Tuesday, March 31, 2009

41: The Untold Story

Someone once said (and many have repeated it), that "it's got to be about the going there and not the getting there."

While my last post focussed on tunnel 41, there's an interesting backstory about the going there.  Back in Februrary of '07, a friend and I set about photographing some of the abandoned lines of Eastern Washington.  The Milwaukee Road was included in our plan, naturally.  What started off as a clear and sunny day in the Palouse quickly turned to fog and wet sloshy snow as my buddy's trusty Jeep headed us up into the Idaho panhandle and the resting place of the Resourceful Railroad.  We accessed the old right of way near Plummer, ID and boldly pushed our way through the sticky stuff towards the mouth of tunnel 41.  When the snows grew too deep, we hiked the last half mile and recorded the image that you see below in the previous post.

Our journey out was more interesting than our journey in.  We un-stuck the jeep several times before we successfully turned it and photographed it for posterity beneath the US95 overpass shown in the photo above.  We were within a couple of miles of Plummer at this point, but it would take us the better part of 5 hours to make that short trip.

Coming down off the old right of way on the "jeep trail" the vehicle broke through a thick layer of ice that had overlaid enormous potholes dug after many jeeps before us had made a similar trip.  The cold winter had frozen the water in these miniature lakes and our way in gave no warning of the problems that lay beneath.  We found half the jeep lodged in the deep wheel ruts.  The other half was still up on the frozen puddle that covered the similar trench on the passenger side.  Hours of digging and help from some generous locals with a tow chain passed.  Nothing would dislodge the jeep as its front differential was now dragging against the ground, a victim of not enough clearance.

A tow truck was summoned and a hydraulic winch attached to the front axle made short work of the problem.  Our trusty jeep popped right up and out of the offending hole.  Tired, wet, muddy, and $150 lighter the day ended in darkness with dinner at one of the local US95 cafes in Plummer.  We looked quite the mess, but Plummer didn't seem to mind.  The french fries were hot, and the burger was good.  

4 comments:

Oil-Electric said...

Great back story Leland! Adds to the value of the photo when we find out the sacrifices made! Years ago, I drove past a "No Entry" saw horse, way up on the forest service roads accessing the Natron Cutoff. I got hi-centered in new gravel in my little Opal Kadet. Bye and bye, a grader operator doing some Saturday overtime came down in front of me and stopped. Thinking I was going to get pulled out, I greeted the big galoot with a cheery smile. He said "I'm gonna eat my lunch. You got 30-minutes to get that piece of **it off my road, or I'm going to push it off my road!" Fear is a great motivator!

Kurt Clark said...

That's a great story! Thanks for sharing.

SDP45 said...

Holy smokes!

LinesWest said...

Good story there Robert, thanks for sharing. These stories behind the stories can be pretty good (and even funny if enough time has passed...).

-Leland