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  1. Hi Dave, Yes, Avery was pretty interesting the first time I saw it in '63. I'd been through it on the Milwaukee's Olympian Hiawatha in 1960, but since the train arrived at 215AM, I was zonked. My grandparents from Germany were visiting their daughter, Mom's sister, and we drove up the St. Joe from St Maries over Memorial Day weekend to pick them up for a trip to Tacoma and Mount Rainier. There were probably 300-400 people living there in 1963. Most were associated with the Milwaukee Road as it was both a division point and start of a helper district where extra engines assisted heavy freights over St. Paul Pass. It was also the western end of the Rocky Mountain Division electrification, so engines were always being worked on. It's still a 47 mile trip from St. Maries to Avery, but the road has been improved significantly. Some of the old railroad grade is now used by the Shoshone County Road Dept to gain entry to Avery from the west. The road used to be gravel for the last dozen or so miles, but now is paved all the way. It was pretty exciting meeting log trucks on that stretch of the old road which was on the south side of the shadowy St. Joe. The Avery depot now serves as the town post office and community center. It actually looks much better than when it housed a beanery, baggage room, and the usual assorted railroad paraphernalia. The substation, now demolished, was similar to the one at Cle Elum in that it had a gabled roof to ward off heavy snows. It was about 100 feet east of the depot. Between the depot and the substation was an old fish pond which attracted the attention of many bored passengers as they stretched their legs during brief station stops. It's still there, fish and all. The town now "boasts" a full-time population of about 60 hardy folks. Like you mentioned, this is one of the most isolated areas in the Northwest, if not the country. The area is popular with hunters and fishermen. A forest Service camp lies just west of the townsite--near where the old roundhouse sat. Both substation operators' bungalows still exist a couple hundred feet east of the depot. My uncle's place was the second one. It's been remodeled, but is still there. With the exception of some bait shops and ourfitters, a cafe and a tiny store are about the only businesses left in the town. Oh, there is a school on the west end just across the river, and a couple of tiny motels have sprouted over the past couple of decades. Posh, it's not! There's a 33-mile-long dirt road over Moon Pass connecting Avery to Wallace. Part of the road uses the old Milw right of way, including several tunnels and high trestles. After turning 90 degrees to the left, the tracks headed virtually straight north up the North Fork of the St. Joe River. About 12 miles into the canyon the railroad turned east and followed Loop Creek to gain elevation. Still climbing a 1.7% gradient, the trains made a 180 degree turn through a pair of tunnels to head west until reaching the mouth of the 1.8 mile tunnel over St. Paul Pass at Roland, Idaho. The far end of the bore lies at East Portal, Montana. I'll keep Kent in mind when heading south on 97. Then I will definitely try to cruise a few miles on old 99 below Weed. I've been through Dunsmuir on the old road, and it was a hoot. Lots of railroading in that area as well. I remember seeing your gas station pictures a while back. I'll see if I can find the place. Happy trails, Ray
  2. Hi Dave, Between 1949 and 1974, my uncle worked at most of the 14 substations on the Milwaukee's Rocky Mountain Division between Harlowton and Avery, Idaho. Gold Creek (where I learned to drive on the Old Stage Road) was one of the places he lived. From there he operated Morel (17 miles east (compass south) of Deer Lodge), and Ravenna, right in the middle of Hellgate Canyon about 10 miles west of Drummond. He also served a stint at Avery, Idaho, and ended up living and operating Janney (above Butte) for the last nine years of his career. By that time (the early 70's) the Milwaukee was doing everything it could to save money. From Janney he remotely controlled Morel, Gold Creek, and Ravenna--as well as Janney manually. The substation west of Missoula that you mentioned is at Primrose, right on the Mullan Road which runs from Missoula to Frenchtown. Gold Creek, Ravenna, and Primrose are still there, gutted, of course. Drexel was very near the Camel's Hump which, as you know, is a few miles west of St. Regis, actually pretty close to Henderson. It's public fishing access now. All that remains are a few foundations. My uncle spent a few weeks at East Portal, up above Taft. That's where the bicyclists start their downhill trip along the abandoned grade into Idaho. Absolutely amazing scenery! He also worked east of Butte at the five substations between Two Dot and Whitehall. Those assignments were before I knew him. One substation building remains at Loweth, about 45 miles west of Harlowton, but that's not on the Yellowstone Trail. I love driving old US 10 (now MT 2) between Three Forks and Butte. It hasn't changed much in the 50+ years I've traveled on it. A couple years back I noticed a truss bridge sitting near the highway