Friday, February 28, 2014

February 28, 2014: Anxiety

Down in the canyon below Wellington, laying amongst the fragmented remains of a passenger car is this seat frame.  Who sat here 104 years ago?  Did they survive?  Snowbound for nearly a week, the person in this seat was confined by the weather to this car and an unpleasant hike to the Bailets Hotel for food.  By now this person was hearing rumors of the railroad snowplows being stalled, rumors of food supplies running low, rumors of slides coming down off the surrounding mountains.  The person who sat here might very well been warm and fed, but was far from being comfortable.  As this person sat, wiping the frog off the window and peering into the darkness of this night, they could see the snow turning to rain.  With it, was this passenger's anxiety turning to fear?

Thursday, February 27, 2014

February 27, 2014: Silence

104 years ago the giant wheels of the Great Northern's fleet of steam rotary plows sat silent, stalled in the snow, cut off from fuel and water.  The only hope to get Stevens Pass open had failed. The will of Mother Nature had proved stronger than the combined wills of men and their machines. Trains 25 and 27 remained her captive at Wellington.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

February 26, 2104: Pettit Would Understand

A few winters back I caught this scene at Berne, near the rail summit of Stevens Pass.  A broken rail ahead had the westbound Empire Builder waiting for the repairs.  Having experienced power problems earlier the train was already running late and making the last leg of the trip over the Cascades with but one locomotive.  Now this, in the latest serious of delays had the train's conductor pacing, wanting to get his train and his charges into Seattle quickly and safely. 

I couldn't help but wonder; was the spirit of Joe Pettit, the conductor of ill-fated Train 25 also here giving an all knowing and understanding look?  104 years ago, he too was stalled just past the summit of Stevens Pass in a small town named Wellington.  He too only wanted to get his train moving and his passengers down off the mountain safely.

The little drama presented here ended well.  Within an hour the Empire Builder was once again moving west.

Pettit and 35 of his passengers were not so fortunate.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

February 25, 2014: Piling Up

As storm after storm blows off the Pacific and slams into the Cascades, the snow keeps piling up.  Not at all unlike what was taking place on Stevens Pass 104 years ago.

Monday, February 24, 2014

February 24, 2014: Safe Passage

The westbound Empire Builder slips out of the confines of the Cascade Tunnel into a gathering snow storm, its riders warm and safe as the train makes yet another easy passage across Stevens Pass.  Passengers 104 years ago were not so lucky.  Up in the clouds above today's train is where the town of Wellington once stood, where passengers of Great Northern #25 sat stuck in just such a storm.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

February 23, 2014: When the Snow Gets Deep

An eastbound train climbs through a small canyon of snow cleared from the tracks by the snow dozer working in the distance.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

February 22, 2014: Heading East

An interesting combo of power leaves Auburn, Washington eastbound in a downpour.  Ahead, a stormy night crossing of Stampede Pass.

Friday, February 21, 2014

February 21, 2014: Collision Course

Railroading in the West; where steel and mountains collide.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

February 20, 2014: Putting Out Feed

Morning at Conway Feed has Rich Gilbert in the texture room looking close at a formula work sheet in preparation to sending another load of feed out the door.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

February 19, 2014: The Haymow

When we were kids, the haymow above the barn was a great playground.  It was a place to build forts and tunnels, to jump off piles of baled hay into piles of loose.  Then we grew up.  The once playground became a place where you sweated in heat, sneezed on dust, and where your arms got scratched stacking the endless lines of bales coming off the elevator.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

February 18, 2014: The Manure Ramp

There was a time every barn had one; an inclined ramp out the backdoor that lead to the manure pile.  This is the manure ramp behind my grandfather's barn, with Grandpa himself pushing yet another wheelbarrow load up to the pile.  When you consider the barn was build in 1909, and this photo was taken in 1975, just how many tons of shit did Grandpa push up that ramp over the years?

Monday, February 17, 2014

February 17, 2014: Real or Toy?

Looking down from Windy Point on the old Great Northern line to Wellington, trains on the new alignment through Scenic look like an N-scale model.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

February 16, 2014: Farmer Fix

A mechanic once told me the two most dangerous tools in the hands of a farmer were a torch and a welder.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

February 15, 2014: Pitching the Rot

There are so many just really crappy jobs that need to be done to keep a dairy farm running.  Pitching the layer of rot off the top of a silage stack rates right up there with the worst of them.

Friday, February 14, 2014

February 14, 2014: Love Birds

Two ravens pause from picking up kernels of grain dropped by passing hopper cars long enough to exchange a "peck."

Thursday, February 13, 2014

February 13, 2014: The Conway and Western

Who says it takes a locomotive to move a car?  A John Deere tractor pulls a hopper car along the spur at Conway Feed, also termed the "Conway and Western."

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

February 12, 2014: Here's Why

Yesterday we saw that Rocky the Mountain Goat was keeping an eye to the east, up towards the pass.  Maybe this passage of a westbound freight through an ever increasing snow storm is why.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

February 11, 2014: Keeping an Eye on the Mountain

Rocky the Mountain Goat, longtime symbol of the Great Northern Railway, stands sentential in Skykomish. Looking east, he keeps a close watch on the trains crossing Stevens Pass.

Monday, February 10, 2014

February 10, 2014: Spring Fog

It takes a certain formula, a fresh plowed field, a quick spring shower, than a warm spring sun, all in rapid succession.  The result is "spring fog."

Sunday, February 9, 2014

February 9, 2014: Regrets

Here's a shot I took back in high school of then my best friend, Jim Goldberg.  Like is so often the case, once we graduated our lives took us different directions and we never saw each other.  I kept thinking we should get back together, so a few years back I finally made a concerted effort to locate Jim, only to find out he had passed away months earlier.  I envy those who say they have no regrets.  Me....I've got a few.

Friday, February 7, 2014

February 8, 2014: The Brakeman

Felt hat with a union button, switch list in the pocket of his mackinaw, cigarette dangling from the corner of his mouth, little doubt this man is a brakeman.

February 7, 2014: The Good Earth

Can't you just smell it?  That musty odor of fresh soil rolling off a plow.  The good earth....God bless every inch of her.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

February 6, 2014: Bovine Pedicure

A dairyman carefully trims and shapes the hooves of one of his cows.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

February 5, 2014: Childhood Vaccination

Getting your fingers licked by a calf.  Farm kids are lucky, they have the best childhood vaccination program.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

February 4, 2014: The Shops

In the engine house of a short line not only are there very large spare parts, but the outlines of tools used by mechanical craftsmen in the railroad's past.

Monday, February 3, 2014

February 3, 2014: Warmth

Even with temperatures in the high 80's during the day, it gets cold up in the Rockies on those clear nights.  Cold enough that nothing defines warmth better than feeling the sun's first rays after a night of car camping up on the Divide.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

February 2, 1970: Remembering Mom

My mom would have been 83 today.  She died just shy of 4 years ago.  I'm sure the Old Man and my sisters have different memories of her, but this is mine;  in a house dress, busily putting home cooked food on our table in our little house in Tacoma. 

Saturday, February 1, 2014

February 1, 2014: Bypassed

They lined the two-lanes that brought on the automobile age.  Every little town bisected by a US 10, or 2, or even a 66 had a diner or two.  When "US" was replaced with the single letter "I" the little towns were bypassed, and with them their diners.  A few survived, most were handed the same fate as the Sportsman Diner in Easton, Washington.