Sep 22, 2012

The Spokane, Coeur d'Alene & Palouse Railroad‏

Back in the day when a Spokane citizen wanted to visit a girlfriend 70 miles away in Moscow, Idaho or Colfax, Washington they could walk there, ride there on a horse and wagon or take the SC&P . To get there you needed  to cross the Rock Creek Trestle, an adventure unto itself.

When leaving Spokane the riders went past this frequency changing station that converted electricity to AC to DC or the other way around. This building still stands as a condo apartments near Liberty Park in East Spokane.

After passing the building there was a 5 mile grade to deal with that went up the north face of the South Hill that you can still see today. Altamont Road has a bike trail bridge crossing it where the railroad bridge was. It proceeded east then started heading south near Glen Aire Road is today. The right of way can be seen on the west side of   Mountain and made its way to the south side as it went downgrade near Big Rock Road and into the Palouse region. Spokane was loaded with railroads, trolley lines, interurbans even cable cars ran up the South Hill. Luckily we gone rid of it all.

 Did I mention that it sometimes snows around here?

Now I am starting to really miss the BN.

Could this be a 50 year old switch engine?  It sure could if you consider the year the engine was originally built in. The 6297 is a control cab for hump yard service down in Pasco. It was built from an old Great Northern SD 9 and they added the switcher cab to control the engine it is attached to. 6297 does not have an engine but the other engine gives power to the traction motors of the switcher. No vibration and plenty of pulling power at low speeds.
1976 was a big year for our country and the railroads. Our 200th anniversary was celebrated by many railroads with many painting one or more units in patriotic colors. See 2 together was a rare theat.
Today we think of the mighty BN as a main line hauler but here we have a old Geeps hauling cars up a steep hills on the Camas Prairie Railroad they got in the merger. Those trestles on the hill are where they are going.
The mid 1980s BN got into the business of leasing 100 LMX locos from GE. They also leased a similar amount from EMD in the form of SD60s lettered for Oakway. I have not seen either one in years.
The wide nosed F45s were a favorite of mine as they seemed to have lots of muscle and character. They are all gone as well. This one just entered the Marshall Canyon heading west.

Big locomotive on tiny tracks

When big is mentioned in model railroading this Union Pacific DD40A Centennial locomotive should be on the top of the diesel list. Back in 1969 I saw my first one at the Golden Spike celebration in Ogden, Utah. It was so new the paint was barely dry. They took 2 GP40 engines and put it in one long carbody with the thinking they just doubled the horsepower of a single loco. So what could be the downside to that thinking?

Lloyd was running this 32 car coal train today (Sunday) and as you can see the difference in length to a normal diesel.  The downside to this thinking was when one engine failed they had 2 engines out of service. They lasted about 20 years before they were retired. There is still one in the UP Historical collection along with the operating UP 8444 Northern and the 3985 Challenger, a smaller version of the Big Boy.

What's up with Canada?

When I think of Canada and the railroads that run up there I think of the Great White North, remember those Canadian comedians on TV.  I think they were comedians.
Here we have an ancient wedge snowplow clearing the main with a GP9 and a caboose to help the crew with long hours
and a place to rest

Did you know they had bridges up there? Really big bridges in some places. But what are those foreign locomotives doing in the middle of the power set?

Photo taken near Morant's Curve . Is it possible to take a bad photo up there? Even in inclimate weather?

Once upon a time Canada had a bunch of steam engines and in the cold weather they are even more spectacular!

Years ago, on my way to Calgary you would see a bunch of prairie towers for grain every 20 miles or so. Now most or all of them have been torn down and replaced with something, I don't know. Maybe trucks.

Electric Locomotives of the West

Over the past 3 years I have been working with Chuck Heimerdinger and here is the reason why. Chuck was young enough/smart enough to realize the changing tides of American railroads. Steam was disappearing and so was everything else. We took his 10,000 collection of large format slides and turned them into CD images. 

In the early 60s Chuck made it up to Washington State from California and caught a number of Milwaukee electrics in the Cascades and further east. A four unit Boxcab set makes its way east after crossing the Cascade Mountains. Pay no attention to the diesel!

Do you know where this bridge is?  I bet you have passed under it a number of times if you live in the Northwest. Back in 1960 it was off the beaten track but now Interstate 90 goes right under it. Alas no tracks are now on the bridge as the Milwaukee Road gave up the west in 1980 and pulled the track and the overhead wires as it abandoned over 1000 miles of railroad.

There were only 5 of these unique electrics in the world and the Milwaukee Road owned all of them. They were built to haul the Hiawatha from Othello to Seattle, Washington back in the good old days. The steam is coming
from a steam boiler for the heat for the passenger cars. The snow comes from somewhere else.

Another electric success story was the Butte, Anaconda and Pacific. They got to the first two names but never made it to the Pacific. Its primary job was to haul ore to the smelter at Anaconda and made copper with the ore. I'm gonna catch hell if I'm wrong about that. I once had a headlight from the 56 engine.

If you are going to have overhead wires then you need an overhead wire car to fix stuff. I assume the platform was insulated for the safety of the workers. The BA&P is long gone. I wonder why?  Do you like these photo history lessons from my photo collection? Let me know.


