N.P. Ry.

Tempest in the Timber

by J. A. Phillips, III


Dreams of Empire in the Pacific Northwest


Our revels now are ended. These our actors,

As I foretold you, were all spirits, and

Are melted into air, into thin air:

And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,

The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces,

The solemn temples, the great globe itself,

Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve...


On May 7, 1892, Captain Robert Gray sailed the good ship Columbia into a harbor 14 by 16 miles across – some 97 square miles of water – on the southwestern coast of what became Washington State. [1] He promptly named the harbor Bulfinch, after the wealthy Boston Brahmin who had commissioned the voyage. [2] What Gray had no way of knowing was that a century later, when the rails arrived, the harbor, the county that encompassed it, a city, and even the rail line itself would all be named after him.

            The Gray's Harbor Branch stretched 100.5 miles from St. Clair to Moclips on the Pacific Ocean in its heyday, and was always thought of in terms of that one industry which is synonymous with the dank temperate rain forests of western Washington; timber. In truth, it is a perfect example of the dreams of empire men of the 18th century conjured and constructed across the Pacific Northwest. While timber may have paid the rent in later years, the reason the rails were pushed to the Pacific was the pride of the Palouse; grain. Grain, by the bushels, by the millions. The line that carried timber by the millions of board feet began as cut-throat competition, tangled webs of intrigue, and empire building – all set against the backdrop of the longest running railroad rivalry in the Pacific Northwest. Our corporate players in this story were the Northern Pacific Railroad and the Oregon Railroad and Navigation Company. The Northern Pacific was chartered in 1864 as the second of the transcontinental railroads, and had been fighting its way west ever since the 1870s. Its main line, completed in 1883, used a roundabout route to get from the Great Lakes to Puget Sound. This including running from the present day Tri-Cities area of eastern Washington westward on Navigation’s rails along the south bank of the Columbia into Portland, Oregon. From there it traveled over a portion of the future Spokane Portland and Seattle Railway’s Astoria Line to a point in Oregon directly opposite Kalama, Washington. The Northern Pacific then jumped the Columbia River on a ferry and rode north into Tacoma, its western terminus, through Centralia, Tenino, and Yelm.

            The reason for this southerly detour was Ferdinand Heinrich Gustav Hilgard. Henry Villard, as he came to be known, born in Germany, the son of a respected jurist. He emigrated to America in 1853 and spent the next ten years as a journalist and editor, covering the Lincoln-Douglas debates and the Civil War. Returning to Germany for a few years at the beginning of the 1870s, he was eventually tapped by financial interests there to straighten out transportation holdings in Oregon Country. In just a few short years Henry Villard was building, rationalizing, and monopolizing the transportation system of the Pacific Northwest. Seeing the completion of the Northern Pacific as a threat to his fiefdom, he collected a Blind Pool of $8 million dollars and took control of the Northern Pacific, becoming its president in September, 1881. For the next three years he pushed the Northern Pacific through to its gold spike, while continuing to move Northern Pacific traffic over the rails of the other Northwest road under his control, the Navigation. While Villard completed the long struggling Northern Pacific, his ultimate goal was simply maintenance of the status quo. John F. Due states “His primary objective was to block the Northern Pacific from building to Puget Sound and instead force it to use [Navigation] for its connection to Portland.” [3]

            Ironically, it may well be that the vast amounts of money it took Villard to complete the Northern Pacific undermined his grasp, and ultimately helped long-standing Northern Pacific interests to oust him from the road. The year of 1884 found Henry Villard returning to Europe to lick his wounds. As Villard recuperated the Northern Pacific gathered its forces and pushed its Cascade Branch across Stampede Pass to the tide flats of Tacoma. Completed at the end of May, 1888, Stampede Pass spelled trouble for Navigation and doomed the aspirations of the principle city in the Pacific Northwest up to that time, Portland. That which Villard had sought to prevent had come true.

            Henry Villard proved to be a hard man to keep down. In 1887 he was back at the helm of Navigation, and back on the board of the Northern Pacific (where he had turned down a second presidency). [4] From 1888 to the Panic of 1893 (which brought receiverships for both the Northern Pacific and the Union Pacific), intrigue, over-extension and empire building was be the order of the day.



The approach of the Gilded Age found the Northern Pacific and Navigation battling fiercely to gird the Palouse Country of southeastern Washington with their iron. That which they did not build themselves, they bought from small-time railroad entrepreneurs such as Dorsey Syng Baker, or George Washington Hunt.

