derails dropped, cars properly spotted, working in between unaired cars and 200-plus-ton locomotives. These men; this Band of Brothers, they have each other’s six every-single-step of the way for any lapse or deviation from said maneuver or miscommunication is consequential. The demand for unflagging concentration is nothing short of supreme as the wind mercilessly knifes its icy blades into any exposed skin and through as many layers of clothing, and any romantic notion of railroading leaves you as quickly as the boreal vacuum sucks the warmth from your body. 

Monday, February 14, 2022

"Boiling heat, summer stench…”

Guest post by Frederick Manfred Simon. 

August 3, 2018

Burning. Time. Land. Light. EWG is on the move and hogger Zachary Hastings has a firm set applied; pinching 456 wheels wanting to roll on half as many axles. Hastings having transitioned the three D’s to digging-in dynamics – that lonely reedy-whine tells – upon cresting at Hanson two poles past, now just west of Almira occupying Starkel’s dust-parched dirt road in a near 1.3% slope sloping down to 1.5%. 8,000 tons bunched: fifty-five filled steel railed wagons plus two TILX tanks black bringing up the rear empty, flashing Fred hanging, pushing. This annum’s infernos west belch rising smog high up, blotting out – in seconds – a blood-red black hole sun sinking. Foreground, stubbled. Thickened whisker-waves of amber shaven combine-close attests harvest is in highest gear, confirmed by that permeating, so distinctive powdery, wheat-sweet harvest-time odor commingling this pungent scent of scorched earth, with exhausted, burnt diesel-heated fumes whirling grit altogether swirl, assailing olfactories and searing every eye including Heaven’s all-seeing eye.

Saturday, February 12, 2022

Mansfield Branch View

Courtesy of Blair Kooistra.

Blair says:

"Irrigatin': Pivot sprinklers tic-tic-tic-ticking as Burlington Northern's Withrow Turn heads up the Mansfield Branch a few miles up Palisades Canyon on August 1, 1983. Tic-tic-tic. . .like an ear worm now."


Thursday, February 10, 2022

“Bending Light”

Guest post by Frederick Manfred Simon.

December 1, 2017

So it’s like three in the morning, and I can’t sleep. God knows what’s tumbling around in my nut. Enough! I don some keep-me-warm duds, grab me gear and roll. Yeah. It’s cold out. After all, it’s the first morning of December. It’s supposed to be bloody cold! Anyway, with me ever-ready gear and still-snug self in my ice-cold rig, I head west. Out I-90 then US 2 along the BNSF. Scanner is lively: Seattle East has a bag full of eastbounds backed up from Latah Jct. to Edwall: empty coal and oil, manifest, automotive. On comes the dispatcher again. “Automotive hold at Fairchild, Boyer West won’t be able to take trains until traffic clears up.” Cool! There’s my fish. Closing in on Fairchild I see the hogger has pulled his power nicely over the US 2 underpass still adorned with the Great Northern Billy Goat logo. Problem. However. The Air Base is too proximate to simply pull over and set up. And there’s a sign that says 30-minute parking on account they don’t like folks hangin’ out too long near the Base. And I sure don’t want to give the crew concern as to what some guy with a camera in the wee hours of the morning is doing taking pictures of their train. Best to duck under the overpass and set up for a silhouette and hope for some early rises to provide the leading, bending neon tube-like light streaks to incorporate into the otherwise blasé composition. Parked, shite together, eject, set up, compose, adjust, ready, and just as I begin my exposure a couple of small-hour risers pass under the overpass. Sweet!!! I hear the air release. Up ahead the target has changed color. Just a few more seconds and I’m good. Done! The ES44C4 and two NS Dashies begin to breathe as an ES44C4 dupe bumps the rear. A quick preview of the result: Nice! Gear and self back in me toasty SUV. Time to go home and hopefully get some sleep. Yup. Some fresh air and squeezing off a few frames is just what the foam-doctor ordered. Home. In the door. Hit the rack…zzzzzzzzzzz…