Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Re: Waterville Railway Co.
Office of: THE WATERVILLE RAILROAD COMMITTEE Waterville, July 24, 1909
To Land-owners in the vicinity of Waterville:

Dear Sir:
The enclosed circular, read in connection with this letter, will explain a situation that is of direct interest to you.

The Great Northern is building a line up Moses Coulee into the Big Bend country. They come up Moses Creek, follow the Douglas draw as far as the old Hetley place where they swing to the northeast seemingly pointing toward the head of Grand Coulee. They will build as far as Mansfield this year, which is up the East Foster Creek country. Where they will ultimately go is not known to the Public. There are some indications that they will proceed down Foster Creek by way of Bridgeport, connect with the line building south from Oroville, and postpone for a time thebuilding of a line from Wenatchee up the Columbia River. In that eventthe Moses Coulee line will become a very important branch of the Great Northern. It is to be operated from Wenatchee.

Naturally, the people in and about Waterville did all they could to induce the railroad people to swing their line far enough west to reach this place. The Great Northern surveyors ran in here on two or three different routes; but, owing to the topography of the country, it was found impracticable to bring the main line around by Waterville, and the only solution of the problem was found to be the building of a branch from Waterville to the Moses Coulee line to connect at Douglas, a distance of four and a half miles without switches.

The Great Northern declines to build this branch for the accommodation of the people in the Waterville county, because it is plain we will have to haul our grain and other freight to and from the Great Northern anyway. So the only way for us to get help is to help ourselves.

With this in view a movement was started here to build our own line from Waterville to a point near Douglas. We have met with vast gratifying results. Fifty thousand dollars was pledged the first day. The responses from the farmers and towns-people are more nearly unanimous than we expected; still, here is a situation that is going to crowd us to the limit, and we feel that every man that is to benefited ought to help to the extend of his benefit.

Your own land lies in such a way that it will cost you more to haul your wheat to the Great Northern than to Waterville. It goes without saying that this will affect the price and salability of your land. Remoteness from market depreciates the value of land, while nearness there to always increases the value. Besides nearness to a thrifty, growing town will not only increase the value of your land, but render it much more salable should you ever desire to dispose of it.

Taking these matters into consideration we feel sure you will be as willing as others are to help in the struggle for better accommodations and the general advancement of this particular locality. You can affordit, for you outlay will be returned to you in benefits to you property, while without these benefits it will at least stand still as to value, while lands nearer the railroad are advancing.

Respectfully submitted,G. P. WILEY, Chairman of Committee

Waterville Railway Co. grain siding operations. 1942

GN track laying record

Monday, October 27, 2008

GN Dynamite Shack

This is one of two dynamite shacks I have located on the MB Line. These little structures measure about 5' wide x 7' long x 5' high. This one is located between bridge #26 and #27 up above the rail bed about 200' on the steep slope. The other is located about a mile south of Douglas, WA up in a basalt rock depression. Each has a little door on them as seen in this picture.

1915 Map

1915 Great Northern Railway Map of the MB Line.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Station sign I created using photoshop

Pictures I took in the spring of 2008 showing the amount of work that took place in order to build this branch line

Grade cut where Douglas Creek and Duffy Creek merge. The cut is between bridge #20 and #21. Looking on the down grade.

Looking on the down grade between bridge #24 and #25

Solid rock grade cut looking on the down grade between bridge #25 and #26

Looking on the up grade just north of bridge #24

Large rock cut just before bridge #25 looking on the up grade

The Seattle Sunday Times: March 1, 1942

My grandma found this old article while going through some old WWII letters. It was sent over to Europe and made its way back.

Great Northern Mansfield Branch Line facts:

~Officially started operations November 1909
~Cost of the line, including equipment, was $1,427,471.09
~179,080 crossties were used, costing $85,703.42
~Cost of the locomotive, baggage, mail and express cars, passenger coaches, freight equipment and work train equipment was $34,362.41
~Around the time of line's construction, the average yield per acre was 15 bushels

Tonnage break-out for year 1913
Grain 94,212,650 lbs.
Grain products 4,775,490 lbs.
Other products 35,773,000 lbs.
Total all freight 134,762,000 lbs.

Revenues for year 1913
Freight $65,578.82
Passenger $21,260.94
Other revenues $4,831.71
Total all freight $91,671.47

Expenses for year 1913
Operating expense $68,084.22
Taxes $19,049.28
Total all freight $87,133.50

Newspaper articles from various years about the MB Line

Engineer Andrews and a crew of surveyors will begin work at Columbia River Junction to run what is believed to be the final survey for the line up Moses Coulee to Mansfield.

The Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad have revived plans to run a line from Beverly to the Big Bend. A survey was made a while ago and it is believed the Great Northern's present activity on the Mansfield Line was prompted by this threat of the Milwaukee to invade what Jim Hill regards as his territory.