            George W. Hunt entered the northwest railroad picture in 1887 as a sub-contractor building the Oregon and Washington Territory Railroad. Oregon and Washington Territory was at best a year old when Hunt went to work, having been dreamt up by a group of Oregon businessmen in Umatilla County. Their goal was straightforward enough – drive the iron from Wallula, Washington Territory, near the confluence of the Columbia and Snake rivers, some 40 miles south to at Pendleton, Oregon and a connection with Navigation's line to Portland. With the backing of long-time Northern Pacific investors like Charles Barstow Wright of Philadelphia, Oregon and Washington Territory got underway. Soon enough Hunt, Wright, and the Oregon and Washington Territory were expanding into a an petite empire in the Walla Walla area. And Hunt began buying up Oregon and Washington Territory stock. [5]

            Hunt entered into what was then the classic Northwest railroad scheme, perfected by the Northern Pacific itself in the shenanigans of “terminus fever” more than a decade before. He would go the to a community and demand tribute – a free right of way, choice downtown land, and a generous cash subsidies. For this he would bring his rails right to your community's doorstep. Walla Walla gave him $100,000, Waitsburg some $75,000, Columbia County $30,000, and Pendleton was shaken down for $15,000 and change, along with an additional $30,000 on the installment plan. [6] As Hunt moved south toward the Blue Mountains of eastern Oregon the figures skyrocketed. Residents of Union County were asked for $180,000, and had subscribed some $132,000 by April, 1889. [7]

            By 1890 the little Oregon and Washington Territory had become a growing system; 40 miles from Hunt's Junction, Wash., to Pendleton, Oregon; 14 miles from Stanton Junction, Oregon, to Centerville (later Athena), Oregon; 88 miles from Hunt's Junction to Dayton, Washington; 20 miles from Eureka Junction, Washington, to Estes (later Pleasant View), Washington. [8] But the continued growth of the Hunt System was not to be. With the return of Henry Villard to the Northern Pacific and Navigation, Hunt lost the one thing which was more important than cash subsidies – low rates over the Northern Pacific which allowed him to compete with the rival Navigation. Pacific Northwest railroad chronicler Peter J. Lewty writes in his epic Across the Columbia Plain that “[Hunt] had promised his supporters that he would carry grain to Puget Sound at rates equal to those charged by [Navigation] for carrying it to Portland. This promise had been written into the subsidy agreements. If he failed to honor it, he might lose the subsidies and his whole financial house of cards could topple. The only avenue of escape was to extend the [Oregon and Washington Territory] through to the coast as an independent railway.” [9] The agreements that influential Northern Pacific Director Charles Wright had guaranteed fell by the wayside, and as the 1890s dawned, Hunt called a halt to his railroading building. Out of desperation, the race that would form the Northern Pacific's Gray's Harbor Line began.

            Hunt's obvious next move was to go to the powers that be. In that day, that meant the Portland Board of Trade. In February, 1890, he asked the Board to take two million dollars worth of Oregon and Washington Territory 40-year bonds to help the road build west to the Portland area from Wallula. This was not his ultimate goal, however. [10] What Hunt wanted was not a riverport but a seaport, in this case, the newly platted town of Gray's Harbor City. Citizens there, and those of the surrounding communities of Aberdeen, Hoquiam and Montesano had dreams as big as Hunt's, and had pledged $750,000 for the building of a rail link to the Northern Pacific at Centralia. And it certainly did not hurt that Hunt was a landowner in the seaport to be. [11] If he could build a line from Gray's Harbor City to Centralia, Portland, the powerhouse of the Northwest, was just a hundred miles away. The Hunt System would rival the size of the Northern Pacific's main line mileage in western Washington, if it could just be completed.

            It was not to be. Threatened, the Northern Pacific first announced it would build to Gray's Harbor via Olympia, Washington. Then it bought up the 40-mile long Puget Sound and Gray's Harbor Railroad from the Port Blakeley Mill Company. [12] Puget Sound and Gray’s Harbor had been offered 75 acres, along with a free right of way and station grounds to build down to Montesano. Port Blakeley's road was happy to oblige, as the acreage alone was worth $20,000. In 1889 it pushed its way down the Kamilche Valley from Puget Sound, then struck out along Wildcat Creek for Elma and Montesano. Its first train arrived in Montesano November 16, 1890. [13]

            As Hunt's Centralia and Gray's Harbor crews were grading towards Gray's Harbor City from Centralia in June of 1890, the Northern Pacific used this recently completed road to steal a nine mile march on Hunt into the Chehalis River valley. For a moment Hunt caught up. The Northern Pacific's construction crews building south to Olympia bogged down, and Hunt's Centralia and Gray's Harbor put its first train into Montesano in January, 1891. The Northern Pacific then blocked Hunt by claiming he owed the road $135,000. An attachment soon followed against Hunt's Centralia and Gray's Harbor. Progress on Hunt's railroads ground to a halt as he became locked out of financial markets. Forced to sell out to Charles Wright's interests, he stayed on as president of the company, only to see it offered for sale to Villard's Northern Pacific. [14]

