Gheringhap Sightings w/e 25/7/2015
Gheringhap Sightings w/e 18/7/2015
Gheringhap Sightings w/e 20/6/2015
Gheringhap Sightings w/e 11/7/2015
Gheringhap Sightings w/e 2/5/2015
Gheringhap Sightings w/e 16/5/2015
Gheringhap Sightings w/e 23/6/2012
Gheringhap Sightings w/e 3/1/2015
Gheringhap Sightings w/e 13/6/2015
Victoria, 3-10 to 8-10-2004
The plan for the day was to follow the W – O from Chelan north to Omak. The line is in service as far as Oroville, but my modeling interest did not go so far. Both the railroad and US 97 follow the Columbia River north along the west bank. The road and railway both depart the Columbia about five miles east of Brewster to follow the Okanogan River north.
It has been an unusually bad fire season in the West this year (and where haven’t things been unusually bad this year?), and a few miles north of Chelan, the east bank of the river had burned over, with some ground still smoking.
The first stop was Pateros, which I plan to include on a rendition of the W – O, partly because the railroad makes a layout-friendly curve on the approach from the south, and the town generated enough traffic during harvest to justify a Pateros Turn; departing Wenatchee, and only working Pateros. As the RS-1’s were assigned to scheduled 3rd-class local trains 698 north from Wenatchee (superior by direction), and 697 south from Oroville, it’s likely this traffic would have been handled by one of the O-4 Mikado’s assigned to the Division. I have seen images of O-4’s working the line as late as 1950, so certainly plausible. There were also industries besides fruit, so some variety in traffic.
Pateros generated enough car movements to have what amounted to a small yard, which is not the case today. 1948 timetables show Pateros as the meeting point between trains 697 and 698, but the realities of the work often caused hours of delay, as there was no dispatcher on duty when the trains ran at night, so no way to help one train against another. The meet place was often adjusted by train order prior to starting the night’s work.
Bridge 58.4 over the Methow River is still carrying traffic:
A little further north is the town of Brewster, where the railroad turns north up the Okanogan Valley. The bridge over US 97 looking south:
And a bit north of Brewster is this:
Not railroad-related, but an odd thing to see in north-central Washington.This turned out to be one of the antennas in the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA). While looking around the Net, I found a photo taken from the telescope that included the railroad, and a train:
Brewster is to the left. I believe the photographer noted the photo was taken in 2010, which would fit with RailAmerica ownership from 1996 to 2012. No prizes for guessing which shortline conglomerate owns the line now. I do not know what the cars were transporting.
The Great Northern located the Okanogan depot at MP 91.5, and it, and the railroad, are located on the eastern side of the river, with the Oak St bridge giving access to town.
View south from Oak St. The siding alongside the warehouse is gone, as is everything that was located between the railroad and the river to the right. The depot was located on the right, about where the sign is now.
Looking north from Oak St:
The end of the warehouse siding is still extant north of Oak St. The warehouse was there in the late 40’s, while the fuel dealer started out as a coal merchant. There was a small, 2-pen stockyard just past the oil tanks, but I do not know if it was active during the time of interest. The W – O did move stock, mostly pigs and sheep, but it wasn’t a big percentage of revenue. Much of the area is open-range, and I don’t know what, if any, arrangements the railroad had with ranchers to move cattle between pastures. Any such movement would run as extras, and have to work around the passenger train making the round-trip between Wenatchee and Oroville.
About 8 miles north is the town of Omak, and the end of my modeling interest on the line. Omak is headquarters to the current operator Cascade & Columbia, and the commercial center of the central Okanogan Valley. I believe Omak is a must-have on nearly any representation of the W – O, if for no other reason than the Biles – Coleman lumber mill was here, and the largest single customer on the line. Biles-Coleman was about the only reason the branch maintained regular operations in the Summer, when the fruit was growing, and there wasn’t much to do but watch it. The mill is still there, but I don’t know if it is currently rail-served. During the late 40’s, the mill would generate at least a half-dozen movements daily.
Shell and Standard oil maintained fuel depots north of the railroad, about where Eastside Park is today. The rail serving each of the depots ran down separate alleys for about a quarter-mile, which would be cool to model. There is no evidence of any of this, today. Regrettably, any iteration of the W – O I might build will have both the oil depots and Biles-Coleman represented by short spurs.
Omak, looking north from Omak Ave aka WA 155. The building adjacent to the road was a furniture warehouse, and good for 3 – 5 cars a month. A fruit warehouse is just beyond. Orienting past maps to the present street grid is hindered a bit, because sometime in the last 70 years, Omak changed their street names so Avenues now run east-west, rather than the original north-south alignment.
Looking south from Brooks Tract Rd, which is a little north of the north end of the town trackage. The tank car is spotted at the propane dealer, which was a rail-served oil dealer.
Looking north from Brooks Trace Rd:
I followed the railroad a bit north out of town, but Omak is the last town on the current layout conceptualization. The other two towns are Pateros and Chelan. Of the operational variety to be had on the railroad, those three towns probably provide most of it.
It was fun to visit an area I’d been studying for a couple years, and compare photos, maps, and valuation charts to what was on the ground today. I didn’t expect to find very much at all left over from 70 years ago, and was not disappointed. The environment is still the same, and I wanted to get a feel for the country the railroad ran through.
In all honesty, you could probably build a decent layout without visiting the area at all, thanks to computer mapping wizardry. Certainly some areas where public access is limited would be easier to ‘see’. However, standing on the ground gives context to the research. Crew comments on how dark it was to work Chelan now have some immediacy. It would have been dark, and in the Winter in blowing snow and temperature around 0F, not a great day at the office.
Wenatchee is about 6 hours from the house: out West, not a big deal. I expect I’ll make at least one more trip to the area, concentrating on the towns of modeling interest. I did do some non-railroad things on the day, and if interested, here they are.
The Model W – O
Prior to the trip, I bought another DC Atlas RS-1 in GN livery. It arrived while I was away, and I can now model all four of the RS-1’s rostered by the Great Northern in 1948, if so desired. Two locomotives would operate a layout just fine, and three were assigned to the Division. Now I have the three ‘stand-in’ RS-2’s, which have never turned a wheel, to dispose of.
This article first appeared on greatnorthernproject.wordpress.com
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