MILW What if the Milwaukee Road still existed?

ladybngnfan Nov 3, 2015

  1. ladybngnfan

    ladybngnfan TrainBoard Member

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    I used to access this forum quite a while ago, but now I'm back. I'm a writer and I would like to write a story about what if the Milwaukee Road were still around in 2015. My idea is not fully developed, but so far I've come up with a female engineer who lives in Avery, Idaho, and is the 3rd or 4th generation of Milwaukee railroaders in her family. The story will be set in the present, and she will be running a train to the next crew change point, starting from Avery. Can anybody give me some ideas? Thank you. Donna Woodford
     
  2. ScaleCraft

    ScaleCraft TrainBoard Member

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    Well.....if it did...it would certainly remove all media attention from any derailments, explosions, or other disasters on all the other lines in the country.
    We wouldn't miss the wobbling freight cars limited to 10 MPH on the mainlines anymore.
    We could go watch the evidence of extremely deferred maintenance....and keep our distance so derailments wouldn't tangle us up in them.
    I think it's fascinating.
    Now, if you could go back 50-60 years, miss all the drama parts, and fast forward (wormhole jump?) to 2015, that would be kewl.
     
  3. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    She would likely be at least fourth generation, depending upon her age. Which direction would she be working? West to Malden? Or east to Alberton? Or would you be using the stretched out crew change points of the last few years, which really fouled up things....?
     
  4. ladybngnfan

    ladybngnfan TrainBoard Member

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    I haven't really figured all that out yet, that's why I asked the question. I guess, for starters, I'm imagining her as living all her life in Avery, her parents and her grandparents had jobs with the Milwaukee, her first words were "Little Joe", and because of that, Little Joe becomes her nickname on the railroad. I was also thinking Spokane for her crew change point, though I'm not sure about that. I'm also figuring that the Milwaukee is not only still around, but doing well and kicking butt in the railroad world, giving BNSF and UP, along with MRL, CSX, NS, and KCS a run for their money. I guess this is what I would call an alternative universe. And, where is Malden? I know where Alberton is, but I must admit my knowledge of the Milwaukee is a bit limited. It's one of my favorite railroads, but I don't have a huge amount of knowledge. So, does that help?
     
  5. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    If her nickname is "Little Joe" perhaps her actual given name was Josephine. There was a MILW location in eastern Montana of that name, a substation site.

    Malden is in Washington State. If you Google map, you can see an aerial view and easily spot where the yard plus roundhouse had been. The roundhouse had been closed after World War One. After the electrification was up and doing well, they shut down roundhouses at Three Forks, Alberton, Malden and Cle Elum (South Cle Elum), WA. Malden was the 1st crew change point westward from Avery.

    Spokane was actually (for freight) operated as part of a branch line, (not on the transcontinental line), which split off the main at Plummer Junction, Idaho. After the passenger trains were axed, the name was changed to just Plummer. From Spokane, a branch line went north through Newport to Metaline Falls. Another went east to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. Anyhow, no trains directly between Avery and Spokane, except in the very earliest years.

    On a sad note, Avery is dying and is just about gone now. :(
     
  6. montanan

    montanan TrainBoard Member

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    I think this would be an interesting story. When I was growing up, I had relatives working for the Milwaukee Road, living in Harlowtown, Three Forks and in Deer Lodge and was fortunate enough to have ridden over the entire length of the electrified Rocky Mountain Division.I even got to ride in Little Joes.

    My relatives still have conversations about "What If". I can remember when the tracks were well maintained and the railroad was extremely busy. I left Montana in 1964 when I went into the service and didn't return until 1977. Compared to the mid 60's the track had deteriorated badly due to lack of maintenance. My relatives were working during this entire time and always talked about the lack of upkeep and how the railroad could have thrived if things had been kept up. They had so much freight to move and at one time probably handled more freight than the NP or GN, but the derailment problems caused their customers to use other railroads.

    They also had many comments about the de-electrification right when the oil crisis hit. They never had much good to say about the management. I really believe that if the Milwaukee would have had a group of proper people to manage the company properly, it could have survived. I always enjoyed listening to their stories.
     
  7. montanan

    montanan TrainBoard Member

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    Here's a google earth image with the route of the Milwaukee Road shown in red from Haugen, MT to Avery, ID.

    [​IMG]

    Parts of the old right of way are now hiking trails north out of Avery, called The Hiawatha Trail.

    Here are a couple of photos taken along the trail which crosses trestles and goes through tunnels.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Sure got a bit scarey crossing these trestles in a Little Joe when one is 12 years old.
     
