Apr 30, 2014

The many faces of 4449

The 4449 was a Southern Pacific passenger train locomotive that had 8 driving wheels to move a dozen or so passenger cars over the toughest grades at speed on the railroad. It was decommissioned and became a park engine.  The first time I saw it in 1970 was in Portland, Oregon in weathered black paint and in very poor shape.
I put this shot in first as it shows the glory that a steam engine can have on a beautifully restored locomotive. This was shot in 1981 at Old Sacramento celebrating the railroad where the Central Pacific started building the line over Donner Pass in California around 1866.
The photo is taken on the Irvin bridge in the Spokane Valley as 4449 heads east to some event in the Midwest. I stepped out on a rock in the Spokane River (with slippers on as my foot had a problem) when she appeared out of the trees with 10 seconds to spare for the shot! Riblet mansion in background.
We ventured out on a railroad bridge just north of Old Sacramento in 1990 to witness a re-enactment of the Golden Spike ceremony with 4449 and 8444 doing the honors. The original locos in 1869 were tiny 4-4-0s. Look at the crowd, how did they know I was going to be there?
Probably the most amazing paint job ever is the 4449 in black and silver....with a BNSF herald on the side! The loco is a Southern Pacific model that belongs to the Union Pacific and not bitter business rival BNSF - but I still loved it. The year was 2000.
The original reason why 4449 was brought back to life was the 200th Anniversary of the United States and lots of stuff on railroads got the red, white and blue treatment. This is 1976 and the location is Santa Susana Pass along the California coast.
Looking more like a painting rather than a photograph was 4449's crossing the Columbia River at Pasco, Washington and the sun setting in the west gave it this warm glow.  The city of Portland, Oregon owns it and boy was it a treat!

Apr 29, 2014

Looking back 50 years


I drove south over the Greene St. Bridge today and saw a headlight in the distance coming west. I have a chance to get a shot in sunlight in a place I rarely shoot pictures from. As I'm walking over the bridge I saw the pile of debris in the distance and remembered what used to be here. The Spokane International "Spokane Shops" and the pile is the remains of the SI roundhouse some 50 years ago. the Spokane Community College is across the street at mission and Greens.

This is a Larry Shauver photo looking west across the turntable with only a passenger car in attendance.
The UP train is coming but still time to shot another photo looking east. The College is now visible.
The mountain looks thinner but unlogged and the tracks just pass through this area now.
The Mission crossing is in the background and it turns out it was just a yard job with 10 cars to drop off at this location. All Union Pacific trains, some with run through Canadian Pacific locomotives use this track to get to Canada or to the UP main line that goes east to west at Hinkle, Oregon.
Finally the shot I was looking for in the first place. No caboose, no friendly wave, (maybe they didn't see me in the glare of the sun behind me) plus I'm on a public bridge so no hassles today!

Apr 25, 2014

Smokin' on the railroad

We must be in Milwaukee territory as both trains are from that railroad. This low angle shot makes everything look different.
 Don had has 2 unit set of Milwaukee Road switchers doing yard work and transfer work as this coal needs to get to China to make stuff for us Americans! Ouch!
New member Marvin Sheppard has his hands full as 3 trains converge on his spot.
Marvin's pride and joy are these 2 NP GP9s passing the tower like the one they should have had
in Paradise, Montana, his hometown favorite place.
 Tom Frank ran his 2  baby BNSF Dash 8s on the Blue line as Tom has the red block waiting for something to come the other way.
 A short Milwaukee Road passenger trian stops at the Union Station in Cobbleton, Washington. as other freight trains pass on the Blue Main.
 "Chuckie Cheese" Heimerdinger stopped by last night and I noticed he was sitting under his famous Milwaukee Road photo as well.
I would vote for this photo of Chuck's to be the best Milwaukee Road photo ever taken on that railroad,. Two different electrics, Little Joes and Box Cabs converge at Dawson, Montana in 1964. It has the drama of big time railroading.  Do you agree? What would beat it?

Apr 23, 2014

Some design changes to the blog...

If you've visited this blog site before, you'll notice some differences in the blog design today!  After several years with the same format, it was time for a refresh!  But it was not change for changes sake, these changes were made to make the posts and photos easier to view and read.  I hope you like the changes!

BN at its best!

