Milwaukee Road in the 21st Century

JKD Jul 11, 2007

  1. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    59,605
    4,253
    600
    There were originally only four bridges. The "Famous Four", as I suppose we could say. Those four could be seen from the old and new highway routes, so are most known. Being a native of the Snoqualmie Valley and very close vicinity, I saw those so many times... The fifth bridge, closest to Cedar Falls, was added many years later. It was originally a fill with wooden box culvert. Trying to recall the year and cannot, (the time was December- very close to Christmas), that culvert plugged and a large pond formed on the up hill side. When enough pressure had built up, the soggy ground gave way, and blew away the fill. It virtually wiped out the small lumber town of Edgewick, a short distance down hill. Even though it's proper name was Bautzke Creek, the locals thereafter called it "Christmas Creek". (A few of us native/oldtimers still do!) Today, the newbies have somehow ¤¤¤¤¤¤¤ized the name to Boxley Creek. Take Exit 34 off I-90, and drive south. You are on Edgewick Road, which today also carries a county road number to confuse newbs about history. A short distance south, there may still be a little tree farm, which sold Christmas trees, and was named Christmas Creek Tree Farm. Yup. I can remember cutting trees there for our celebrating the Holiday.

    Yikes. That must have been a very strange senstation, when the conductor stepped inside. Either the engineer was inexperienced, or not paying close attention, to not notice that much time had passed and he was still not back outside!
     
  2. PGE-N°2

    PGE-N°2 TrainBoard Member

    766
    389
    20
    Well, the tunnel is 26,500 feet long, so I imagine it takes a few minutes to get through. It may also just be an urban legend, too.

    That's an interesting story about the bridges. I also noticed the dramatic sweeping curve where the humpback snowshed was: it looks really impressive in an aerial photo. Too bad you can't railfan there, anymore.

    None of this really makes any sense, though. It doesn't even take an engineer to understand that Snoqualmie Pass had far superior grades to Stampede and Stephens, and BN often took advantage of that when they had to detour trains on the Milwaukee. It's also obvious in aerial views that the actual distance of track that is actually inside the pass, is far shorter than the other too, and the approaches are easier. Also, despite the fact that the Milwaukee supposedly got a haphazard and last-choice route into Seattle, where it would enter Renton if it still operated today, is probably the best access to Seattle-Tacoma, being essentially a straight shot in, and would be perfect for an Amtrak route.

    The only thing I am having trouble explaining away for imagining the Milwaukee Road operating in the 21st Century, is trying to explain how they would operate over Boylston Hill. Even today, I imagine it would be a helper grade, although some heavier westbound traffic could probably take the Columbia Gorge route if an agreement with UP could have been made, but that sort of undermines my whole suggestion that the increased oil and coal traffic could bypass a lot of grade crossings, as well as the gorge, by using the Milwaukee Road's route over the Cascades.
     
  3. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    59,605
    4,253
    600
    Actually the route had been explored and surveyed by several other operations, prior to the Milwaukee building across the Pass. GN, NP, SLS&E to name three. Funny thing is that GN had targeted Everett as their initial terminal, the NP headed to Tacoma.

    The SLS&E was never finished, as they ran out of money, then were hit by the Panic of 1893. Their west side construction ended not far from Exit 34 of I-90, below Edgewick.... When I-90 was built between Exits 32 and 34, back in the mid-1970's, some rail and original SLS&E r-o-w was actually buried beneath that fill.
     
  4. PGE-N°2

    PGE-N°2 TrainBoard Member

    766
    389
    20
    I just had another thought, since this is all in the realm of fantasy: Didn't the Milwaukee have a line of their own from Bagley Junction through Palmer, on the branch to Enumclaw, where the NP and the MILW already had a junction? If that had still been in service, there would already be a way to divert traffic from Stampede Pass to Snoqualmie Pass. It may have been a little bit longer, but it would be a good detour around the urban areas of Tacoma.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 5, 2015
  5. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    59,605
    4,253
    600
    The primary route for their Enumclaw Line was from Bagley Junction. If my memory is correct, at one time, there was a connection track to the NP just north of Kanaskat and the Green River. But this was before the Dam caused line relocation, and construction of Palmer Junction. I have been told by a reliable source there were NP detours. But how many and why I wouldn't know. A guess would be weather related damage to Stampede Pass. Then also was the line coordination, where the NP and MILW lines had segments combined into a single branch.
     
  6. Joe Valerio

    Joe Valerio New Member

    5
    4
    12
    Milw pans

    I have previously used pantographs from the NCAT website, which are Milw prototype. Here is a drawing showing the distinctive anti-snag guard unique to the Milw and GN.

    Milw Pantograph.jpg
     
    Kurt Moose likes this.
  7. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    59,605
    4,253
    600
    Have you been able to get any, recently? The fellow who was manufacturing those, out of Oregon, quit doing so many years ago. At least for public sale....
     
  8. Dave Riffle

    Dave Riffle TrainBoard Member

    43
    2
    16
    At one time I'd read that the Boylston Hill alignment could have been modified to reduce the grade quite a bit. It might have been a Michael Sol post somewhere. Anyhow I think it was said that they had surveyed it but lacked the funds to do it. Thus might have eliminated any need for a helper.

    The other challenge of course was the Yakima Firing Range. I'm not totally hip on the challenges inherent in that but I believe the army was keen to see the MILW alignment abandoned rather than revived over Boylston.