Next time take the trolley

This is how the folks in Spokane got around back in the good old days on the Spokane trolley system. The Inland Empire Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society rescued a derelict trolley body from Chewelah and replaced most of it by using the old body for templates to make the new part. This is at the Spokane County Fairgrounds and it will be moved to a new site in Reardon, Washington in the near future.

Another rare gem they have is this old Milwaukee Road bull nosed dump truck. This is the first time I have seen it.

 The Milwaukee Road bay window caboose has turned from orange to pink. Maybe they can repaint it back to its proper color soon. Maybe not.

The Washington State Patrol is getting large equipment for the highways of our state. At least this one is easy to identify if he was behind me.

Lastly I caught this DC3 flying around during my stop at the Fairgrounds on Friday. Its lettered for American Airlines. The DC3 designation was for passenger service and the C47 designation was for the freight version. During WW2 the military used these planes for parachute jumps. Normandy comes to mind. A lot of them were shot down before the men could jump.

How to airbrush paint a Bi-Polar or anything else. Lesson #1

This locomotive was a rare bird as only 5 were built for the Milwaukee Road's electrification between Othello and Seattle, Washington. When I got a paint job to do a one of the non-modernized versions of this locomotive I had to think how am I going to tackle such a complicated paint scheme? A certain ex-Naval aviator will not see this presentation.

First thing I did was to wash it to get any dirt, oils and fingerprints off of it from its 50 year existence. Than I used Scalecoat paint and gave the entire model a coating of Milwaukee Road orange. The model comes apart in three sections so it makes it easier to handle this flimsy model when it is not attached to itself.

I learned a trick some years ago is to waste a decal set and mark where the maroon paint needs to be masked out to so you know where to spray the paint. I masked the front and the sides using these black decals to know where I am going.

 I left the masking tape on so you can see where I was going to spray the paint. The hand rails and other appliances make for an challenging project to apply tape to a brass model.

It always looks strange when the model is not complete but when I add the black paint to the top,
it will look different again.

Now the black is added and it starts looking like the real thing as the orange was overwhelming the model. Some brush work is still needed and the final step is to add a thin black stripe between the orange and the maroon. Remember the front decals? They will be redone as the paint covered most of the decal as planned. Some road dust is also in the future. I'm doing one for myself as I do the paid job at the same time.

Yes, the model does come with wheels and they get a coating of black and later some rust and grime. Its smart to cover the motor when spraying so the owner does not have to buy a new one because of paint.
I use a telephone book as my paint base and it sits on a lazy Susan and rotates so I don't touch the models.

On the road to Arizona with the Heimerdinger

Back in the late 50's & early 60s Chuck H. started to travel far and wide to capture the rail scene. Here we have the only coal hauler in Arizona! It's the Black Mesa & Lake Powell Railroad that's electrified with modern equipment. He gets a friendly wave from the engineer.

His main goal was to find the last of the steam operations and here we have the Southwest Railway #2 with a fan trip.

 5 Santa Fe  passenger F units in silver and red have this train in hand on a long curve.

 Another train has the standard freight blue and yellow Santa Fe F units passing a passenger station. Check out the car!

Look how much has changed in this photo from 1958. The cabooses are gone, the jointed rail is gone, 40 foot box cars are hard to find, even the Tuscan brown colors are gone. The zebra stripped GP 9 was Santa Fe's freight colors at the time.


Strange but true

A visitor ( Ron's sister ) told me her daughter works for Maersk last week and I said I have a photo of an engine with that name on here it is. They did a train of Maersk containers and they needed an engine as well as Santa Fe complied to paint them for the publicity photo for their advertising. It's still working!

If you thought that was strange how about a traffic light for PCC cars down in California way. If not will they go bump in the daylight?

This engine looks strange to you? It's the trailing car of a Talgo power train set on display at the Sacramento Rail Fair event
back in 1999.  ( That was last Century?) Normally a loco is attached so it looks right.

Speaking of last Century, maybe this thing goes back in the 1890's or 2 Centuries ago. The Angel's Flight moved
folks from one street to another somewhere in downtown LA. That's in California for you out of towners.

We got strange by the trainload with this 55 Buick looking Train of Tomorrow pulling lightweight passenger cars. The cars were more like bus bodies with flanged wheels for lightweight, fuel savings,and speed. The experiment failed like Chevy Volts and solar panels.

Pretty fancy tunnel portal for the Monmouth Mining facility somewhere down south in California or Arizona. Oh, by the way the portal was built in 1936. Maintenance is kept at a minimum.

Visiting sunny Alberton, Montana

This past weekend Mike Baker and I went on a road trip to Missoula, Montana for a train Show and we stopped at what used to be a crew change for the Milwaukee Road. The station is now a community center for the town but it was still an active train station when I last visited back here in 1973

This shows an eastbound freight from the other side of the building. Now houses are all over the track and yard areas.

Somebody was thoughtful enough to save a bay window caboose for a nice museum site to remember what they used to have.

The interior looks about right when they were in service. Spartan looking comes to mind.

I'm not sure what is was but I would guess that it was a short 60 foot baggage car. Whatever the historical value it had is long gone.

Across the street are bars and a restaurant plus a very large book store.