May 20, 2013

The Greatest Show on least the Spokane Valley!

When I walked into the club on Saturday and found Steve Welton running 2 new passenger trains on the layout. They were the Rio Grande California Zephyr and the Santa Fe El Capitan each with 12 or 13 cars each.
Each had 4 F units on the point and all the cars were detailed and lighted. They seem to be the best models ever made and not much more can be done to make them better. I asked Steve how much did he spend on them and he started to tear up. I won't ask him again.
The Cal Zephyr lasted a few more years after Amtrak started and was a feature train for railfans during that time.
Steve also ran a "poor man's freight train with only 2 F units. They were both sounded and pulled about 20 reefers.
I originally started shooting it in the darkness with most of the club's overhead lights off.  Alas less light makes for less photo quality.
Is the Blue line out of business? They have no freight cars in the yard so has business dropped off so much that all cars are gone? Strange?

May 17, 2013

The new wall

Father Philippi Pesek is giving a blessing to the new wall at the Evergreen Railroad. Phil is not an official pastor but it looks like he is preaching to the followers when I took this photo of the new display. We took down the train cabinet as it was not being used and reset the photos and maps.
Three of the 4 different railroads that are shown and they all feature orange in their color scheme! This scene happens by accident and got the members to redo it for the photo!
New member Don Carnegie does a bit of switching in the Bakersville yard with his Milwaukee Geep. Don is the one who owns the Model T car I showed few months back that has the Milwaukee Road logo on the hood.
We can safely say Don is a Milwaukee Road fan.
The new branch line in front of the club got one step closer as Allan glued down the cork roadbed to hold them in place where the glue dried.

May 10, 2013

Club news

One man works while the other "officials" look on. Let's see... we have legal council and the safety director looking on as Burt adds ballast to the Blue Mains.  Once the far reaching stuff is done then the other guys can come in and do the track work and the installation of the buildings  to the port district.
The train club is loaded with a bunch a AIco-haulics!  I brought in a collection of Alco locomotives to see how they would work and lined them up for posterity. The real American Locomotive Company went out of business in the US back in 1969. I still like the looks of the PA models. What's that E unit doing here? 
Our track cleaning train moved up on notch to completion when I finished painting the track car that actually cleans track. Our 3rd loco for this club set is now in the paint shop as the 2nd one had too many mechanical problems like the motor burning out the chip and cracked gears.
Our new addition was added by Allan this week to give us another industry to the club's layout. This is right by the front door and Al plans to photograph the Spokane Valley from Mica Peak on a sunny day and use the Spokane Valley as his backdrop to the scenery. Stay tuned. Better than a coat rack!

May 6, 2013

Wenatchee Museum Layout, Train Disasters, and a Mountain Ghost Town

The Wenatchee Washington Museum features a layout profiling some of the history - and disasters - involving the railway and the industry of central Washington State.

Wenatchee was an important city for the Great Northern as a generator of produce traffic as the Apple Capital of the World and a key division point for their Northwest network. The city is located 100 miles east of Seattle and 170 miles west of Spokane.
  Situated along the mighty Columbia River; to the west are the Cascade Mountains where severe grades had to be overcome by the Great Northern.
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first attempt to cross the Cascade Mountain range was a 'switch back' system that used steam engines to 'see saw' their way back-and-forth, slowly, up and over the Cascade mountain range.  This crude approach was inexpensive to construct, but ultimately proved unsatisfactory.  A 2 mile tunnel with electric overhead was installed to eliminate the majority of the switchbacks and make the crossing of the range more efficient.   On the western end of this tunnel, the small stop of Wellington was created.