    In regards to the Renton/Kanasket/Auburn triangle, I believe that a short (4 mile?) connection was deemed doable had the BN wanted to tie the MILW line into theirs at Kanasket. This probably would gave worked well versus retaining Renton. In my own imagination back in the 80's, I envisioned retaining the right-of-way all the way to Renton, but would have bored a short tunnel maybe a 1/2 mile east of 405 that with a slight elevation gain could have exited between the 405/167 interchange and the 180th st off ramp. It would have crossed 167 on a bridge/trestle of some sort then dropped downgrade to the BN main near Tukwila. This would have been when there was not as much development in the area and would have eliminated the Kanasket Connection as well as the street running in Renton. I'm sure there are multiple reasons that wouldn't have worked but it was this kids idea.

    -Dave
     
    Kurt Moose likes this.
  9. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    59,605
    4,253
    600
    Dave-

    Have you ever looked at the Ravensdale Cut-Off? I have a feeling the trees are too large to easily envision it now. But that would have been an easy do, as excepting the need to cross the Kent-Kangley, they were alleged to own all the land, and the survey was complete.
     
  10. PGE-N°2

    PGE-N°2 TrainBoard Member

    766
    389
    20
    I've heard a few different ideas regarding a different route around Boylston but, at the end of the day, I think if I was going to build a layout with the Milwaukee Road in the 21st Century theme, I'd leave the hill there, just for the added interest of a fully modern railroad that still had a helper section. Besides, the grade was only 2.2% and there are still many sections of mainline on other roads that run around 2% and don't need helpers thanks to high-horsepower, AC traction and the use of distributed power.

    I'd also want to keep the Renton section, too, because how often do you see street-running, anymore? And just imagine a daily parade of long distance freights leaving Tacoma behind orange and black diesels and plugging up Renton. No doubt, the local populace would rise up in arms, but for an interesting visual on a layout, a street running section would be ideal.
     
  11. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    59,605
    4,253
    600
    As the modern era progressed, they were indeed more and more unhappy. Combine that with those times when BN or MILW blocked traffic coming off Sunset to Factory Place/North 4th Street and there were some famous jams. More than a few mornings I sat there, and if BN switched PC&F, even longer. I was late to work a few times.
     
  12. PGE-N°2

    PGE-N°2 TrainBoard Member

    766
    389
    20
    I thought sitting and waiting for a train was the fun part... At least you were able to witness it when it was still Milwaukee Road.
     
  13. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    59,605
    4,253
    600
    The sad part is I never even thought about a camera. All I have is a few now becoming badly faded memories.
     
  14. HemiAdda2d

    HemiAdda2d Staff Member

    17,670
    4,158
    221
    Actually, there is some truth to that story. A book I have on NP's Mullan Pass indicated there were times the big steam engines would sometimes stall while in the 3800-foot long tunnel (particularly at night and icy rail conditions). Visibility would be so poor, you could not tell if you were moving and there was no light in or outside the tunnel. The choking exhaust gases would sometimes incapacitate the hogger, and only when the stalled engine could be found in the bore, the throttle closed and eased out into the cold winter night, could the engineer come-to again. Ken, you might have this book: http://www.amazon.com/Northern-Pacifics-Mullan-Montana-Short/dp/B0006RV3T4

    There were plenty of stories like this in The Moffat Road of snowshed gas on the Denver, Northwestern & Pacific 4% grade over Rollins Pass with these exact conditions. http://www.amazon.com/Moffat-Road-E...0374746&sr=8-1&keywords=moffat+road+bollinger
     
  15. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    59,605
    4,253
    600
    Tunnels were yet another reason for the MILW electrification....
     
  16. PGE-N°2

    PGE-N°2 TrainBoard Member

    766
    389
    20
    They still did seem to manage the tunnels well enough with diesels after the end of the electrification, or maybe they just tried to ignore it.

    Although I know that the Fred Hyde book mentions Pipestone Tunnel often caused diesel powered trains to stall because it was on a grade.
     
  17. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    59,605
    4,253
    600
    Not enough horsepower, so they were down to really grinding along, slowly.... After the newer power was all moved east, older stuff which would emit even more exhaust to choke and stall.
     
  18. PGE-N°2

    PGE-N°2 TrainBoard Member

    766
    389
    20
    Would this be enough horsepower?

    [​IMG]
     

    Attached Files:

    Kurt Moose likes this.
  19. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    59,605
    4,253
    600
    Probably depends upon the tonnage and train length. Thinking back at how much horsepower they'd have rolling across the Rockies- Such as two Joes and Sputnik, right there you are looking at almost 13,000HP. Then if helpers were added.....
     
  20. HemiAdda2d

    HemiAdda2d Staff Member

    17,670
    4,158
    221
    I donno--horsepower/tractive effort is nothing without adhesion. The Joes wouldn't get the same adhesion levels as today's technotoasters. Modern units on dry sanded rail can achieve nearly 40% adhesion, and I doubt very highly a Joe could manage more than 20%. http://www.republiclocomotive.com/ac_traction_vs_dc_traction.html

    So, that said, the 2 big, modern SDs pictured could likely outpull a pair of Joes and an SD40-2. They would be able to put more of their HP to the rail than the legacy units.
     

Share This Page