From the Jim Fredrickson Collection at PNRA.
Thanks to Aaron Schwarz for digging these out.
I'm guessing these are from the early 1909 timeframe.
The entire story can be seen here at their website. I've plucked out Day 6, as it pertains to the focus this page.
On March 23, 2014 Alan L. Freed gave the keynote presentation at the National Railroad Historical Society’s Annual Banquet in Washington DC. The speech was entitled “Last Ride on the Milwaukee Road Pacific Extension.”
The presentation detailed a Fairmont Speeder trip on the abandoned western main line of the Milwaukee Road. The trip took place in early August 1980. Alan was accompanied by Chuck Bothwell, a friend since high school. They both worked as Locomotive Firemen and Engineers on the Penn Central’s Chesapeake Division in the early and mid 1970’s.
A 1952 M-19 Fairmont Speeder was purchased for $400 from a scrap heap at the Maine Central Railroad Yard in Waterville, Maine, specifically to make this trip. A “new” railroad was formed–The Great Northeastern Pacific South and Western Railroad, affectionately known as the “Weedroute.”
This site features a photo essay of a what may be the final trip on the abandoned Milwaukee Road’s Pacific Extension from Miles City, Montana to Cedar Falls, Washington. The trip took place in August 1980.
Back in 2012 Mac M. asked:
I have a 1968 Idaho Division train brief off (this) website about the Wheeler Turnaround Local, train 1234-1235 between Pasco and Adrian. The brief includes statement "This train supplemented during beet and potato harvest with road switcher at Wheeler and Turnaround local Pasco to Connell."
Does anyone know anything about the seasonal road switcher at Wheeler? I suspect this job went to Adrian in season to deliver empty cars and get loads of beets from GN at Adrian. Can anyone confirm? Anyone know official or unofficial name of this assignment in the 1960's?
I intend to use info for a sentence or two in a book John L. and I are writing about the GN in the 1960's and his career. John worked the GN beet local for at least one stand in the 1960's.
Gary D replied:
I arrived in Wheeler WA on September 25, 1963.
I was filling a temporary position as Operator for the fall sugar beet harvest that was about to start. Before the day was over my job had been eliminated and reinstated by Mr. Westine, the train master. The reason it was reinstated was the U&I officials declared that they would open as usual. However, there would be no sugar storage facilities, and every ton of sugar produced would be loaded and shipped within about 24 hours.
There were at least two ramifications. One the sugar loading tracks needed to be switched at more frequent intervals, so a 16 hour seven day a week switcher job was created. The crew actually worked 15 hours and took "beans" at the end of their shift. It was an extremely popular job. The crews could fill their time cards for the month in just a few days and then take the rest of the month off. We saw mostly the top of the seniority list.
The beet car trains moved according to need and were a daily occurrence. That may well have been your Wheeler to Connell turn around local. I know at least on one occasion I rode the caboose to Connell and back. This became a source of embarrassment for me. This train set out empty beet cars at each siding. At one such stop I was in the cupola watching the activity on the ground. The brakes were releasing and I was listening for the slack. I heard it coming, ripping down the train and I ducked back inside. I wasn't quite fast enough and the window frame snicked my glasses and sent them spinning out of the window onto the ground. I quickly wrote down the number of the beet car adjacent to the location, and next morning I sent a note to the agent and asked him to search the ground nearby. The local that evening brought me an envelope with my glasses, no worse for the wear.
The switcher would make up the train in the afternoon and push the whole thing out the main line north of town. The local would arrive and pull through the storage track with loaded beet cars, empty sugar hoppers for the bulk sugar and fifty foot double door box cars for bagged sugar. Nothing but the best! I would take up a position at the wye to the plant lead in the afternoon as the switcher pushed the train. I could scribble car numbers for my train list as fast as the crew would push. In fact they were inclined to push at the dead slow so as to help me. The plant lead was the top of a long hill out of the plant. Then the main line continued on a slight down hill slope. One day I was on station scribbling furiously when the slack came ripping by and a knuckle whistled by my head. After that I stood a bit further away.
The average beet car train was over a hundred cars. I must have scribbled a million car numbers that winter.
The substation is located near Vernita on the Columbia River Northwest of Richland. Due to the substation being in the middle of a desolate area, the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) erected a small community adjacent to the substation for construction workers, substation operators, and maintenance personnel. It was complete with family housing, a dorm for single workers, a fire station, post office, and a school. The first housing was completed in 1942 with an additional 13 residences added later. Trees, flowers, and other landscaping was added as well. The substation also provided power to the Hanford site for the top secret Manhattan project.
Due to automation of the substation in the late 1980's, there was no longer a need to house workers on site. The small community was removed and the landscape was returned to a desert environment.
Neal L. adds:
"I discovered this region in 1982 as a boy. I began researching it's history & prehistory in 1991. This is an excellent photo and shows many things. It says,"Jan.1945,(shadow of Umtanum Ridge confirms winter, also indicates mid-day with no clouds to the south). Western aspect, high quality film, 200 ASA or higher,(military) from an airplane 1500'-2000',(military). The photo isn't classified or it's security classification has been cut away.
"The debris pile, lower right is from const. of Midway as well as material from removal of Mr. Terrell's Juniper Springs Ranch. It's outta frame left,( the only structure not razed was a small concrete/cobble stone building, likely the blacksmith shop?) This is where many Pioneers retreated to during the largest flood on record in June, 1894.
"Midway with housing, the untaking tower, switchyard, and control building/head quarters, fallout shelter below. Just inside Umtanum's shadow, 1000' west is Vernita(1906-1943). It had a Post Office and ranch with a sizable orchard. If you turned north the Richmond Ferry(1906-1943) was about a mile. It crossed at Col. Rivermile 390&391.(The road jct. there is 3.0 miles from gate 126 at SR 24).
"In 2017 I made a "Historical Location Sign" an placed it there at the Vernita townsite. The rail line was completed here in 1914. Fruit here in the Upper Priest Rapids Valley ripened 7-10 days before any other locations in the Pac. N.W. That combination made the fruit harvest here the most profitable. West is the New York Ranch,, a large orchard. The Paris Ranch was down and across the Columbia at R.M. 386.5.
"Across the skyline, L to R you can see Cairn Hope Pk., 3354' it holds snow, as shown here, longer than anywhere in the region. It's part of Yakima Ridge. Next is an extra thick cluster of mid-level clouds held there by Mt. Rainier, elev. 14,410 and W.N.W. at 95 miles distant. Today, at 3.6 miles west of SR24 the road ends.
"The 8' elk fence, orchard, and everything west is owned by S. Martinez Livestock Inc. LLC (may well be a "Century Farm"?) If memory serves it began with Simon Martinez and one band of sheep in the 1920s? Today the Martinez Family is one of the most highly respected ranching/farming operations in the Pac. N.W. They're award winning stewards of the land, leading by example, and following the "Golden Rule". We'd be a much better nation if our govt. would follow suit."
Photo by Gary Brown.
"About 1975.When I first found this rail yard I was totally blown away by the catenary still there. The Coast electrics had stopped ops in 1972 ,but the wire was still there, and apparently kept energized so it would not be stolen for the copper."