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Showing posts from December, 2009

Silent Snows

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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 hil…

Details

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It's all in the details.
The Milwaukee Road's Little Joe is an amazing collection of enormous castings. The shear amount of metal that encompasses the running gear and supports the carbody is something to behold. The design and manufacture dates back to a time when American foundry work was second to none, the country manufacturing base healthy, and the infrastructure of the country alive and growing. General Electric clearly built these locomotives to last in a harsh environment that saw frequent extremes in weather, loading, and speeds. In their lives as front line Western power, they encountered all of these.
In the details of an old machine like this Joe, much is learned about old processes and standards, previous ways of thinking, previous ways of problem solving and, just as important, the problems that were solved. The details are a history lesson in themselves. In amongst all of the details of Milwaukee's only existing Little Joe is a detail that harkens back…