            By this time however, Henry Villard was cutting back on the Northern Pacific's branch building; part of an effort to forestall the road's second financial collapse – something which would quickly follow during the Panic of 1893. Villard passed on the Hunt roads and in August, 1892, a group of Walla Walla businessmen and Wright bought up the system in the name of the Washington and Columbia River Railroad. This too went bust under worsening economic conditions, emerged from receivership in May, 1895, and was sold less than three years later to the Northwestern Improvement Company, itself an arm of the newly reorganized (and renamed) Northern Pacific Railway. [15]



While Hunt and Villard fought it out, the Northern Pacific's construction crews worked their way south. The Northern Pacific formed the Tacoma, Olympia and Gray's Harbor on May 7, 1890. Into this was folded Port Blakeley's Puget Sound and Gray’s Harbor, as well as the Tacoma, Olympia and Pacific, a “paper” road formed in 1889 which had some attractive land holdings in Ocosta-by-the-Sea. [16] Tacoma, Olympia and Gray's Harbor bridged the Chehalis River at Junction City in 1891, and reached the south side of Gray's Harbor at Ocosta-by-the-Sea in 1892. [17] Both Hunt and the Northern Pacific had chosen to create their own terminal cities on Gray's Harbor, Hunt with his Gray's Harbor City, and the Northern Pacific with Ocosta. Neither amounted to much in the long run, and both went through busts within a few years of their creation. The most important cities on Gray's Harbor – Aberdeen and Hoquiam – were left high and dry.

            As early as 1891, the Northern Pacific had second thoughts about Ocosta. It offered, on September 24, 1891, to build a line into Aberdeen if the city would donate depot grounds, build a depot costing no less than $2,500 and donate the right-of-way through streets and private property. The city did not accept. [18]

            In 1893, the Northern Pacific was back in Aberdeen with another offer. At the time the Northern Pacific had just floated a $12,000,000 bond issue under the terms that there would be no new construction. To work around this limitation the city was asked to pay the cost of building the line, estimated at $35,000, for which the Northern Pacific would reimburse those who provided the financing with a 50 percent rebate on freight charges. The city met to consider the offer but decided that it could not raise the money and once again turned down the proposal. [19]

            At least as stubborn as the feuding railroad heads, the citizens of Aberdeen in 1894 set out to put their town on the railroad map on their own. They were aided by the fact that Northern Pacific had done much of the grading in 1893 before calling a halt to things as the economy worsened. [20] To finish the line, local business leaders donated rail salvaged from the hold of the British bark Abercorn, which had been wrecked off the entrance to Gray's Harbor in January, 1888. The Portland-bound rails which had sat the sea for six years. Local history has it that “Early day travelers said they could always tell when they go to the Aberdeen branch by the rattle of the train wheels over the pitted rails.” [21] Mill owners stepped in to donate ties. Finally, the able-bodied of Aberdeen were called upon to donate ten days’ work – the affluent were called upon for $20. Young men were given time off from school to work on the line and the whole town would turn out on weekends. [22] Together the citizens of Aberdeen accomplished their task, put up a depot on East Wishkah Street in East Aberdeen. [23] On April 1, 1895, the first train steamed into Aberdeen, welcomed by a brass band. [24]

            Hoquiam, which required two substantial drawbridges to reach, as well as substantial prodding by lumberman Harry C. Heermans, waited another four years for the Northern Pacific's trains to arrive. On his History of Railroads in Grays Harbor Web page Mike Davison states: “On October 21, 1898, the Northern Pacific extended the line over the Wishkaw River, through central Aberdeen and on to Hoquiam. The 4.6 mile extension largely replacing the plank road that had been built between 1888 and 1890. The Hoquiam extension was financed with a construction loan from the Gray’s Harbor Company, which on occasion used the name ‘Gray’s Harbor Northern Railroad’ to secure construction estimates without divulging to contractors their relationship with the Northern Pacific. The Gray's Harbor Company was comprised of Henry Heermans and George Emerson, both of Hoquiam, along with Heermans’ long-time friend and business partner from Duluth, Minnesota, Chester Congdon. The Gray’s Harbor Company’s construction loan was to cover the costs of preparing the roadbed for the laying of rails, including the cost of bridges over the Wishkah and Hoquiam rivers. The loan was to be repaid, with three percent interest, out of non-lumber gross earnings from this extension.” When the line was extended, the Northern Pacific put up nearly identical passenger stations in Aberdeen and Hoquiam. [25]