The Daily World has been informed that work will begin in a few days on the Great Northern's branch line up Moses Coulee. Effort is also being made to find a suitable grade into Waterville with the main line instead of placing that town on a spur line.

The Great Northern Railroad has filed an application for right of way across state lands in Douglas County adjacent to Moses Coulee. This action indicated the railroad is ready to proceed with its branch line into the Waterville country.

-March 1949-
Mansfield line reopens Big Bend to rail transport after severe flooding the summer before.

-June 1982-
Burlington Northern formalizes its intent to abandon Mansfield Line.

A local task force has developed a plan it hopes will save rail service in the Douglas County wheat country but it will require a financial investment from wheat growers. Burlington Northern had notified the Interstate Commerce Commission that it planned to abandon the Mansfield Line within three years.

An updated version of the State Rail Plan is now in the works and it will analyze the impact of abandoning the Mansfield Line. The fate of that stretch of rail, which serves most of Douglas County's wheat farmers running up Moses Coulee through Waterville to Mansfield, is now one of the "top-rated projects" of the state Department of Transportation.

Voters in areas of upper Douglas County, including the towns of Waterville and Mansfield, will decide on a special railroad district in the Nov. 8 general election. County commissioners have chosen to let the voters decide the fate of the Mansfield Line, which runs 62 miles from Columbia Siding southeast of Wenatchee through Moses Coulee to Mansfield.

-March 1985-The Mansfield Line is history. The last wheat train rolled out of Douglas Saturday morning prompting speeches, jogging old memories and flattening souvenir coins placed on the rails. About 100 people gathered in Waterville to see off the last train of 40 boxcars. Burlington Northern is abandoning the 62-mile spur line, having waited out unsuccessful attempts by local farmers to keep the trains rolling. Wheat ranchers must now rely on trucks to transport their crop.

WRY CO. Deopt

September 19, 1910

One of two frame bents remaining from bridge #25

I took this picture while on a hike I did between Slack Canyon and Alstown in the spring of '08

Tunnel near the Falls at Douglas Creek

Bridge #3 near Appledale after the flood of 1938

1921 Map

1921 Great Northern Railway Map of MB Line.

MB Line sign that I designed

Wrecked passenger coach in Dougals, WA

What was to have been a routine rail trip turned into a frantic ride when the passenger coach belonging to the Waterville Railway Co. broke loose and raced down to Douglas on February 26, 1920. The 60 ft. 12 wheeler coach had been left in front of the Waterville depot while the rest of the train backed into the siding at a wheat warehouse to pickup loaded wheat cars. For some reason the coach unlatched and starting rolling down the tracks with five passengers still on board. Unaware to the passengers, the coach began to pick up speed and race towards Douglas. The engineer, fireman and brakeman where all on the locomotive at the time and were unable to tame the car. They raced after the coach on the locomotive but were unsuccessful in catching it. As the coach reached about 40 mph, the Great Northern Douglas Agent Jack Brady, noticed the car approaching the Douglas Depot and got out of the way. The coach ran into the Depot knocking it of it’s foundation by 4 ft. Fortunately no one was hurt in the accident.

(source: Beginnings, 1989) This is a paper back book that talks about Waterville History. There was no author for this information in the book.

Start of Construction

Start of construction on the Waterville Railway Co. October 14, 1909.

End of the line

End of the rails at Mansfield, WA. 1983 photo taken by the late John P. Henderson

First train to reach Dougas, WA

First train to reach Douglas, WA on October 1909

1949 aerials of areas along the MB Line

Bridge #41 largest on the line.

Douglas WA Depot in 1983

Douglas Depot picture taken in 1983 by the late John P. Henderson. After the abandonment of this line, Burlington Northern deeded the structure over to Central Washington Grain Growers. They set it ablaze on Sunday, December 5, 1993.

1984 Hopper derailments on the MB Line

Map of crash sites

1st crash site

1st crash site

1st crash site

2nd crash site

3rd crash site looking on the down grade

3rd crash site looking east across the creek

3rd crash site looking east across the creek

3rd crash site

2nd crash site looking west across the creek at bridge #36

This picture, just above, taken 1.30 miles south of Alstown, WA, shows a derailed Frisco covered hopper car on its side in Douglas Creek next to bridge #36 on the Mansfield Branch Line. For some reason, three of these cars broke loose from the Douglas, WA siding and made their way down the tracks before coming to a crashing halt. This picture specifically shows a CB&Q (Burlington Route) 40’ box car and a Burlington Northern flat car with a large vacuum coming to the rescue to clean up the spilled grain. Central Washington Grain Growers’ crews and Burlington Northern crews worked together to clean up the mess.  The first car derailed 1.1 miles north of Alstown, the second shown here and the third a couple hundred feet  down the tracks between bridge #35 and #36. Photo taken by Dennis Viebrock in the spring of 1984.