Friday, February 24, 2023

1975 Local Power At Wenatchee

Photo courtesy of Sid Vaught.

August 14, 1975

Sid says:

"It's quiet as the grave in the yard on this weekend as branch line power rests for the weekend. Great paint scheme."

Thursday, February 23, 2023

"Coles Crossing"

Guest post by Frederick Manfred Simon.

 December 23, 2017

02:56 crew change at Cole’s Crossing (homestead in the background) somewhere along US 2 between night and a barely dozen-degree morning. In the 45 cab, Eastern Washington Gateway Engineer “Jay” Pospisil (aka Popsicle) and Conductor Scott Rohrig have just been briefed by and relieved the previous crew to continue the train’s trek west on the venerable “CW.” Some 2100 feet into the icy, countlessly pinholed-black, flashing-red Fred dutifully comms control-stand-perched Mary he’s good-to-go and Jay releases the binders throttle in opposite hand opens it to give his horses the gitty up. Just above the headlight I spot Orion’s belt and I pause to consider how much tonnage this inimitable ’69 LaGrange mare has hauled about murica while she proudly wore Espee’s iconic scarlet and grey dress, and how many tons she helped shove black and blue over Mullan Pass while stabled, fed and ploughing for Montana Rail Link? Here on the EWG, she still earns her keep: daily, for the foreseeable future. Rolling, and that unmistakable squeaking of flexing flexicoil trucks and EMD turbo whine fade and vanish into the arctic darkness, my timeless image securely frozen in time. 

Monday, February 20, 2023

BN 1796 At Wenatchee

Photo courtesy of Bill Edgar.

June 1974

Bill says:

"BN 1796, former GN 723, a late phase GP9 built in October 1957, was caught resting at Wenatchee, WA, part of a helper set, in early June 1974. This unit seemed to hang around northwest Washington, often in helper service. By 1977 GN's simplifed scheme had been replaced by BN green."

Sunday, February 19, 2023

BN F Units At Coulee City

Courtesy of Blair Kooistra.

Blair says:
"There's a rumor afloat that BNSF is buying/has bought an A-B pair of F-units recently jettisoned by Norfolk Southern, used to power their executive train. Whether this is true or not, the hand-wringing among fans has begun: what color will they be painted? Will they keep those funny ditch lights? what about the horn?

"Having recalled Burlington Northern's foray into a similar small fleet of Covered Wagons in the 1990s (remember BN-1 and -2?), it's deja vu all over again. BN rebuilt a pair of old freight locomotives and painted them in the "Grinstein Green" and cream livery, which was almost universally disliked by the railfan community. 

"Then they got rid of them. Frankly, i'd be happy with F-units on BNSF's officer trains over the alternative, no matter the paint scheme.

"But I'd still prefer Cascade Green--which brings me to this photo, of the last active BN (non BN-1 or -2, that is) F-units I photographed. November 7, 1981, with four F9As leaving Coulee City, WA back to Spokane behind a GP9. As I recalled, we pooled our loose cash to offer the crew as a bribe to turn the power to have an F-unit lead, but they weren't too interested in our offer!"

Saturday, February 18, 2023


Guest post by Frederick Manfred Simon.

May 20, 2017

Like a postmodern American Stonehenge – silent – proud – pillars – rising as if a portal into another world crumbling yet will not bend to time though its intended task of lifting swifting elegant trans-con passenger trains and heavy-long freights across and over the Lind Coulee that beaks westward into the expansive Kansas Prairie to what must have seemed as terra incognito: the American West some hundred years prior present. Herculean was the 1905 Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul Railroad board blessed 2,300-mile Pacific expansion completed in Olympian speed: just three short years at the cost of nearly two billion today-dollars labeled in retrospect as an “egregious” adventure by certain modern railroad scholars. Maybe. Certainly, the Milwaukee’s future, at the time, was burning as brightly as the setting sun over the Pacific itself. A vision forged into a reality shortlived unbeknownst its heads. Fortuna was not favorable to the bold Road. Unforeseeable events; the erratic, unpredictable evolution of the industry; draconian regulations; notwithstanding critical lapses in sound management contributed to its slow, steady, decline, and untimely death. And still, the mystery of its mystique affects and attracts us like Neolithic Druids paying homage…wondering what was and what might have been.