Friday, June 30, 2023

Mansfield Area Trestle Removal

Photo by Henry Tupling. Courtesy of Darrin Nelson.

May 1987 photo showing a crew of men dismantling trestle #43 that spanned county Rd C NE about 3 miles SW of Mansfield. Two years earlier, the line was abandoned closing an era of railroading into the heart of Douglas County. 

Thursday, June 29, 2023

Grain Loading At Waterville

Photo courtesy of Darrin Nelson.

Around 1917.

Men load sacks of wheat on Great Northern Railway Box Cars via conveyor belt at the warehouse siding in Waterville.

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

1981 Mansfield View

Photo courtesy of Darrin Nelson.

The Mansfield local departing the town of Mansfield on June 14, 1981. Seen here at the Mansfield Boulevard grade crossing, this train will make the return trip back to Wenatchee in just under 5 hours. The speed limit on the line was 20 mph, but was reduced to 15 mph on all curves between Douglas and the Columbia River. 

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Withrow View

Photo by Alan Loebsack. Courtesy of Darrin Nelson.

Winter of 1984-1985.

Box cars sit on the siding track at Withrow on the right while the crew on the main maneuver the train and get ready to make the return trip back to Wenatchee.  In just a few months the line would be shut down.

Monday, June 26, 2023

Supplee Area Train Wreck

Courtesy of Darrin Nelson.

Frederick D. Kelsey (standing with his hand on the gondola car), a Great Northern Railway Superintendent on the Spokane Division from 1915 to 1917, inspects the wreckage of a train near Supplee, Washington on the Mansfield Branch. This photo shows a wrecked wedge snow plow, gondola full of coal and a steam locomotive. Photo c. 1915.

Sunday, June 25, 2023

Saturday, June 24, 2023

Grading Of The GN Line To Peach

Guest post by Ted Curphey.

Starting in 1911, Great Northern Railway let a contract for grading of a new branchline running north from Bluestem through Davenport and down Hawk Creek Canyon to the Columbia River at Peach then turning north toward the mouth of the Spokane River at Fort Spokane. Just below Hawk Creek Falls a short distance from Peach a tunnel was to be bored through a sharp bend in Hawk Creek Canyon. By early 1912 the tunnel was well along when this tragedy took the life Peter Olsen, originally of Sweden.

The incident convinced the project engineers that the soil above the tunnel was too unstable and the would be tunnel was turned into a deep cut that still exists. But it would be all for naught. Starting around 1907, the US Department of the Interior started earmarking various valleys for future dam and reservoir projects. Wanting to head off costly relocations of facilities such as railroads, they informed the railroad seeking to build in those valleys of their intention to flood those same valleys. I'm still trying to determine when the Great Northern was informed of the department's intention to flood the Columbia River Valley, but it was about the time the grading was finishing up on the new branch line. GN decided to not lay track on the grade. Of course the construction of the dam wouldn't take place until the Public Works Administration of the Great Depression. But this project actually went through unlike so many of those planned projects of the USDI. Other planned projects that never came about were at the mouth of the Deschutes River in Oregon and one just east of Connell to be filled by a diverted Palouse River with the reservoir extending all the way to Kahlotus.

Spokesman Review article, Jan 29th, 1912. 

Map showing the tunnel location in relation to Hawk Creek Falls.

If it had completed as proposed, the branch would have crossed Hawk Creek on a tall bridge above the boat. The tunnel would have been just to the right of the bridge in this view.

The retaining wall holding up the roadbed for the GN branch above Hawk Creek Falls can be seen in this view.

Really, if it wasn't for all the trouble they had at that one spot, GN probably would have laid track on the branch.

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Little Falls Dam Info

Guest post by Kirk Carlson.

Washington Water Power Co (now Avista) built Little Falls Dam between 1907 and 1910. Every part of the dam was shipped to Reardan and then carted by wagon to Little Falls. This includes the cement, turbines, penstocks, generators, transformers, and wiring. The dam had four turbines which each weighed 750 tons. These were the largest in the world at the time. They probably had a source for sand and gravel nearby so they could mix the concrete on site, but they still had to transport the cement and keep it dry until it was mixed. WWP had a railroad siding in Reardan with a bunk house, livery stable, blacksmith shop, and cement storage warehouse. This side was on the east side of town away from the grain elevators.

One of the photos shows the derrick used to transfer the loads from a railroad car to a wagon. The derrick is supported by cables strung high to allow wagons and trains to pass underneath. The center portion of the derrick is able to pivot somehow. The lifting power is provided by a steam powered donkey (steam engine) in the little building beside the derrick.

Some of the wagons were huge and heavy duty. No wooden farm wagons here. The heavy duty wagon in the photo is pulled by a steam engine.

The 1911 atlas shows a road going through Spring Creek canyon. It is doubtful that this is the route taken by the wagons as road building equipment was still fairly primitive. It is more likely that they hauled their loads down the Crescent grade to the Long Lake bench and then down the remaining grade in the Spokane River canyon to Little Falls.

Map: 1909 Sanborn Insurance Map from the Library of Congress. Unloading photo was from a miscellaneous collection held by the Reardan Memorial Library. The photos of a dam part in transit are from the Clayton photo collection held by the Reardan Memorial Library.