Silent Snows

Snowy mornings have a special kind of quiet. Grey clouds above roll along with only the lonesome sounds of a wintery breeze pushing them forward. Standing near a field or line of bushes, little rustle is heard -- just the silence of of a new snowfall. As snow fall covers the ground and sticks to the roads, even the passing cars drift by silently.

It's a snowy winter morning along Lines West, the location is Rosalia, WA. The old tilted rectangle of America's Resourceful Railroad still clings to the bridge side -- just barely. Located on the south side of the old structure, it has been subject to direct sun for many many years and they show. Just out of frame to the left is the old electrified interurban from Colfax. At one time Rosalia hosted the transcontinental Milwaukee Road, the electrified Great Northern (who purchased the interurban), and the Northern Pacific line from Spokane to Lewiston. The three big northwest players all in one small town, out amongst the hills of Palouse country.

But the year is 2004, not 1934, and the sights and sounds of interurban travel and transcon freights are matched in silence only by the fresh snow fall. The NP line was in place, but only as far as Moscow, ID when this photo was taken. Today, it ends at the Idaho border. Times change, but the quiet of fresh snow and its tranquility in places like this seem unchanged.

Even though snow and Christmas seem tied inexorably together in Western culture, Peace and tranquility don't always seem to play an important role. The noise of shopping mall parking lots and scream of continuous entertainment do a fair job blocking quiet and thoughtfulness. But on that snowy December morning five years ago, surrounded by history and the deep quiet of a snow storm, tranquility and quiet seemed so very important.

May you find some Peace and quiet of your own this holiday. Merry Christmas.


SDP45 said…
Rosalia is a nice quiet town, but then looking around you see that is was not always that way. My sister lives there, and it is fun to poke around and see where the GN (Spokane Coeur D'Alene & Palouse) and MILW ran.

Thanks for the memories.

Oil-Electric said…
Changing landscape. The Palouse Country was populated by a very strong willed and determined group of immigrants from eastern Europe who recognized the possibilities of farming the volcanic soils found at a moderate elevation, despite it’s relatively low rainfall.

During the 1870’s and 1880’s hundreds, indeed thousands of acres were cultivated with wheat, oats, peas and lentils.

One of my best friends at WSU was brought up on a massive lentil farm just outside Rosalia. Alan told me he had no idea what would happen to the farm. He had no interest in taking it over. He represented a generational shift from long-standing family farming operations.

Along with the passing of the railroads in the Palouse, I’ve often wondered what became of that lentil farm in Rosalia. The last I heard from Alan he was a weapons designer, living in China Lake.
Anonymous said…
I never got to work in that area; but our division tie gang was moved from Plummer to Ewan one summer, and I had the opportunity of driving my tie crane with the rest of the crew thru that area. Having lived in Winona when I was a kid, I remembered all the back roads to get around Whitman county and such...but it was facinating to traverse that area by track, winding our way thru Tekoa, Rosalia, Pine City, and ROCK LAKE was killer...

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