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  8. ScaleCraft

    ScaleCraft TrainBoard Member

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  9. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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  10. montanan

    montanan TrainBoard Member

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    Correct me if I am wrong, but at one time didn't the Milwaukee Road have the fastest transit time from the Pacific northwest to Chicago????
     
  11. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Yes. It's true. Both freight and passenger times. At one time they also had a big neon sign on the Tacoma Junction substation wall, which could be easily seen from the highway: "Fastest to the East". After dark that really was visible.
     
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  12. montanan

    montanan TrainBoard Member

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    I though so. I thought I remembered my cousin having some literature about this stashed away . Just shows what the Milwaukee Road had going for it and how they blew it. I certainly hope that this fact is brought up in the possible book.

    If not mismanaged, the railroad would surely still be with us today.
     
  13. ScaleCraft

    ScaleCraft TrainBoard Member

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    It all hinges around "at one time".
    I remember the electrics...remember the removal....and the "deferred maintenance" that caused such harmonic rolling...and 10-20 MPH top mainline speeds in areas...and you wondered if the cars were going to just roll off the track....
     
  14. montanan

    montanan TrainBoard Member

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    The deferred (or no maintenance) is what probably brought the railroad down. This I would blame on the executives of the railroad. My early memories of riding the box cabs and Little Joes were of very good track,. This was in the late 50's and early 60's. I left Montana on 1964 when I went in the service and didn't manage to get back until the late 70's and I couldn't believe how the railroad had changed.
     
  15. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    What brought the railroad down was deceptive accounting and incompetent officers, leading a planned destruction. An "Enron" of it's time. Lines West was all paid for decades beforehand. It put a positive cash flow into company coffers through 1977. The electrics were an entirely positive cash flow, covering all of their costs and putting money in the bank. After the winter of 1977-78, with the deliberate (documented) destruction of the diesel fleet, the ordered ending of any upkeep out west, (furloughing most m-o-w forces, withdrawing equipment, cutting off supplies), management driving away shippers, it fell apart fast and as desired. If the same was done to NP, GN, BN, BNSF, UP AT&SF, etc, they'd fall apart just as fast and in the exact same way!
     
  16. ddechamp71

    ddechamp71 TrainBoard Member

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    It would be interresting to wonder if MILW's mismanagement and finally its demise weren't "submarine handled" by competitors...

    Dom
     
  17. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    That was definitely a factor. From a BN Veep influencing a governor to the continual negative propaganda- Which too many simply accept at face value, and too lazily will not delve DEEPLY into for facts. The data is there. From revealed double entry bookkeeping, (during the "bankruptcy" proceedings), to perjury in the testimony, to "expert" witnesses completely shown unqualified to speak and so much more.

    Folks need to understand this all started BEFORE the MILW ever began building west. Good old Saint Jimmy Hill and his ilk began beating the drums, knowing they'd take a hit in the wallet having additional competition. He'd already been nailed due to his Northern Securities activities and that stock manipulation, this was the next blow to his domination aspirations. It continues to this day, driven by a few desperate worshipers of ol' JJ, who continually substitute personal opinion for fact.
     
  18. ladybngnfan

    ladybngnfan TrainBoard Member

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    I hate to go into a 'Johnny Gage Rant', but I did not start this thread to get into a big debate on what caused the Milwaukee to go bankrupt for that final time. I started this thread to get some ideas on how my story could play out for if there was still a Milwaukee Road. Will you please derail the train that seems determined to hijack my ideas for my story into that debate, and help me get some ideas for how this story could go? Thank you very much.

    And for those of you who don't know who Johnny Gage was, find a tv program from the 70s called "Emergency!", and watch it, and you'll see what a Johnny Gage rant is!
     
  19. montanan

    montanan TrainBoard Member

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    You could reference back to when the Milwaukee Road had the fastest transit times from the west coast. You could work out something where the management did finally realize that the profits for the railroad were coming in from the line to the Pacific and that the money losing part of the railroad was in the mid west where there was extremely heavy competition. Realizing that, the profits from the line to the pacific were turned back into maintaining the track and instead of dropping electrification right at the time when there was the oil embargo, that they were saving a lot of additional money by keeping the electrified divisions, and possibly expanding them
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2015
  20. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    That won't help but to drive away folks who might be willing to help with input. It's not sidetracked that badly.

    You earlier admitted "...must admit my knowledge of the Milwaukee is a bit limited. It's one of my favorite railroads, but I don't have a huge amount of knowledge." There is usually some sort of back story. In order for your theme to have some basis, you need to know where it was, in order to build around that to an imagined continuance. What has been talked about is the era to avoid and should give you an idea of how to re-imagine to the present.
     
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