MILW Remembering Milwaukee Road’s Coast Division Video

Hardcoaler Apr 9, 2018

  1. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    A friend sent me this outstanding Vimeo video link featuring Blair Kooistra's superb photography of the MILW's Coast Division, as captured between 1977 and 1980. It's titled Remembering Milwaukee Road’s Coast Division: Scenes from a Dying Transcontinental.

    29 Minutes, black and white. Enjoy!

     
  2. Kurt Moose

    Kurt Moose TrainBoard Member

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    Excellent!! All of this is gone, you wouldn't even know it existed, unless you look really hard.:(
     
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  3. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Hard to believe we are closing in on forty years ago. Unreal. The knife which Chicago, BN and DC slammed into the backs of those people is still there, rusting away now. :mad::cry::(
     
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  4. Kurt Moose

    Kurt Moose TrainBoard Member

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  5. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    It's interesting to find that there are so many fans of the Milwaukee after nearly four decades, including many who never lived in its service area. Its vast network of diverse lines, scenery, electrification, uniqueness of equipment and storied status have left a volume in railroading that we can't put away.

    My exposure to the MILW was limited to a trip as a teen to their Chicago yard in Bensenville, IL and to various locations in suburban Chicago over the years, and I've MILW fan ever since. I don't know a fraction of what y'all know about the road, but I enjoy reading everyone's posts and seeing pictures from all eras.
     
  6. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    I grew up in a family with much Pacific NW railroading history. Five documented members, including my father, who worked at their Tacoma shops. Others who worked for the NP, and noted loggers such as Scafer Bros, Aloha Lumber, Polson Brothers. And other RRs such as the CGW, IC, etc, etc, etc.... The MILW was always close due to Dad, Uncle Chuck and those folks. One relative who worked on the west end of the MILW Rocky Mtn Divn during installation of that electrification. i even have paperwork documenting his presence there. My maternal grandfather with the loggers. I grew up alongside of a busy, noted NP branch line. Hard to not be aware of these companies. I knew kids and their families who worked the RRs there as well. Still keep in touch with a very few survivors.......
     
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  7. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    One of the holes in my MILW knowledge concerns the 1970 BN merger. Upon its approval, it would seem that the MILW's Pacific Coast Extension lines were left at a serious disadvantage in attracting traffic. The BN was well financed and now had two well maintained mainlines (plus the SP&S) to ally against the MILW. The mismatch is hard to ignore.

    Did the BN merger come with any stipulations that offered competitive relief for the MILW? The ICC was notoriously strict on mergers and I find it puzzling that the MILW was allowed to twist in the wind while BN's advantage grew. Did the MILW earnestly fight the BN merger or was MILW management quietly pleased, planning an eventual exit from its western lines? My assumptions are probably all wet here.
     
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  8. HemiAdda2d

    HemiAdda2d Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Fantastic slideshow. I highly admire Blair Kooistra's work.
     
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  9. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Believe it or not, documentation shows clearly the MILW had a major portion of traffic out of Seattle. MILW had huge land and timber holdings and was a favorite of Weyerhaeuser in the PNW. MILW had very significant feed points from branches, including those in central Washington. (Grain.) And from the so-called "Golden Triangle" (grain) of central Montana. What far too many cannot grasp, is the MILW was a long haul bridge carrier. Long hauls are the most desirable billings possible! Anything which fed in along the way was a bonus. BNSF's "High Line" of today is much like the MILW transcon in 1970.

    There were stipulations. These were known as the "Western Gateways". MILW gained direct rail access to places such as Billings, Montana (COAL), and Portland, Oregon (Asian export markets, SW USA shippers, etc.) Meanwhile, BN did everything possible to QUIETLY thwart such movements. MILW did fight the BN merger. Originally the BN was scheduled to start up on May 1, 1968. MILW legal actions stalled that until March 2, 1970. BN even had timetables already printed and disbursed to all appropriate locations, in anticipation of their start up. I have some of these in my collection. (They are not rare.) In this instance, Federal regulators failed, miserably.

    BN got away with back door activities, which hindered MILW benefiting. The worst of it all were decisions from Jackson Street. (MILW HQ in Chicago.) Where they cut west end funding. Thus no materials, no people... Instead they took west end positive cash flow revenues, (Lines West alone, was actually in the black for operating costs versus revenues!), and pumped them into wasted projects back east, such as desperately propping up pet dying midwestern branch lines. Some lines which had been in the red for decades... Which were all quickly dumped in the 1980 aftermath! The double track main line Chicago-TC, which was a waste as well. It's purpose had been passenger service, pretty much long gone for twenty years at the time. Yet that is where the 4-R money went, and it did absolutely no good.