            Construction continued through Hoquiam towards the Pacific. In 1902 the Northern Pacific pushed the line to a mile beyond Tulips, a mile-and-a-half short of Copalis. In 1905 they pushed again, up along the Pacific to Moclips, a small beach resort, which became a moderately successful summer vacation spot for people in the larger cities on Puget Sound. [26] In addition to the tourist traffic, this 27.8 mile extension, carried logs to the harbor mills from areas which could not be reached via rivers. [27] The post turn of the century extension north along the Pacific Ocean, combined with the failed terminal building at Ocosta-by-the-Sea left the Northern Pacific with a forked tongue at the end its line to Gray’s Harbor. The newer portion, built to out to the resort towns north of Aberdeen and Hoquiam became part of the Tacoma Division’s Sixteenth Sub-Division, or Gray’s Harbor Branch. The southerly fork to Ocosta and Markham became the Twentieth Sub-Division, or Ocosta Branch. [28]



It took almost 20 years for the Northern Pacific's competition to arrive on Gray's Harbor. The rumblings began in 1906 when the Gray's Harbor and Puget Sound Railroad was incorporated in Washington on May 31 of that year. The property was quickly snapped up by the Union Pacific's Edward Henry Harriman, who just as quickly pigeonholed it. [29] What was slowing Harriman down was the fact that he had no main line into the area to connect this potential branch to – his rail head was 100 miles to the south in Portland. The Northern Pacific already had one which was more than up to the job, all Harriman needed was a way to get the Northern Pacific to let his trains run over it.

            Harriman believed as early as 1901 that he could gain entrance to the Puget Sound region from Portland by way of the Northern Pacific's rails, according to Union Pacific attorney and author Jeff Asay. [30] Those trackage rights took him nearly a decade's worth of surveying, small-time construction, and negotiating to achieve. Harriman's first thought was to offer the Northern Pacific title to lands it held on the north bank of the Columbia in exchange for use of the Northern Pacific's rails into Tacoma. Covering some 18 miles of right-of-way this land had the potential of blocking the progress of the Great Northern Railway and the Northern Pacific's work on what would become the Spokane, Portland and Seattle Railway, but Northern Pacific President Howard Elliott quickly rebuffed Harriman's advances. Next, Union Pacific forces incorporated the Washington Northern Railway, and began buying up terminal properties in its name. This paper railroad was quickly supplanted by the Oregon and Washington Railroad, incorporated just a few months later. This company took over the rights and property of the Washington Northern and began surveying north from Portland. [31]

            Surveyors mapped out a route that closely paralleled the Northern Pacific main line as far north as Wabash, Washington, just north of Centralia. The line then ran east towards Tono and Roy. From this latter point it followed the Northern Pacific's Prairie Line, its original main line between Kalama and Tacoma built in the early 1870s. To ease the grade the Union Pacific projected a tunnel from South Tacoma to downtown Tacoma, where it again followed the Prairie Line, until finally connecting with the Milwaukee Road. The line would use Milwaukee Road trackage for the next 26 miles, to Black River Junction, then diverge again to carry Union Pacific trains on their own rails the final ten miles into Seattle. [32]

            Harriman's construction efforts on this proposed line were enough to make the Northern Pacific begin negotiations about trackage rights for the Union Pacific into Tacoma. While St. Paul bickered, Omaha built. By July 1, 1909 Union Pacific interests had a branch from Tono to Wabash in place and opened for business. [33] While Omaha pressed the Northern Pacific, so did Great Northern chieftain James Jerome Hill – if Union Pacific trains would be rolling over the Northern Pacific, so would those of the Great Northern. What the Northern Pacific finally conceded to was “full trackage rights between Vancouver and Tacoma would be granted for a yearly rental plus a proportionate share of expenses. The rental would be reduced if the Great Northern also gained trackage rights, which seemed virtually certain.” [34]

            The Northern Pacific and the Union Pacific put ink on paper in the fall of 1909 – the trackage rights to commence on January 1, 1910. [35] Both the Great Northern and the Union Pacific used the Prairie Line between Tacoma and Tenino from 1909 until after World War Two. From 1912 on the Northern Pacific's own trains used the newly built Point Line, a mostly water level grade which followed Puget Sound and avoided the Prairie Line's steep climb out of Tacoma. [36] While Harriman was maneuvering his way onto the Northern Pacific's rails, he finally began the process of building the Gray's Harbor and Puget Sound, shelved since 1906. As part of the cooperation with the Milwaukee Road in western Washington, the Milwaukee was sold a half interest in the line in January, 1909. [37]