somewhere west of Three Forks. Might that be the old Garrison Bridge? Seems like a long ways to move a bridge of that size. There was also a bridge over the Jefferson near Sappington. Maybe it's the one alongside the old highway. The Lewis and Clark Caverns are great, but I'm not sure I'd fit through the narrow passages anymore. God, I hate getting old--and fat! Wow, the big red cars of the Pacific Electric! I'm sure the old rails are a mere few layers of pavement below the surface in many places. Yakima's interurban has been whittled back to a short line between Yakima and Selah. It still operates, but only infrequently. Rails still stick out on a few of our streets, too. I might be heading south on US 97 next month to see my son in LA. Pretty much two-lane from Toppenish to Weed, CA. Then I'm back on the Interstate and eventually CA 99 from Stockton to Bakersfield. I-5 over the Grapevine. I'm retired now, and would rather drive than fly. Something about the airplane seats getting smaller . Glad I could be of service as far as the electric engine is concerned. Yes, today's diesels are actually diesel electrics. Diesel prime movers revving up generators which feed current to the traction motors. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Take care, Ray
  3. Hello Jim, Cold wars have a way of doing that . The three units that went your way apparently had no nickname but were numbered either 801-803 or 800-802. They were wired to operate on 1500 volts as opposed to the Milwaukee's 3400 volt versions. I think the CSS&SB ran the Electroliner until 1963. Or maybe that was on the Northshore. Anyway, it was a nifty looking train. Ray
  4. Dave and Denny, Sorry for the screw-up with the names, guys. I got as far as the "D" and then everything blended together and out popped "Denny". However, being a former Milwaukee Road employee and the relative of a former Milwaukee substation operator, I simply can't let Dave's "diesel" reference pass. The engine on display near the old prison in Deer Lodge is actually a straight electric, which operated on 3400 volts DC and produced a modest 5510 horsepower. Two of these were usually teamed at the front of a train. They were pretty impressive in action. The railroad nicknamed them "Little Joe" in reference to Joseph Stalin whose Trans Siberian Railroad had been their originally intended destination. With the advent of the Cold War President Truman embargoed the whole shipment because of their strategic value to the Soviet Union. Originally, there were 20 units, but the Milw only ended up with a dozen. The remaining eight were split between Brazil (5) and the Chicago, South Shore, and South Bend (3). There you have it. Not really related to the Yellowstone Trail, but in some ways it was. Ray
  5. Thanks Denny! I figured my theory might be a stretch. That route across the bridge was a typical Montana dirt road, somewhat wider and smoother the closer to Deer Lodge one ventured. I spent a good part of three summers between Gold Creek, where my uncle worked on the Milwaukee Road, and Deer Lodge, honing my driving skills--as if driving a Montana dirt road compared to Tacoma's traffic. Deer Lodge remains an interesting community, but sadly the railroad I grew up with is just a memory. The depot still stands, but now serves as a church. I suppose that's a noble use, but I'd rather have the railroad in operation. The new prison facilities are a few miles west of town now. It was always an interesting experience to drive down Main Street and have the prison walls right on the far edge of the city sidewalk. For me, at least, it was a unique experience. Montana has some unusual quirks. I don't know all the details, but Deer Lodge County has always played an integral part in Montana's history. Silver Bow, Deer Lodge, and Powell counties competed left and right for money, land, mines, institutions, you name it. Somehow Deer Lodge ended up as the Powell County seat, while mining interests saw fit to back Anaconda as the Deer Lodge County seat. Silver Bow County contented itself with the mines in and around Butte, which serves as that county's center of government. The state prison ended up in Powell County, and the state mental hospital and its TB sanitarium wound up at Warm Springs and Galen, respectively. Both in Deer Lodge County. So within about a 25 mile radius, are located the prison, insane asylum, and TB hospital. When I worked for the Washington State Dept of Licensing, any questions dealing with Montana vehicle and driver licenses were handled through Deer Lodge, not Helena. For years Montana license plate had "Made in Prison" stamped into them. I checked a recent Montana plate and found no such stamping. I can definitely see why you might have been confused over where your grandfather was naturalized. I'm not sure Montana has settled everything yet. Just an observation. Thanks again. Ray