    Anyhow, how does a person expect Lines West operation to be maintained as needed, with no materials and supplies, plus nobody to do it? GN, NP, BN fans often deride the MILW west end, and they look bad for it. If any of GN, NP, or BN had been similarly drained of operating and maintenance budgets, they'd have fallen apart just as quickly, just as badly. Those foamers cannot figure it out.
     
  10. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    Great information Box and thank you. Looking at photos from the '70s, I should have recalled that the MILW's freights were long and heavy and that this would have been a result of significant business in Seattle and Tacoma. This would also have translated into good revenue for the road.

    I've always been fascinated by the MILW's construction of the Pacific Coast Extension and for the fun of it I just researched Continental Divide elevations as achieved by the various lines in Montana. I was surprised to find that t he MILW's was the highest, but I'm guessing that the GN and NP got the good real estate first. Perhaps the MILW's route was shorter.

    Pipestone Pass, Montana - 6,476 ft (MILW)
    Homestake Pass, Montana - 6,365 ft (NP, inactive since 1983?)
    Elk Park Pass, Montana - 6,352 ft (GN, abandoned 1972)
    Marias Pass, Montana - 5,236 ft (GN)
    Mullan Pass, Montana - 5,223 ft (NP, MRL)

    Which former line is BNSF's "High Line"? Again, thanks for the thumbnail history of the MILW's needless decline. I had no idea.
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2018
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  11. HemiAdda2d

    HemiAdda2d Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Astutely observed, Hardcoaler. The MILW was the last transcon railroad to cross the north, thus the prime real estate was already claimed. The better comparison (and I don't have time to research it right now) was the routes over the Washington Cascades. MILW Snoqualmie Pass, vs NP Stampede Pass and GN Stevens Pass. Compare the elevations of their summits, total curvature and max grades/grade lengths. You might be surprised by the result. The MILW had a well-engineered route up Snoqualmie Pass, better in many respects than their GN and NP competitors.

    Milwaukee Road's ditching electrification in '74 at the advent of high fuel prices didn't help the doom of Lines West. Electric operations proved themselves superior in efficiency over diesel loco power. With around 650 miles combined electrification over the toughest divisions, Lines West, as Boxcab noted, made good money for the RR.
     
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  12. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    The High Line is the former GN RY transcon.

    Here is the official RR sign, at Summit. 5215 feet:

    [​IMG]
     
  13. OlyPen

    OlyPen TrainBoard Member

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    Blair's work is awesome.

    There are still remnants of the MILW in the Seattle area. One short spur just off the Horton-Colorado crossing near SIG Yard is called the "M" track -- M for motors, and that I believe was once where the MILW spotted diesel power, with the adjacent track once going to Whatcom Yard.

    The old MILW freighthouse is still extant in Port Angeles and now houses a hobby shop. Parts of the old 14th Sub are still there in the woods and weeds, too.
     
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  14. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Interesting this would be a comment by someone using the name "OlyPen". (y):D I wonder how many others, (I do), understand your name origin? :D
     
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  15. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    Can you fill me in? This easterner/midwesterner is clueless. :cautious:
     
  16. OlyPen

    OlyPen TrainBoard Member

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    Olympic Peninsula. ...
     
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  17. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    A famous vacation area, which at one time had a huge timber industry. Home of Olympic National Park. Also was the location of the well noted barge fed ("marine") subdivision of the MILW. As well as the name of an ISP in that vicinity, "olypen.com".
     
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  18. OlyPen

    OlyPen TrainBoard Member

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    Could not have stated it any better! But I would add that the peninsula is comprised mostly of the Olympic Mountains, one of the most rugged ranges in the world. And the little town I live in gets an average of about 16" of rain annually. Meanwhile, just 25 miles west, rainfall is about 50", while Forks, Wash., about 75 miles west, gets 120" inches a year.
    http://www.olympicrainshadow.com
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2020
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  19. Kurt Moose

    Kurt Moose TrainBoard Member

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    This has a few scenes from the Olympic Peninsula in it, as well as the carfloat operation, love that area up there!:love:
     
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  20. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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