Monday, November 7, 2022

The Plug That Helped Push This Website In 2010

This website was started in 2008 to chronicle railroading in the Big Bend region of Washington State. At the time, I was not certain I would be able to find very much to populate it. I should not have worried. Material is endless, seemingly, as are the connections I've made over the years. 

As I look towards the beginning of the 16th year here, the website's mission is just as tight today as it was at the beginning. I've strayed from the Big Bend region only a few times, despite how interesting something might be to me. 

I've determined to make this an interesting destination by posting daily, as I have been for years. One newer feature I've not spoken of is when I'm posting newspaper clippings, I'll post more than one on that day. I get that sometimes the clippings don't have the same eye appeal as a photo.

Anyway, back in 2010, when I was posting every other day, Micheal Sol sent a message to the Milwaukee Road group at (then) Yahoo Groups. It was heartening to read, considering his Milwaukee Road pedigree, the research he's done, the material he's seen, and the very interesting website he still maintains.

Here is the message sent:

Posted by: "Michael Sol"

Sun Oct 31, 2010 8:47 pm 

In the "as we were speaking" department, a good example of a larger purpose happened to transpire over the weekend with regard to Milwaukee Road homesteading brochures, and related development brochures.

One of our list members, Dan Bolyard, operates what I would call a "boutique" website: modest in purpose, a very narrow focus, but therein achieving a careful and close view of the subject material, in this case railroading in the "Big Bend" area of Central Washington. (**this link still works, it's the old address for this site)

Dan has a nice search index on the right side, and so, for instance, you can quickly bring up all of his Milwaukee Road entries, and there are quite a few:

**or you can now use:

I've long enjoyed checking in from time to time, the information Dan has on those "other" railroads has been interesting as well. It's good history and not the kind that is all that easy to find: local newspaper clippings, photos, etc. Recently Dan has had some nice photos of the Beverly bridge area -- courtesy of the digital revolution -- and a reprint of the Milwaukee Railroader article on Milwaukee's role in the Hanford Project. Of particular interest to me, Dan recently uploaded a digital reproduction of a 1911 brochure of the Beverly Investment Company.


Milwaukee Road had a filing cabinet full of old promotional brochures from over the years, but, when I was there, in the early 1970s, these were pretty much one-of-a-kind things. Color photocopiers hadn't been invented yet, and the regular kind left a lot to be desired from the resolution standpoint. Most professional photography stores had a camera setup with the specialized lenses and could take actual photos of such old documents, but that was expensive, and you still were limited to the physical presence of a sheet of photography paper. And getting the physical item out of a library or other somewhat restricted area wasn't always feasible. Archival libraries did and do have such cameras, or farm the work out, and still charge very high rates for each such reproduction. And each new user gets to pay the same high fee.

Being interested in the homestead era, I have slowly been accumulating old Milwaukee settlement brochures, as they provide a vivid window into an important phase of Western settlement, what brought people West, and what visions some of the promoters had -- and often believed in themselves.

In any event, I asked Dan about that brochure, and he generously offered to provide through email the high resolution scans of the brochure that he made. And so, on the topic point, one other advantage of digitizing material is that rare materials, with a high artistic value, can not only be preserved with a high degree of authenticity, but used and shared among a far larger audience of viewers and users than the original document ever could be in this day and age.

Dan's Beverly Investment Company brochure was a new one to me. I had not seen that one anywhere before and I doubt there are many extant. It certainly expressed the high hopes of an era and, looking at Beverly today, the crushing reality.

I was glad to see the brochure, and thanks to Dan, and the digital revolution, I was able to.

Best regards, Michael Sol

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