  6. I happened across an old (2004) "Arrow," and reread an article about the Conley Bridge at Deer Lodge. The Old Stage Road from Gold Creek comes into Deer Lodge via that very bridge. Conley's endeavor stands out for me not so much due to its link with the Yellowstone Trail, but because that's where my dad taught me to drive when I was 12 years old. Eventually Dad allowed me to drive back along old US 10. I was terrified every time I met a Consolidated Freightways truck on the two-lane, but we made it unscathed. It's approximately 18 miles between Deer Lodge and Gold Creek, whether driven on Interstate 90 (which basically buried old US 10 between the west (north) Deer Lodge exit and Drummond), or roughing it along the Old Stage Road. I checked the Internet to see which towns in that area of Montana were on the YT, and it appears the routing followed the Clark Fork valley as well as the Milwaukee's and NP's rights of way north to Garrison where a northwest heading was assumed to Gold Creek and eventually Drummond. Since the Conley Bridge lies at the end of the Old Stage Road into Deer Lodge, I wonder if the YT might have followed that route during its earliest years of existence. I possess fond memories of the area during the 1950's and 60's era. As one rolls past Drummond into Hellgate Canyon even the freeway is forced to adhere to the topography. It is possible to drive on many portions of old US 10 between Drummond and Lookout Pass some 150 miles to the west. The little towns are still there if one can break the spell and regain control of their vehicle long enough to take any of the numerous off ramps from the super slab. Some businesses have closed, of course, but the towns are pretty much as I remember them from my youth. If nothing else, they bring back a flood of heartfelt memories. Anyway, for those of you still reading this, I thank you. If anyone has info on that stage route's possible link to the YT, please let us know via this forum. Thank you. Ray
  7. Struck by a bit of wanderlust and looking to fill a couple hours of free time, I headed out yesterday into the upper Yakima Valley of Central Washington to see what I could see. I'm neither a farmer nor an orchardist, but harvest season frequently lends itself to interesting and relaxing drives through a network of winding country roads where speed limits might reach 50, but where most traffic is content to amble along at about 35. This is big-time fruit country where lush green orchards constrast sharply with the brown, sun-bleached hillsides defining the upper reaches of the valley. Whereas the Wenatchee Valley, 100 miles to the north, focuses most of its energies on the growing and marketing of apples, the Yakima Valley is a bit more diverse. Yes, there are myriad apples in all sorts of varieties, but there are also peaches, pears, plums, prunes, and lest I become a bit too alliterative, there are cherries, nectarines, apricots, and vinyards as well. I won't even touch on the vegetables. Technically my route centered on orchards located near the Naches River, a tributary of the Yakima. For all intents and purposes, its all part of the same general geographic area and ecosystem. With that cleared up, I'll talk about the drive I took. Running southeasterly, US 12 pretty much barrels down the center of this part of the valley until it reaches the stop light at the entrance to tiny Naches (population about 700, give or take). The next ten miles into Yakima are on four-lane, divided highway. I'd call it a freeway, but there are a few potentially nasty crossroads which tend to upset the apple cart on occasion (pun intended). I provide this information merely as background and context, because the route I chose intentionally avoids all the four-lane pavement. Long before the "freeway" existed, there was a route that cleaved to the northern edge of the valley, and eventually entered Naches along what is now Second Street. It's still there, in all its narrow, twisting and turning magnificence. Now a county road named Old Naches Highway, it skirts the ubiquitous orchards, packing sheds, farm driveways, and irrigation canals so vital to the area. This part of the route is posted at 35 MPH, but don't be surprised to find yourself travelling closer to 25 when following orchard equipment or farm vehicles. That's okay, though, because there are a couple of narrow concrete bridges along the way as well. They can be a tight fit when meeting a growling green monster. Like I hinted earlier, the route traverses some very bucolic countryside. Coming west from Yakima along Highway 12, turn right at the first light after crossing the Naches River. Just before the light, you will have passed Sun Tides golf course on the right. A small shopping center will be at the intersection. This will put you on Old Naches Highway. It jogs left and right here and there, but is clearly marked along the entire route. Ironically, or maybe sadly is a better term, I found no fruit stands along this route. Fruit stands fair better on the more heavily trafficked tourist roads like US 12. It takes roughly 20-30 minutes to cover this leg. It's relaxing, but not to the point of boredom. Once Naches is reached on the west end there are several options. After entering the center of town turn left and head toward an old gasoline station that serves as a centerpiece. It will be on your left. At the same point, look right and the renovated Northern Pacific Railway depot and community center comes into view less than a block away. There is a newly paved rail/trail hiking and