            The Milwaukee's connection to the branch was even more complicated than Harriman's. The Milwaukee had long been wooing Tacoma Eastern Railroad head John Bagley. The Tacoma Eastern extended southeast from Tacoma to the foot of Mt. Rainier, then rolled even further south through the back country of western Washington. When Milwaukee trackage rights over Tacoma Eastern rails ran out, the Milwaukee simply built lines off the ends of Tacoma Eastern rail heads, eventually putting Milwaukee trains into Olympia, Maytown, Chehalis and Raymond on Willapa Harbor. [38] The strange system of Class I and logging railroad was unified when the Milwaukee bought up the Tacoma Eastern in 1918. [39] Construction began in March, 1909, at Helsing Junction (originally “Portola,” 12 miles west of Centralia), working its way west. Track laying began that September. [40] The branch ran along south side of the Chehalis River valley, roughly paralleling the Northern Pacific line in the north. The new arrivals learned from the Northern Pacific's blunder in Ocosta and ran their line directly to Aberdeen. It was opened to traffic on as far as Aberdeen on August 15, 1910. On September 23, 1911, an extension to Hoquiam was opened. The three roads built joint facilities in both Aberdeen and Hoquiam, putting in a small engine facility in the latter city. The only construction which followed was a short line from Montesano to South Montesano, which opened May 30, 1913. [41] The Union Pacific headquartered its operations at the big Centralia depot, even running a dispatcher's office on the second floor for a time. [42]



Within a decade of the Northern Pacific's arrival on Gray's Harbor, things started to burn down. First to go were the forests. In the summer of 1902, conflagrations swept the Pacific Northwest from Puget Sound to Portland. The long hot burn erupted from nowhere, going from scattered reports on September 7 to front page news by September 12. [43] By that date, the skies were black in many towns as fires raged. Centralia, Shelton, Elma, and Olympia all suffered – with Centralia reporting midnight-like darkness at 10 A.M. People in Montesano were reported as having decided that the end of the world had come. Elma bore the brunt of the fires, at least in the Gray's Harbor area, with homes and some seven mills being burned. A fire started there, then burned its way north to Puget Sound at Shelton and Olympia. [44] Untold millions of board feet of lumber went up in smoke.

            Next to go were the towns themselves. The wood-framed timber towns had little security against fire, and in 1903, Aberdeen proved she was no different from big American cities that had been turned to cinders.

            On the morning of October 16, 1903, Fire Chief E. L. Koehler was painting a house when his attention was drawn suddenly to the three-story Mack Building on Hume Street which housed the Arctic Hotel – smoke was billowing from the windows. Before he could ring the fire bell the flames were moving northwesterly into a saloon and variety store. Shortly afterward the fire station itself started to burn, along with a city block bounded by Heron, Hume, F and G streets. The fire then ate up the supposedly fire-proof brick buildings in town, among them consuming a bank and pharmacy. The fire was now running westerly along both sides of Heron Street to Broadway, and to Wishkah and Market streets. On the north side of Heron as far as Broadway and G every building succumbed to the flames. On the south side of Heron all but two fell as well. By the time the fire was brought under control 20 acres of the business district in Aberdeen, as well as the residences which surrounded it had been destroyed. This happened only after the fire had killed three, leveled 140 buildings, and fire-fighters as far away as Montesano had arrived. The damaged from the blaze was pegged at $600,000 – nearly the amount that had been promised to lure a railroad to Gray's Harbor in the first place. [45]

            Far more deadly to the populace than the fires were the residents themselves. One in particular, Billy Gohl by name, stood out as a greater menace to life and limb than any saw blade or boiler explosion. Gohl is reputed to have blown up, shot, drown to circumvent his would-be competitors.

            He drifted into the Gray's Harbor area in about 1900, with little or no past. Going from barkeep to agent for the Sailor's Union, it began to be rumored that he “picked up bonus money by recruiting seamen, usually unconscious, for misery ships that called at the Wishkah mills for lumber.”

            He must have found his place in life, for soon enough Aberdeen was among the first west coast ports to have a union hiring hall. The seriousness with which Gohl took his job is illustrated by Northwest author Murray Morgan. “In 1905 the captain of the lumber schooner Fearless, sneaked a non-union crew aboard, cast off, and headed for the Pacific. Billy recruited a boarding party, commandeered a launch, and put out after her. The seagoing pickets were sighted as they approached the schooner in the dark. Somebody started shooting. The gun battle lasted half an hour before the Fearless escaped over the bar, which was too rough for the launch.” Arrested for the incident and charged with aggravated assault (elevated in the local press to “piracy”) he was fined $1,200, to which Morgan reports he replied “It'll be worth every penny of it, for advertising.”