I thought BN was kind of boring when they knocked out my favorites like the GN, NP and SP&S but looking back they were kind of neat compared to today's BNSF "All Orange, all the time." Here we see the last of the F unit fleet running out the clock doing helper service on Marias Pass, Montana.
Neither rain, nor sleet or dark of night will keep railfans from their appointed tasks. Here I went out during a snowstorm to take photos of a railroad! BN Geeps are coming down the hill past the Greenwood Cemetery approaching Indian Canyon Bridge on the west edge of Spokane.  Yikes!
Many years ago I used to attend the Railfan's weekend at Essex, Montana in October to shoot the BN in very scenic locations. One of which was the 2 Medicine Bridge that has the famous barn between this bridge and US 2 and 1 mile east of East Glacier station. This was a 1/2 mile walk in on some famers cattle grazing property. Oh well, no bulls were in the area.
This time the  4 F units were on the point as helpers as the grade approaches 2 percent on Marias Pass and they need the muscle to keep moving the train.
Another Marias Pass shot this time with EMD GP60 #3155 and one of the GE B units without a cab. This location allows the backdrop to be very nice for train pictures.
Mostly forgotten by railfans were the original AC units that BN had on the property.  My oldest son Jerry Jr. was a brakie for the original westbound trek to Pasco, Washington and I was lucky to catch them on the eastbound return passing through Spokane, Washington. Everything since then has been based on the success of their design.  I really miss the BN today!

Apr 22, 2014

How did we get here?

I would guess that this photo of the front part of the layout was taken around the end of 2009. We were moving at a rate that most clubs never achieve but we wanted to "Get R Done!"! Terry Fank and Glen Krause discuss the progress. Mie Baker, Roy Wyatt and unknown in BG.
The central part of the layout shows the placement of the large rock formations with just a piece of wood to determine where the bridge will be paced. Roy Wyatt and his son Kyle did the bridges.
A recent photo taken this past year shows the current scenery in place with all the bridges, rocks, trees and the like are in place. The colors look greyer than the previous shot and I would guess it was taken during the day with real sunlight instead of just overhead lights.
This is why we do it when kids come by and just love to see what we have done.

I'm Seeing Red And I Can't Get Up!

My comments on the Northern Pacific themed event last week stirred up the folks from the north as 3 members, planned or unplanned, brought in their modern Canadian Pacific locos to put on a show last night!
Jim Bowden brings in his 2 units to Blue yard to add his cars to his power as young admirers watch his moves.
Another set passes the Titanic Ice Company best remembered for the ship that could not sink!
Spike Gorley's CP set heads for the numerous tunnels on the Evergreen layout
Giant SD90s with 6000 HO each make their way west to deliver the grain cars to the ports on the Pacific.
Union Pacific power almost ruins the theme of an all Red evening but UP and CP use each others units all the time. They keep track of the hours of use and send a check at the end of the month as to who owes what. It makes the power units more accessible and efficient in moving the goods.
What's this? The same number on 2 different engines? The paint shop forces will hear of this!

I've been working on the railroad!



That's me waving my hat at the cameraman!  The SI had cars that looked similar to this one but we can't be choosers in the model railroad world!

I've been working on some 6 or 7 SI flatcars and was wondering what I was going to put on them. I looked into my junk box and lo and behold there are a set of Athearn diesel trucks from the good old days of rubber band drive. The larger axles that handle the rubber bands look something like traction motors so I set them up as a load with oversized chain to hold them down ( plus glue ).
Then I found a pair of brass passenger car trucks and they got the same treatment. The boxes are commercial stuff from a friend of mine called Mike O'Connell who owns Chooch Enterprises.
This one shows the larger barrel axles from the rubber band drive unit and of course the chain must
have rust as a flavoring.
The Si brought cabooses from many sources including this NP brass model.  It was a struggle as to which paint scheme it would wind up in but the SI scheme won!
My S&IE electric locos wound back near the paint booth and I though how would they look on the pier and I think they look good. They needs more work and a DCC chip in each as well.
I'm doing some work for Jim Bowden on his latest project which is a 2-8-2 steamer for the Alaska Railroad but there are no decals available for them. So that means I had to "stack" the individual letters and......GET THEM STRAIGHT!!!  How did I do for an old guy? One more side to go!
Waiting in the wings is my Great Northern electric that worked the hills between Wenatchee and Skykomish, Washington in the Cascade mountains back in the days of electric operations until 1956.

Apr 17, 2014

Did you ever get to ride in a dome car?

When we were younger and traveled on the NP's North Coast Limited we stopped at Livingston, Montana on our honeymoon in 1963. here they washed the windows of the dome cars so we would have no obstruction to seeing the magnificent Rocky Mountains we will soon be in..
This NCL has 4 dome cars and a boat tail observation heading west according to the shadows on the car.
Talk about a view! In any other car you would see very little of this looking straight out the car side
windows. This is the so called "John Allen" bridge as the scenery was spectacular as we head down
the hill approaching a little town called "Butte" Montana. The butt of many jokes. Many of these rocks
looked like black eggs sunk into the land, something a deranged modeler would do on his layout.
As you approached the dome from inside the car you would see stairs leading up to the chairs. This was taken in Spokane
where 5 or 6 NP cars are preserved by Mike Gilhouse.
The NP monad is the symbol of Ying and Yang, or good and bad, hot or cold, etc. NP wanted to be the connection with the United States and the Orient.
As a railfan and modeler the dome also gave you the opportunity to shoot passing trains. This one is an NP freight train as their engines in freight service were black, yellow and red.