In 1910, well before auto emissions could be used as an excuse for every change in the weather, Mother Nature took out its
fury on the intrusion of man into its domain.   At Wellington  (Later renamed Tye, and abandoned) where the snow was falling at a foot a day - and despite the best efforts of the train crews and their steam-powered rotary snow plows - two passenger trains became trapped at the top of the grade.  Unfortunately, when the avalanche came, it took out the town, the locomotives, cars, and the lives of 100 passengers and workers (this story is well documented in the excellent book "White Cascade" which is available on Amazon).
Following this disaster, the GN built the 8 mile Cascade tunnel to avoid the snow slides and severe grades. The Wenatchee Historical Society has a model to show what it was like 100 years ago.
An early steam engine makes its way past the old switch backs that were hundreds of feet in higher elevation than the new 2 mile Cascade Tunnel.  More elevation means a lot more snow to deal with in  the winter. Most of the trees were used to build the trestles and snow sheds so watch out!
On the opposite ( east ) end of the Cascade Tunnel was Cascade yard . It was not much of a yard but it had enough room for several sidings to hold trains waiting their turn to go west into the tunnel.
Here is where the snow slides hit at Wellington in February 1910. It snowed for several days at 1 foot of snow per hour soon the hillsides were ready to slide and into this tiny hamlet of civilization. Passenger cars, electric box motors, work cars, rotary plows, steam engines. Anything and everything including the hotel, crew quarters, etc.... Some of the passengers wanted to be backed into the tunnel but the officials said would be uncomfortable (smoke inhalation)!  There is a summer road that goes to this spot as a State Park with relevant information for you to understand. The concrete snow sheds are still there.
Martin Creek tunnel was several miles west of Wellington and they needed to reduce altitude so many tunnels and bridges were needed to get lower into the valley. When I first saw this layout some 20 years ago I was impressed with the scenery and it encouraged me to do it as well.
19 years later the GN finished the 8 mile tunnel at great expense and here at the west portal (used by BNSF and Amtrak today ) we see the steam engine on the old right of way and the diesels coming out of the new 8 mile tunnel. You can drive near this spot and see for yourself.
The Wenatchee Museum is easy to find in the middle of downtown Wenatchee and I encourage you to see it for yourself.

May 5, 2013

What's new on the Evergreen Railroad?

Baldwins, that's what is new as few members bring in Baldwins for me to make something out of their smoking tendencies. Keith Wiles, a BNSF engineer, brought these beauties down to the club on Thursday along with his wife who celebrated her birthday with an ice cream cake with the members.  Congratulations Wanda!
Chad Geissler who was voted in as a permanent member last week had his CN steamer working past the Union Station at Cobbleton. Chad says he plans to turn it into a Southern Pacific steamer as that is his favorite road. I'm sure Chuck Heimerdinger will be his technical advisor on this project!
Look at this beautiful caboose that comes straight out of the box this way! The details are perfect along with a working safety light that needs to know which way its going through the DCC system. I suppose there is a tiny conductor in there doing paperwork as well!

Valleyford celebrates the S&IE Railroad that served it many years ago.

The little town of Valleyford located south of Spokane used to have railroad service some 60 years ago yet the town still remembers the good times.  They put on a show with the local town folks with memories on how they got on the train to go to the big city of Spokane back in 1940 at the cost of 35 cents.  They had a group of 4 kids doing music of the day and many were in costume for the event. We had 2 sessions with standing room only and it was fun.
I tried to keep my presentation on the Spokane & Inland Empire Railroad that had about 140 miles of track with overhead wires and it was the modern way to run a railroad. They ran about 6 passenger trains a day as well as several freight trains that served the Palouse Empire including Moscow, Idaho and Colfax, Washington. I showed my photo CD collection along with maps and models.
Noted historian Charlie Mutchler followed up on the finer details of why they built it and how they did it. We had German officials in 1908 studying the line shown in the photo on the table to see what they could bring back to do it in the Fatherland. It was an enjoyable day for everyone including my wife who sat in on the first presentation, and she is not a railfan!

May 4, 2013

Show time for the Spokane & Inland Empire Railroad.

I was asked to make a presentation to the Valleyford Historical Society tomorrow ( Saturday May 4th ) at 11 am and again at 1 pm.  I will do the history of the line that ran from downtown Spokane to Moscow and Colfax, Washington from the turn of the century to around 1960. The line was electrified even through the Great Northern era. 

I will have photos, models and a CD photo presentation with my collection that I acquired many years ago.
It's happening at the Valleyford Coffee Shop on Old Palouse Highway 12212 E. Palouse Hy, which is about 1.5 miles from Highway 27 ( take Pines Road to Old Palouse Hy - go west )

We both might learn something about Old Spokane and what made
it grow in the early days.