biking path being developed in conjunction with the depot renovation. The path currently is paved for a mile east from the depot. The backers claim a $50.00 donation will pave a ten-foot-wide, one-foot length of the trail. Obviously, it's a grass-roots effort, but worthwhile, nonetheless. By turning left at the light, US 12 eastbound is joined. There are several fruit stands on this section of US 12. It's a quick way back to Yakima, but not the most scenic, relaxing, or interesting way to go. Instead, continue across US 12 and enter South Naches Road. The routing traverses the south bank of the river and again takes the driver through farm and orchard country. This is one of those roads that, for no apparent reason, will make a right angle turn every now and then. Property lines, section lines, who knows? After passing Eschbach County Park on the left, the orchards are mostly a memory as the road snakes between the river's edge and the base of the hills. There are many homes tucked away on this stretch, so beware of vehicles entering the roadway. Part of this section is posted 50MPH, but I found that pace caused white knuckles on occasion. By turning left onto Powerhouse Road the same intersection where the whole trip started is reached. It's approximately a 20-mile loop. If you're looking for a short but interesting drive on two-lane pavement, this might work. I took this trip on a lark just to see the orchards up close. Even the few minutes I spent stuck behind a slow-moving farm truck didn't bother me. It seemed to fit right in, and besides, this is harvest season. It's exactly what I wanted to see. All of this loop is on county roads now, but the first half covered a chunk of Old US 410 between Yakima and the Cascade Mountains. White Pass (now US 12) to the south wasn't opened until 1951. Around the same time, highway traffic was taken off the Old Naches Highway and routed past the edge of town, albeit still on two-lane pavement. The four-lane divided highway between Naches and Yakima was finished sometime in the late 1950s or early 1960s. Given the current funding situation and traffic patterns, I doubt it will ever extend much farther west. US 12 and now SR 410 split about four miles west of Naches. Both highways are two-laned and provide passage to various entry points in Mount Rainier National Park.
  8. Thanks for your message and interst in the blogs. We are planning on opening the blogs to all members. Our webmaster was evaluating the blogs for security and other issues. We hope to open up blogging to all members in the next few weeks. So, grab your keyboard and get ready to post! Best, Becky Hello Becky, Sounds like fun. I look forward to it. Thanks for the response. Ray
  9. OK, thanks Denny. I won't worry my little head about it anymore. Ray
  10. I'm logged in and am able to enter comments under various and sundry topics, but when I try to log onto a blog It tells me I'm not authorized to do that. I don't know if I'd ever post to these blogs, but it would be nice to see what other people have to say. Is(are) the blog(s) reserved for certain levels of membership, or am I simply doing something wrong with my keyboard? Thanks for any suggestions.
  11. Hello Eric, I read your first post and the ongoing conversation twixt you, Dave, et al. Very impressive work on the Yellowstone Trail, and great pictures. Between the bunch of you, I've been energized to get back into traveling and reporting on the YT. I've been across the Manastash, as the locals refer to the YT between Selah and E'burg, a few times. I wrote up one of my treks somewhere on this site. I'm also a devotee of old US 97 wherever I can find it, but especially through the Yakima Canyon. Interesting, most people in Yakima call it the Ellensburg Canyon, while everyone else refers to the more logical river name. Oh well. An aside here, just below the tunnel at about MP 3 or 4 it is possible to see the swerve in the old Northern Pacific right of way. This was necessitated after the highway tunnel collapsed in 1964, and US 97 was rerouted at approximately the same elevation as the NP tracks. The railroad was not too amenable to moving their tracks a few yards closer to the river. The then Dept of Highways eventually won the contest, but according to a former employee of the department, it was like pulling teeth. Back then, railroads had a lot of clout. In fact, they still do. Yakima is still squawking about the BNSF reopening the old NP Stampede Pass line between Auburn and Spokane, via the Yakima Valley. I don't mind a bit. I love trains as much I enjoy 2-lane pavement. Your comments on western history are interesting. I don't think westerners are averse to history. We just don't have as much of it as the East Coast. It is also much closer to us, in that many of us had living relatives who were only one generation removed from our beginnings, statehood, etc. Our cities date back only to the mid-Nineteenth Century, while yours go back to the 17th Century in certain cases. Your observations are correct, but many westerners might not even realize they're looking at history. I hope that makes a little sense. Regardless, I hope to read more of your stuff, and to contribute a bit more, myself.