            Local color that he might appear to be today, the results of his work were far more sinister. “During one eight-month period while Gohl was active forty-three bodies were found floating in Grays Harbor. Some had been shot, some slugged, a few showed evidence of poison, and the majority appeared simply to have drowned after falling or being pushed into the water while drunk. These anonymous dead men, culled from the hordes of migrant laborers who had flocked to Grays Harbor to cut trees, came to be known as the Floater Fleet. Billy Gohl was credited with launching most of them. If he was responsible for even half of the floaters found in the harbor during his day, Gohl was America's most prolific murderer. Over a ten year period the fleet numbered 124.”

            The law caught up with Gohl eventually, after someone started looking for Charley Hatberg. “You won't find him,” Gohl is reported to have said, “He's sleeping off Indian Creek with an anchor for a pillow.” When the tide went out the county sheriff found Charley Hatberg right where Gohl had left him. [46]



Fires and felons aside, that which replaced George Washington Hunt's dream of whisking Walla Walla wheat sacks to the sea was the singing of saw blades. For 40 some years following the arrival of the rails, Gray's Harbor County built itself up as one of the pre-eminent lumber capitals of Washington, a state not known for small mills.

            By 1911 there were 15 mills in the towns on Gray's Harbor. The mills could cut 600,000 board feet of timber a day, cut 300,000 shingles a day, cut 125,000 feet of lath a day. Gray's Harbor included sash and door factories, furniture factories, box factories, a veneer plant, a pulp mill, and factory devoted to producing piano sounding boards. [47] The combined population of the two largest towns, Aberdeen and Hoquiam, stood at about 25,000 people. [48]

            The local boosters brochures of the day boast of cutting competition of the day. One mill cut 541,000 feet in a single day – another 460,000 in 20 hours. The Hoquiam Lumber and Shingle Company had a daily capacity of 760,000 shingles. Polson Brothers, the biggest timber company in the world, had cut 132 million board feet in 1908. [49] The timber they cut seemed turned to gold, gold in the form of cash money, money for the railroads, money for the mill owners, money for the mill hands. By 1910, it had created a county of timber workers receiving an annual payroll of ten million dollars, working for 50 mills that could turn a forest into three million board feet of lumber every ten hours. [50] It was just the beginning.

            It should be noted that Gray's Harbor was strained going both directions. On the way up the towns roiled through turbulent strikes, often led by the wild men of the woods, the International Workers of the World, or “Wobblies” as they were colloquially known. In March of 1912 the Wobblies set off a strike in Aberdeen and Raymond, just to the south on Willapa Harbor, after mill owners rejected a demand for higher wages. On March 24 local American Federation of Labor affiliates denounced the strike and things took a turn for the worse. Vigilantes took it upon themselves to put down the strike. “The IWW headquarters were raided, the leaders were arrested, and as many of the men as could be rounded up were forced to leave Aberdeen, being ‘escorted’ from the city by vigilantes. At Hoquiam, at the same time, 150 strikers were loaded into boxcars for deportation. But, with the mayor opposing the act, the railway company refused to move the cars, and the men were released.” Though vigilantes continued their attempts at deportation, the strike did not end. It settled, as most things seemed to, against the Wobblies. A citizen's committee “proposed that the with strike be settled on the basis of a minimum wage of $2.25 a day, preference for American labor and exclusion of all IWW members. This was accepted by the operators, and, because crews were secured, the strike was lost in spite of the fact that the IWW attempted to have it spread to all lumber workers in western Washington.” [51]

            With or without agitation, Gray's Harbor County was headed towards the high point of its timber career in the decade ahead. In 1922, Aberdeen was home to some 12 logging, mill, and timber companies. Abbey's Logger's Blue Book records the count: Aberdeen Lumber and Shingle –165,000 feet a day; American Mill – 140,000; Anderson-Middleton –165,000; Bay City Lumber – 160,000; E. K. Bishop – 150,000; Hulbert Mill – 130,000; Saginaw Timber – 75,000; Western Mill Company of Aberdeen – 140,000; Wilson Brothers – 140,000; Donovan Lumber – 300,000. Hoquiam followed close behind with nine mills: Eureka Cedar – 150,000; Northwest Lumber – 125,000; E. K. Wood – 150,000; Hoquiam Lumber and Shingle – 200,000; National Lumber and Manufacturing – 250,000; Gray's Harbor Lumber – 350,000. In Hoquiam, the consolidation into a smaller number of huge mills had begun. [52]

            By 1925 the 112 mills of Gray's Harbor County employed 11,000 people with an annual payroll of $17 million, maintained 340 miles of logging railroad, and could cut 4.8 million board feet in eight hours. [53] That year, the mills would cut about 1.3 billion board feet, and were already aiming for 1.6 billion the next. That decade, the mills of the county cut about 20 percent of Washington State's total – year in, year out. [54]

            The bubble burst with the onset of the Great Depression. In 1929 the county produced nearly as many board feet as the heady year of 1925. In 1930 however, this number dropped precipitously – to about 790 million board feet. In 1931 it fell again, this time to about 420 million board feet. In 1932 it dropped for the third straight year, to about 220 million board feet. [55] What had been a torrent of timber had slowed to a trickle, and a generation would pass without the county being able to produce more than ten percent of the state's total of board feet. Gray's Harbor County had fallen into a coma from which it has never fully recovered.

            The terrible fall was made worse by strife and strikes. In 1934 a longshoreman's strike shut down west coast waterfronts for some 84 days. Gray's Harbor, frequented by some 650 vessels in 1923, became a stranger to shipping. [56]

            “Foreign steamship operators were forced to route their vessels and cargoes via British Columbia ports during the long tie-up of American ports and some of them, having transferred their major Northwest functions north of the border, retained them there. Indicative of the tremendous advantage enjoyed by Canada during the strike is the lumber shipment barometer.

            “A total of only 2,748,920,847 feet was shipped from all Northwest ports. Washington exports totaled only 1,294,942,925 feet, a figure which Gray's Harbor alone had approached during the boom years, and a decline of over a quarter of a billion feet over the depression figures of 1933.

            “Oregon shipments dropped to 594,513,208 feet, but British Columbia, a negligible factor in pre-Depression figures, showed almost a 30 percent gain in 1934 over 1933, reaching a total of 859,464,714 feet, approaching the Washington figure and far exceeding that of Oregon.” [57]

            The following year the mill workers went out. May 6, 1935, saw some 10,000 men on strike. One attempt to open the mills of Aberdeen was stopped by an enormous picket line of nearly 2,000. “A clash with the police occurred when it was discovered that a gravel thoroughfare near one of the mills had been strewn with roofing nails.” In a little over a month the governor had sent in the National Guard, who were stationed around the mills to ensure those who wished to work could do so. Almost a month passed before a vote was held in Tacoma on August 5. The vote went 1,391 to 97 to accept a settlement, but the mill workers in Gray's Harbor stayed out. Only on August 20 did Gray's Harbor County strikers bend to the mediation efforts of a brigadier from the Washington National Guard. [58]

            Even after the effects of the Great Depression wore off, the timber economy remained stagnant. Between 1940 and 1950 there was less than two tenths of one percent population growth in the county, and employment in the timber industry had barely risen above the level at the beginning of the decade, despite the boom times of World War Two. State social workers looking into the morose conditions stated flatly “The principal factor is that no entirely new industries have found there way into the industrial make up of the county.” In 1948, 93 percent of the total manufacturing payroll in the county came from logging and lumber, 75 percent of the people in the county were likely relying upon, directly or indirectly, the timber industry for their livelihood. [59] Gray's Harbor was living, and dying, by the axe.

            Tiny Elma was no different then her mill town sisters. Saw timber in the area surrounding the town had fallen from six billion to 500 million board feet by 1938. That year was especially cruel; the year giant Mumby Lumber and Shingle Company mill in nearby Malone closed. Lumber production in the county fell to less than 200 million board feet, just 5.8 percent of the state total, the smallest figure in the 30 years between 1920 and 1950, a figure even lower than that of 1932. As the mill and the timber went so did the workers – the mill had employed a full third of the area's loggers. By 1940, those employed in the timber industry in Elma had decreased by 40 percent, to a thousand or so. Prosperity showed every sign of leaving Elma behind. All that remained were 39,000 deforested acres. [60]



The Eighteenth Sub-Division of the Tacoma Division formed a cut off between the Sixteenth Sub- Division, the old Tacoma, Olympia and Gray’s Harbor coming south from Olympia, and the rail hub of Centralia on the Third Sub-Division; the Seattle to Portland main line. The Tacoma, Olympia and Gray’s Harbor covered nearly 29 miles from St. Clair on the double track main to Portland to the woods at Gate. It included a drop in and out of pit to reach Olympia (where the rails rose and fell 250 feet each way in the space of seven miles of 1.55 and 1.6 grades). [61] Traffic on this portion of the Sixteenth Sub-Division dropped off after the last Seattle to Gray's Harbor passenger run was pulled off on February 2, 1956. [62]

