Monday, April 18, 2011

Railfanning the Washington, Idaho and Montana Railway Company

Well, I see that all of the photos I posted earlier have disappeared.

Hopefully, these won't disappear.  Someday, I might be able to resurrect the missing photos, but that won't happen for a while.

So, on to the the WI&M.

Conceived in 1903 to haul raw timber and finished lumber for its owner, the Potlatch Lumber Co., the WI&M provided essential transportation for the entire region. The railroad exchanged freight and passengers with three other railroads; the Northern Pacific and Great Northern at Palouse, Wa, and the Milwaukee Road at Bovill, Id.

The WI&M is still operating as the W&I, having given up its' pretensions to connect in Montana.

We'll start in Palouse, WA, at the site of the old W, I&M station.

The old station was built about where the travel trailer and truck are located.

Another look here.  Note that the trailer is still there, but the truck is gone.  The bulkhead flatcars are in the same location, as well.

Next, we will look south along the route of the Great Northern RR.  The trestle is gone, but the concrete pillar is still there.

 Looking north from down below.

Looking down from the automobile bridge in the above photo, we see the site of the GN depot, gone since 1970 when the Burlington Northern was formed.  The station was located at the top end of the old roadbed, it the wide spot.  If you look hard, you can see the concrete pillar discussed above.

Still standing on the bridge, but now looking north, we can see where the GN wye was located.  Locomotives, or even short trains could have their direction of travel reversed, here.

One of the interesting things about the WI&M is the street running in Palouse.

Looking east...

And, looking west...

More, later...

Friday, May 7, 2010

Snowplowing on the CR&TN

The first snow that I was able to take advantage of occurred on the morning of November 2, 2004.  Awaking to the first snow of the year at my usual 0500, I grabbed the camera and rushed out to record the event.  I could not wait for the sun to join in, because the weather report indicated that the snow would not hang around, long.  As I recall, the temperature was 34 degrees F, as I headed out the door.

Plowing that morning was supervised by that old hand, Inigo Montoya, the cat.  In the consist were Great Northern 410, an SD-45 from Aristocraft, and Great Northern 702, a GP-9 from USA Trains.

Plowing across the plain at Plain, WA.  I was really surprised at how efficient this consist really was.  Of course, 5 pounds of gravel ballast in the plow did not interfere.

The bridge at Nason Creek.

A job well done, and "Now it's Miller Time."

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Chumstick River and Tumwater Canyon Railway Company

In 1991, I wrote the history of the Chumstick River and Tumwater Canyon Railway Company, as a basis for my then O gauge 3-rail layout in the basement. The name and the concept carried over to the first iteration of my garden railway, in 2002. I used that concept for the next 4 years, to guide my building of an outdoor model railroad. Notice that I said, "outdoor model railroad," not "garden railroad," as I am more interested in the operation of a model railroad than trains tiptoeing through the tulips. My lovely bride, Diana has the garden railroad. That they exist in the same time/space makes for some interesting conversations around the dinner table.

What follows is the story of the Chumstick River and Tumwater Canyon Ry Co:

The Chumstick River and Tumwater Northern Railroad

A History

Steven Featherkile

The golden spike on the Chumstick River and Tumwater Northern Railroad was driven on July 4, 1884, near what is now Cole’s Corner, Washington, after more than three years of carving a roadbed out
of the basalt rock in the Tumwater Canyon. Originally established as a thirty inch narrow gauge road serving the mining and timber interests in the Cascade Mountains north and west of Wenatchee, Washington, the CR&TN became a major contributor to the economic health of North Central Washington, and a source of pride to the early residents of the area, carrying freight and passengers for over sixty years.

Because of grade problems, the C
R&TN was a one-way loop from Leavenworth to Lake Wenatchee following the Chumstick River. The return route was laid down following Nason Creek, and then through the Tumwater Canyon along the Wenatchee River to serve the mines in the canyon. There was a branch line that went to the head of Lake Wenatchee along the North Shore, and then part way up the White River to White River Falls, to serve the mining and timber interests in that area. The CR&TN never did push beyond the falls as it was not economically feasible to get above the Falls. The falls was just too high, and the “way around” was too long. There wasn’t much timber beyond the falls, and what mines there were could bring their ore down by wagon.
In 1889, the Great Northern Railroad leased trackage rights through the Tumwater Canyon. In the agreement, the GN was required to maintain it, but the right-of-way remained the property of the CR&TN. Included in the agreement was the stipulation that any changes made would allow the CR&TN to use the Tumwater Canyon, resulting in a rather strange, but not all that uncommon, three rail arrangement. As engineering techniques improved, the GN was able to do away with the switchback and tunnel method employed by the CR&TN, replacing it with track that had a maximum 2.2% grade. In 1929, with the opening of the Great Northern's Cascade Tunnel, the line through the Tumwater canyon was electrified.
By 1912, it became obvious that with the mines closing and the timber almost gone, a new cargo had to be developed if the CR&TN was to survive. In September of that year, borrowing a page from Jim Hill’s playbook, two hundred acres of apple trees were planted near Chiwaukum, Washington, where the Chiwaukum Creek flows into the Wehatchee River. This was marvelously successful, and by 1920, additional acreage had been planted such that the entire Wenatchee River, Chiwaukum, Chiwawa, and Chumstick Vallies were covered with fruit trees. With the maturing in 1916 of the original trees that had been planted in 1912, the continued success of the CR&TN was assured.

