Jul 31, 2014

What's new in the Great Southwest?

The first time I saw the 4449 Southern Pacific steam engine was in 1972 sitting in a Portland, Oregon park looking pale in her plain black paint scheme with only rust giving it color. But in a few years she would be operating again much to my surprise. Here she comes in her Daylight colors down where
she operated in California as a regular passenger unit in the war years, still running here in the early eighties.
I've been to Old Sacramento 3 times where the Central Pacific started its journey east to connect with the Union Pacific coming west back in 1869. This photo shows the changing styles of techniques between the GP9 from the 40s to the winged beauty that connected this loco with the passenger cars.
Alco products are pretty much gone from the railroad scene but this shot of the Utah Railway makes
me long for the good old days when they were around.  So where's the smoke?
If California has an Icon maybe the Pacific Electric trolleys would fit the bill. It was a huge system that dominated the commuter scene for 50 years only to be taken down by questionable tactics.
When it comes to bridges not many come close to the Feather River Bridge in Northern California with 2 bridges spanning a canyon and coming together as shown. When Alice figured out why it was taking us so long to get to Reno, Nevada on one of our trips, she was upset that this bridge was the reason.
How's this for an elevator to get up a hill?  This set up is unique as the 2 cabins work together going up and down. I don't know for sure but I think it is in Los Angeles.  Date is 1952.

Jul 30, 2014

The weird stuff seems to be gone on the U.S. railroad scene!

The Rock Island Rockets lashed together seems to say the experiment is over. It was an attempt to make passenger train costs lower but pulling bus bodies on the rails was a dismal failure.
A more conventional way to pull commuter trains was with E units in Chicago. Back then BN trains had white/orange noses for better visibility for cars and people to get out of the way.
On top of the weird list should be this odd ball where the builder took 2 switch engines and connected them with one cab so you could not tell which way was the front. Either could the engineer and that was the point working in the yard. Twice the power than a regular unit.
Common to most railroads were towers that guarded rail crossings where they were responsible for one train occupying the crossing at any one time. When two trains did...someone got killed or fired.
This Alco product had the longest nose in railroad history. They could have had a bathroom and shower in there plus a railroad reading library like we have at Evergreen!
We sometimes forget that other railroads had Little Joes other than the Milwaukee Road. Three of them went to the South Shore near Chicago in the fire sale General Electric had back in 1950 when the U.S. embargoed them from the USSR back in the good old Cold War days.
Another feeble attempt to make switch engines more engineer friendly was Alco's effort for the C-415. This one had only 1 engine with a shaft that ran through the cab to work the other truck.

Jul 8, 2014

No trespassing was done unless you count the MRL.

So this westbound finally shows up passing that old express box car and us just east of Sandpoint.
This interloper was in trail as BNSF needs every horse it can beg or borrow.
Now we arrive at the old NP station in Sandpoint waiting for the train we were chasing but this guy showed up first as he was a container train with higher priority than a mere mixed train.
Here she comes with 17,600 hp at its beck and call. This spot where the UP engine is located is the beginning of MRL trackage to Billings, Montana. The track to the left is BNSF to Bonner's Ferry and on  to Glacier Park, Montana. About one quarter mile away was that bridge I shot without a train on it!
The above shot was with my 200mm lens and now I pull back to a wide angle shot with the station included. The thrill of that amount of power passing 10 feet away is impressive.
We took US 2 back and stopped at Newport, Washington where 2 stations survived to this day. This one was the GN station that served the Empire Builder and the Western Star. Now ii is a office building.
The other station 100 feet away is the Old Milwaukee Road station that was on a branch line from  Spokane to Metaline Falls, Idaho where a mine was a good revenue for them for years. There is another station on this line at Rathrum, Idaho that is now a home for some lucky soul.

Jul 7, 2014

Wearing out the rails on the Evergreen Railroad; time for new welded rail!

This little engine changed everything. I thought I was finished with old time railroading until this beauty showed up with sound and perfection. So when you have an old engine you also need lots of box cars to pull behind it.
Typical of the 80s were SD60s and trailer trains like Mike Baker had running a while back.
Modern locos such as these monster SD 90 diesels in combined service such as we see here in Spokane on the old SI railroad, now the Union Pacific to Canada.
You don't know Jack! Well you should as he is our club mascot as he was born to one of our club member's wife and that is the first one I can recall ever.
Jack is checking out the new skirting so no more running under the layout! 
The Alaska Railroad is well represented by Jim Bowden who spent his adult life in Alaska selling electronic do-dads to the citizens of that great state.
Jim fixed my Big Boy so now it runs proudly on the layout especially when we have visitors and we want to impress them with the actions and the sounds.
Another shot of Tom Kirk's fancy Rio Grande passenger train...what no smoke...but it's an Alco!

Wishram was a railroad town!

No doubt about it, without the railroad only lonely fishermen would visit this place. But it does have a railroad and it was one of the most interesting in the west. It's the Spokane, Portland and Seattle Railroad and it sits on a wide spot along the north bank of the Columbia River in Washington State. It's hillsides are the famous columnar Basalt rock that came from volcanic activity that is hard as a rock. Wait!  It is rock! 
It was also famous for the locomotive power that SP&S featured which was Alco locos in all sizes.
Here we have an Alco in 2 forms of power with 2 axles per truck and 3 axles per truck, more HP and more traction power to get the train over the line.
A large 6 axle unit called an C-636 ( 6 axles and 3600 horsepower )starts across the Columbia heading for the Inside gateway into Oregon to connect with the Western Pacific at the Keddee Wye in California.

Jul 6, 2014

The Northern Pacific's Granite Lake Tragedy

A number of years ago Mike Applegate, Mike Lustig, Terry Frank and I visited the scene of the worst Northern Pacific
train wreck in their history where the North Coast Limited was going too fast into a 30 mile per hour curve at 70 MPH.
3 F unit locomotives left the track without making an impression on the rails and landed into the water of Granite Lake, Idaho about 50 miles east of Spokane, Washington. The year was the early 60s.
Burt and Ernie (Keith) take photos from the same spot that the passenger cars are located in the prior picture. Marvin and I stayed on the concrete support that was
the east end of the bridge.
I know the engineer and fireman were killed But I don't remember if any passengers were as well.
To the rescue was NP wrecker #45, a staple of the Northern Pacific's equipment based in Parkwater. (Spokane)
In the distance is the current NP/BN/BNSF mainline the the NP did and changed the routing to avoid this dangerous curve especially if you don't slow down enough.
The prior photo was taken about where the NP diesel is located on the bridge approach. It looked all different today and you could not find it easy if you don't have some historic reference where it is.
Editor's Note (i.e. Jerry Jr): These photos reminded me of a recent derailment on the MRL in Montana where three Boeing fuselages fell into the adjacent river: