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Showing posts from August, 2010

Brownfields and Open Spaces

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There's a term used to describe abandoned industrial sites:  brownfields.  Across the expanse of the United States these places exist as reminders of hustle, industrial might, and a growing country flexing its industrial muscles.  In Pittsburgh the old steel mill sites dot the river banks that make the city famous.  In Birmingham, it's old iron works and furnace sites.  The remains of old industry are scattered out across the Midwest rust belt with empty fields or rusted and mangled machinery dotting old sections of small and large cities alike.  The West has its share of brownfields too.  The city of Spokane has extensive stretches of land once occupied by a bustling railroad yard that stretch from near downtown west to the canyon that marks the city's western edge.  

A massive trestle spanned the Spokane River here, carrying trains from the shared UP/Milwaukee Road trackage across the chasm and into the heart of the city.  The leftovers today consist of a few embedded f…

Answers to Questions

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In the years that have spanned the Milwaukee Road's "retrenchment" from the Pacific Coast, there have been more than a few questions posed.  There have been more than a few answers offered.  There have been more than a few arguments started, and more than a few facts misinterpreted.  The common thread is the quest for answers to the question, "What happened out there?"

Although it was Lines West that seems to be the most memorable scar from the Milwaukee tragedy, perhaps because of its seemingly inherent value, all across the Milwaukee empire things were not well.  Travel times across the Midwest were high, slow orders abounded.  Harsh winters reduced the locomotive fleet to the point where Canadian National and Baltimore and Ohio units made guest appearances.  Out on the Pacific Extension, worn U-boats old GPs trudged through the snows and dilapidation of what was left of a modern engineering marvel.

I don't pretend to have the answers to the questions the…