  12. Thanks, Dave. I read the article, and it answered all my immediate questions. My wife and daughter spent this past Saturday walking around Lake Padden, and it seemed logical that Old Samish was the road I'd driven on way back when. By the time I entered Western in 1967, I-5 was complete through all of Whatcom County. One of the points made in the article referred to the high per capita of exits along I-5 through Bellingham. Within a few hundred yards of the northbound Samish onramp lies the Lakeway Drive exit. The on/off ramps keep coming like that until just short of Ferndale. For a town of roughly 80,000 inhabitants, the congestion is incredible. I hadn't given any thought at all to the path of Old 99 north of Samish. The route described in the article makes sense, though. It eventually works its way through the business district along Holly and then past the government buildings off Dupont, crosses Whatcom Creek, and eventually exits via Northwest Blvd. Alternate 99, SR 11 (Chuckanut Drive) is a wonderful alternative to I-5, but it isn't for the faint of heart. Lots of twists and turns, dropoffs, and narrow bridges. Wonderful views, unless you're the driver. There are a couple of great little oyster grills and stands along the way, as well as Chuckanut Manor near the community of Bow at the south end of the cliff road. Dave, it's nice to hear from you again, as well. I've been here and there, doing this and that. Managed to get down to Southern California last month where my son drove me along Old 99 through Newhall and San Fernando. I don't drive in LA! Thanks again, Ray
  13. Is Old Samish Way in Bellingham the former US99? I'm guessing it is, as I remember having driven on an old 2-lane stretch between what is now the Samish Exit #252 on I-5, and Alger, on the northern fringe of Skagit County. This was in the spring of 1966 and the Interstate wasn't done yet. I know the original routing was via Chuckanut Drive, but that was way back. Right now I'm interested in Old 99. My daughter is attending college in B'ham and my wife and I make frequent runs up that direction. Any info would be appreciated. Ray
  14. Hey Dave, Not quite as much impact as the Zabruder clip which also dates to 1963, but your road trip definitely had a happier outcome. Keep em coming! Ray
  15. Thanks for the great info, Larry. I haven't done much formal research on the numbering system but the information you povided meshes well with my spotty and very subjective observations. I remember my dad telling me that even numbers meant east/west routes and odds referred to north/south. As a youngster the three-digit alternate routes frequently confused me. Eventually they made sense, but sometimes I still scratch my head. Until 1967 (kudos to Dave for verifying that date) we had US 410 traversing Washington east and west. I gather it bore some relationship to US 10. Similarly, we still have US 195 and 395, offshoots of US 95. Near Wallula we have a small part of US 730, perhaps an offshoot of US 30? That's what I would guess anyway. I've noticed that most public modes of transportation create schedules where an eastbound movement is even numbered, while westward schedules are odd numbered. North and south are even/odd, respectively. The railroads originated that system in the 19th Century. Bus lines and even airlines use the same system. The loss of the named routes was a shame, but the standardization certainly helped. As my dad or mom navigated through various towns in Washington, Idaho, and Montana I remember looking frantically for that comforting black and white shield bearing the number 10. Often the sign would say "You are heading east (or west) on US 10. Always good to know. Many states have tied their numbering systems to the Federal Interstate system. It sure beats trying to discriminate between Highway 5F, 5G, 5H like we used to do around Tacoma up until the late 1960s. Drive safely. Ray e='Larry F.' date='Jan 2 2008, 08:16 PM' post='9123'] "On January 1, 1927, “Final location of the United States’ most important roads in the country was announced today by the bureau of public roads of the department of agriculture. The system as finally selected embraces ten main transcontinental routes designated by numbers which are multiples of ten while the important north and south routes are numbers 1, 11, 21, etc.” Thus reported the Chicago Tribune on January 2, 1927..." Balance of this nice blog entry on the Windy City Road Warrior site is at: Windy City Road Warrior
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