In 1925, the thirty inch narrow gauge track was replaced with standard gauge track so that other railroads’ rolling stock could be used in the Chumstick Valley, and the third rail that had existed in the Tumwater Canyon was removed. During the Depression years following 1929, business along the CR&TN slowed somewhat, but unlike most small railroads of that era, it survived, due to good management, the apple and a large measure of luck.

During World War II, the Chumstick River and Tumwater Northern merged with the Great Northern Railroad. There was a minor squabble among the principals of the two railroads as to which name would be used. History shows that the Great Northern finally won out, but what is not reported in most texts is that a game of Ship, Captain and Crew played over several six packs of Olympia Beer in the Bar of the Squirrel Tree Resort at Cole’s Corner decided the issue (and now, you know The Rest of the Story). The CR&TN passed into history on July 21, 1944. The Great Northern Pacific, Burlington and Santa Fe Railroad (usually called the BNSF) still uses the original roadbed along the Chumstick River. The roadbed through the Tumwater was used by the GN until 1954 for its electrified Empire Builder, Oriental Limited and Western Star passenger runs, primarily for the exquisite scenery. Later, the tracks were pulled out, and the roadbed through the canyon was abandoned. US Highway 2 now occupies what was the CR&TN and the GN roadbed through the canyon.
Visitors to the Wenatchee, Washington, area can still see remnants of the CR&TC, and the later GN; the switchbacks and tunnels in the Tumwater Canyon, the apple orchards in the Chumstick, the dam in the Wenatchee River as it passes through the canyon, and the remains of the aqueduct and powerhouse near Leavenworth that supplied power to run the trains over Steven’s Pass, and the restored freight and passenger station in Leavenworth. Information can be obtained by inquiring of the Greater Wenatchee Area Tourism Commission at 124 North Chelan Avenue, Wenatchee, Washington 98801.

Author’s notes for historians: The Chumstick Creek (not River) flows through the Chumstick Valley and joins the Wenatchee River at Leavenworth. The Wenatchee River has it’s headwaters on Glacier Peak in Whatcom County as the White River and the Little Wenatchee River. These two rivers flow into Lake Wenatchee and the outflow of Lake Wenatchee is then called the Wenatchee River. Initially a meander, midway in its journey it flows through the Tumwater Canyon, usually as a raging torrent, and then slows down at Leavenworth, Washington, where it enters the upper Wenatchee Valley, a fertile fruit growing region, on its way to the confluence with the Columbia River at Wenatchee, Washington. Cole’s Corner and Plain, Washington are real place names in the area of discussion. Chiwawa Creek and Chiwaukum Creek join the Wenatchee River near Plain, Washington. Plain, Washington is actually on the Wenatchee River, not Chumstick Creek.

The Great Northern used the Tumwater until 1929, when it replaced it with a better grade through the Chumstick Valley, and the present 7.6 mile long Cascade Tunnel was built and the line was electrified from Wenatchee to Skykomish. Electrification ended in 1956. The Leavenworth passenger depot is now the Leavenworth Grange Hall, and on Friday nights the place is hopping to some great acoustic music. Admission is by donation, but get there early if you want a seat, certainly before 8:00 PM. The rugged, but handsome red brick GN depot in Wenatchee is gone now, fallen to iconoclasts. The Burlington Route(CB&Q), Northern Pacific(NP) and Spokane, Portland and Seattle(SP&S) merged with the Great Northern(GN) in 1970 to become the Burlington Northern Railroad. The BN merged with the Santa Fe to become the BNSF in 1995, and still uses the track through the Chumstick on its way over the Cascade Mountains from Chicago to Seattle.

The story of the CR&TN is a product of my fevered, flea-bitten, retired Navy mind and exists only there, in my garden and in my basement. All myths are based on fact. As the reporter said to the man who did not shoot Liberty Valance, “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.” Put another way; never let the facts interfere with a great story.

Then, in 2006, while preparing for a move to the Puget Sound area, the CR&TN was ripped from it's ballast. A week after that occurred, we decided not to move, and I survived by running on friends railroads until the spring of last year when my grandson came for a long visit while his parents completed a move to Spain, courtesy of the US Navy. His visit convinced me to get some track down.