Nov 27, 2012

On the Burlington Northern standardization was everything....or was it?

Remember back in 1976 when America had a birthday party? The BN did up a number of locos in red, white and blue to honor those days. The lead unit is a Generals Electric, the middle unit is a General Motors. I wonder what the General's name was that ran them into the yard?
Flat nosed power was what the BN F45s were. It was an SD45 in a shroud so the employees did not have to walk outside the engine especially in cold or snowy, slippery weather.
Another oddity was the 7149 in a paint scheme all by itself as no other unit looked like this. The reason was it was built to run on LNG gas but it proved unsuccessful for some reason and now it is just another 3600 hp SD45.
 When a unit gets into a wreck the railroad could spend a lot of money rebuilding it or go economical. The 7500 was in a wreck and they rebuilt it without the cab part which has a lot of expensive stuff in it. Now its a B unit so another engine tells it what to do as it labors away as a trailing unit.
The BN painted up 2 of these Heritage locos with locos to promote safety especially at grade crossings with automobiles. Lots of people are careless or want to commit suicide and the train crew pays the price  to witness the carnage.  Its like Peter Rabbit versus Godzilla. Don't bet any money on Peter.
Around 1990 when the F units were done on the railroad some executive decided that having a few of the old timers around as power for the Executive Train would be a good idea. I agree. Nice way to travel around on your railroad too!

Nov 26, 2012

Visiting the Inland Empire back in the good old long as you don't count in outdoor plumbing!

No, Hurricane Sandy did not get to Coeur d'Alene last week but quick melting of snow in the mountains can make its own problems for people who live near the lake. The Coeur d'Alene Hotel that currently stands would be behind the larger structure. We now have dams to mitigate this problem most of the time.
I think this is a photo op for the photographer as the guy in the cab is also in there on close up shots as well. This rock can be found just north of the Spokane River on Division St. It is also paved and is 8 lanes wide.  The car is no longer there.
 Here we have a 4 car trolley leaving downtown Spokane heading east. The GN tower is in the background behind the pole. The tracks are all gone and this area is now all buildings, mostly for the educational centers that is a big deal for Spokane.
The trolley is crossing the original Northern Pacific main line through Spokane at the turn of the century ( 1900 ) In 1914 the NP elevated the entire line through town and is now the BN/ BNSF main line through the Northwest. The current Amtrak station is where the passenger cars are located.

Nov 24, 2012

Visiting the GN shops in Hillyard 40 years ago.

Here I am in the middle of the repair shops at Hillyard and no one is yelling at me to get out. I guess I was not a terrorist threat back then!  The first time I saw BN green is that engine to the right in the primer green undercoat.
In 1967 GN introduced a new color for their railroad in the form of Big Sky Blue. It was not received well by most of the GN fans. This is the view from the GN control tower base on the west side of the tracks.
During a 1970 NRHS Convention we got to visit the control tower and this mostly Big Sky engines are coming in from Seattle, passing through the yard before heading east again. 
A big deal for the facility was this transfer table that could move engines and cars between different buildings.
This shot was taken from the Francis Ave. overpass with a 300 mm lens back in the good old days.  The control
tower can be seen in the background. The main lines were to the far right of the photo. BN switcher does the work so the yard may have 2 more years to survive when I took this photo in 1972.
The GN herald on the building came down right after the BN merger was announced. Can't have any of that
heritage stuff surviving! The SP&S Railroad used Hillyard exclusively except for the 2 FA's that hung out
at Parkwater yards for the Scribner turn when cars were picked up or dropped off in Marshall Canyon for the NP.
The passenger station to the right was moved to the Spokane Valley and made into an unsuccessful
restaurant and is still there in poor repair. It was hauled by a moving company over Bigalow
Gulch and I have pictures to prove it.
Different eras of power are shown here as the blue unit is from the 50s and the big orange unit is a
passenger unit from the late 60s. The small box to the rear is a clue for the steam generator unit.
Looking north from the Francis Avenue bridge shows how big the yard was and it had a hump in the middle. The crews always had to be aware that cars can roll out either end if not carefully set with brakes. The Western Fruit Express repair shops are on the slight rise to the right of the photos. Sometimes it snows in Spokane.
Looking south on a much better day shows the cattle pens that were there. The tracks that angled off to the left are in the repair tracks. Look how they used to haul wood with banding on groups to hold them in place. Where's OSHA?

Nov 23, 2012

In the beginning....there was nothing!

In the beginning there was plywood and plans and imagination of what could we create in this 25 by 60 foot room.
The back half of the room did not look like much near the end of 2008 as we tried to use as much space for a model railroad that we dared to put into this place.
Pete puts in his time doing cork roadbed and track. Future Mount Whitney will be behind him and the Blue Main yard will be near the camera. November 2008.
Terry Frank checks measurements on the front portion of the layout. Those old sofas are long gone!
Merry Christmas from the Spokane Valley Fire Department! On Dec. 26th 2008 We got a phone call saying there was a fire in our club room and when I arrived I saw smoke coming out of the roof. Luckily it was next door that had the problem in some exhaust vent that overheated from the vent being clogged with snow.  That hose will put a tear in our awning!  We all thought it was the end! Not quite!
We survived the fire, the Fire Department, a bad economy, the glass store front, a poorly designed bathroom, keeping funds in the checkbook and kept disagreements to a minimum. Not bad for a bunch of kids no matter what our age shows on our licenses.

Nov 22, 2012

Memembering the Milwaukee Road station in Missoula

38 years ago I chased the last of the Milwaukee electrics into Missoula and focused on the train rather than the background. I was with my 9 year old son Jerry Jr and he shot the similar shot from the stairs that led down to the tracks. Yes he had a 35 mm camera as well. The date is June 8, 1974.
This past weekend I traveled back to Missoula with my daughter Bonnie and son-in-law Kent to see the University of Montana play their state rivals.  Before the game started we were walking around downtown and I thought wouldn't it be neat ( do people still say that? ) if I took photos of the old station at or near the same spot I did back in 1974? Well here it is completely restored and still in use but not as a railroad station. The tracks were gone
back in May of 1980 and the railroad was gone except parts of it were absorbed by Midwest railroads.
The backside looks pretty good as well except those darn kids keep getting in my photos! Can you tell which one is my daughter Bonnie? Can you tell which one played linebacker for the U of M and the Jets?
Missoula still has an active train station but not for travelers, Amtrak does not come this way west as they gave up the NP line in favor of the Great Northern line further north. If Mike Applegate is correct I may have had something to do with saving this station when we tried to save the Spokane GN and UP stations
and failed. Mike thinks the noise we made in Spokane had an effect on the BN president at the time and they saved Missoula, Helena, Tacoma, Livingston and others when they realized people still thought they were worth saving. Its a nice thought but I would need to see BN documents to prove it to me.
Missoula has the foresight to save one of NP's 4-6-0's and it looks like it could still pull a few cars around at 60 mph down the line.

Nov 20, 2012

We are tearing up the Evergreen layout!

At least part of it that needs to be changed for the track work in the port district. Jim Bowden chisels out the scenery stuff that is the way of the new south end track approach to the port district. Progress must go on!
Burt handles the north end so the track approach is smooth to the port facilities.
Look at this thing. I don't understand it but our resident electrical Guru Allan made this "machine' to control the Blue line where it goes from double track in the front and back of the layout to single track along the east wall. It will not allow a train to enter the circuit if there is a train already in the circuit.  Therefore no head on's in the single track area. Brilliant! I don't understand it but its still brilliant.
These pieces are designed to go near the switch controls for the controlled single track. I still don't understand it as I am from New Jersey!

Nov 18, 2012

Taking a ride on the Alaska Railroad.

A visitor stopped by today and asked if he could run his new Alaska RDC on our railroad layout. No one was working on the track work so I asked the guys who were there if it was alright with them. Everyone was good for the idea so we let me run this single unit passenger train.
I think Alaska had 5 of them and it was regrettable that Jim Bowden left early not to see his favorite railroad running on his turf. Our scenery must be close to what the real train riders see when they travel through the real Alaska!
There is even a photographer at the near side of the bridge covering the event as it made its way on the Green branch.
Here we have the 701 stopping at a train station to take on more customers in hopes of seeing bears and moose and other wild life on the ride.
The RDC labors a bit with the grades to reach the top of Mt Whitney. It would not be a good time to derail as the ground is a long way down.
The Alaska RDC passes a silver mine on the top of some God forsaken mountain where men work day and night to pay their taxes for the man. I don't remember the man's name that visited us but we hope he comes back soon.

Nov 16, 2012

When Spokane was a railroad town

I was searching the archives and I ran across maps that Hugh Ebright photographed some 3 years ago from a collection of map grids from a relative of his.

Spokane was loaded with tracks when I got here in 1967. In 1907 we had the longest electric railroad in the world owned by a single corporation called the

Spokane and Inland Empire that ran south from Spokane to Colfax and Moscow, Idaho. It the line going to the bottom right of the photo. We had Interurbans, cable cars, trolleys and 5 major railroads. Not bad for a medium sized town in the middle of the Northwest.
I have others showing Hillyard, Parkwater, Fort Wright, NP tower complex, etc. Fascinating!