Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Centennial

Yesterday, February 27 I went up to Skykomish for the Wellington Centennial observance. The program was organized by the Skykomish Historical Society and was hosted by Bob Kelly, clearly the ultimate authority on the avalanche. Literally, were it not for Bob, "Vis Major" would not exist. It was amazing, nearly 450 people came to listen and talk, filling the gym at the Skykomish school to capacity and then some.

Gary Krist and I were asked to speak. Gary fled the snowbound east coast and did his presentation giving an overview of the event. I did my part by reading the infamous Wellington Turkey Caper, giving the boys their moment of glory.

In the end, there as a somber moment where Gary, Bob and myself read the names of the dead. With the subtle guitar playing Ashokan Farewell, (from Ken Burns' "Civil War" PBS documentary), the names were read. I felt honored to be able to read off the names of a few of the boys I've gotten to know, Anthony John, "Al" Dougherty, the brakeman that was always in on Bob Meath's schemes, Lou Ross, Benny Jarnagan's fireman, Archie Dupy, the southern, tabacco spitting brakeman, and Joe Pettit, the conductor on Train 25 that took his duties so seriously, he died performing them. It was a little hard to read a few of those names, certainly the recent loss of my mother was in the back of my mind.

At 1:43AM tomorrow morning, it will be the official centennial of the moment 96 people died.

Here's a few shots of me doing what I like to do best, tell the Wellington story through the eyes of those who knew best what happened, the rails themselves. Thanks to Bob Harbison for the great photography!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Grand "Vis Major" Tour

Me, on a book tour...can you believe THAT "es?" Well, I's a few places where you can catch my combo one man side show/comedy/lecture/bs sessions:

Feb. 13 Northwest Railway Museum Awards Banquet, Snoqualmie Golf Club 11:00AM

Feb. 18 Monroe Public Library, Monroe, WA 7:00PM

Feb. 24 Lynnwood Public Library,Lynnwood, WA Snohomish County Historical Society 7:00PM

Feb. 26 The Author's Show webcast;

Feb. 27 Skykomish Historical Society, Skykomish, WA 11AM

March 16 Lynden Public Library, Lynden, WA 7:00PM

March 22 Bellevue Public Library, Bellevue, WA TVW Author's Hour taping, 7:00PM

March 31 Village Books, Fairhaven District, Bellingham, WA 7:00PM

April 22 James J Hill House, St. Paul MN, 7:00PM

Book your dates now, my calendar is fast filling!

Buy now,buy often!

Barnes and

Back When There Was Snow


Usually this time of year I like to post some shots of trains running through the snow on Stevens Pass. Not so this year...currently, there's no real snow to speak of. So instead I'll hearken back to years past and put up a few that have yet to see cyber space. Enjoy a little stroll through time and Cascade Cement. We'll begin down at Skykomish with the snow dozer crew getting the machine ready for a day of plowing up the westside of the hill.

I came very close to being destroyed getting this shot, but I knew I was. The second I clicked the shutter, I dove face first into the snow and behind a telephone pole. I got covered, but popped up no worse for wear.

Looking down into my viewfinder and seeing this coming at me at 35 mph is some seriously scary "es!"

Here's an oldy-moldy from about 1975. I'm up at West Scenic to catch a work train meeting a westbound with a C&S unit leading.

And here's the helper of the same train.

Hopping over to the eastside of the mountain, a westbound works up the last mile to the summit and the confines of the Cascade Tunnel.

The snow's still falling as this eastbound, just out from 8 miles of darkness, begins the long descent to Wenatchee.

Let me tell you, it's a long, cold walk up from Merritt to get one photo of a train on the Gaynor trestle in the winter, but looking back, well worth the effort.

Finally I'll end this little winter tour down at "the Slot" west of Merritt. It is a bitter cold day with the temps right around 0 but the sun is out, the sky is blue and Rocky Ridge never looked better.