            In its place the Northern Pacific used the Eighteenth Sub-Division, built in 1891 through Grand Mound and Rochester, and covering a scant 14 mile run out of Centralia – all of which was down hill. Through the 1930s the Northern Pacific had run Doodlebug shuttles between Centralia and Gate to connect with the two, sometimes three, trains each way between Seattle and Gray's Harbor. [63]



What became the Nineteenth Sub-Division of the Tacoma Division started almost as an afterthought. Starting at Elma, 38 and a half miles south of Olympia, it initially ran north only as far as the important mill town of Shelton in Mason County. Constructed in 1889, the last 15 miles of the line were extensively rebuilt in 1925.

            The un-rebuilt portion consisted of a ten mile stretch moving directly north from Elma. Two miles out of town the line went through a sag, then spent the next eight miles climbing 250 feet on mostly one percent grades. At Stimson trains rolled onto the 1925-built line, half a mile beyond they reached the summit of the first hill, then plunged 400 feet in seven miles. With two sags shortly before the town of Marmac, and one beyond it, one wonders what the pre-1925 line looked like. At Mile Post 17 the line climbed again, 200 feet in two miles flat with a maximum 1.5 percent grade which topped out at a point the Northern Pacific appropriately entitled “Doubling Spur.” The remaining five or so miles were spent on a downgrade into Shelton proper. [64] There, with tidewater and timber attained, the Northern Pacific halted its march. It took the marching of fleets and troops across the Pacific in World War Two to rekindle railroad building in the area.

            In 1945 the Bremerton Navy Yard (Puget Sound Naval Shipyard) was one of the most important repair facilities on the Pacific Coast. It was certainly the most important west coast yard without a rail connection. Munitions moving into the area went to Seattle and elsewhere to be barged across Puget Sound. Costly and time consuming, the barge work illustrated the need for an all-rail route. The hazards of moving great quantities of ammunition over the piers of the most populace places on Puget Sound also caused consternation. The U.S. Navy did not have a perfect track record in handling war material, having leveled Port Chicago in a munitions explosion, and Seattle was not exactly a welcome place to put the dangerous stuff. During World War One, city ordinances in Seattle actually required explosives to be at least five miles out of town from sundown to sunup. The result then was for the box cars full of explosive materials to be sent to Auburn. When that city voiced its complaint the Northern Pacific simply shuffled them off to sidings in the woods of King County. [65]

            The Navy's answer was to form an all rail route right to their property, by extending the Elma Branch north to the shipyard at Bremerton, and the newly built naval magazine and wharf at nearby Bangor. As the facility at Bangor got underway in early 1944, so did the new rail line.

            The line was designed as a 40 mile run to Bangor, with a two spurs. The first spur ran from Bremerton Junction four and a half miles into Bremerton. The second ran from NAD (Naval Ammunition Depot) Junction to a magazine on Ostrich Bay, four miles northwest of Bremerton.

            Like the existing line out of Elma, the Navy's line consisted of a series of hills. The first climbed 200 feet from Shelton to Bay Shore, running from roughly Mile Post 25.2 to 28.7. The next 15 miles or so were done at a comparatively gentle roll until the line reached Mile Post 44, where another climb was started. In another four miles this reached the highest point on the line, 350 feet above sea level. The next six miles included two sags on the way to Belfair and Twin Lakes, followed by a hundred foot plunge to Bremerton Junction. Trains into Bremerton continued to descend, dropping another 200 feet into Bremerton, elevation 12. This included the toughest grade on the branch, 1.75 percent. Trains bypassing Bremerton for Bangor rose again, 100 feet in two miles, crested and fell another 200 feet into NAD Junction, staggered through Silverdale, and then climbed on a two and a half mile long 1.5 percent grade into Bangor. [66]

            The standards for the line included: 90 pound rail (overlooked whenever shortages occurred); curves of no greater than ten degrees; cuts no deeper than 100 feet and fills no higher than 80; minimum clearances of 14 feet, eight inches; horizontal clearances of 40 feet; a speed limit of 40 miles per hour. Due to high average rainfalls on the Olympic Peninsula, the Navy specified a wider than average roadbed. [67]

            Overseeing the project for the Navy Department's Bureau of Yards and Docks were Captain E. B. Keating in the field and Lieutenant Commander Fred Koerner, resident officer in charge of construction. [68] Grading of the four million cubic yards the job required was begun in May, 1944, and was completed in April of the following year. The first 27 miles were built by the General Construction, the remainder by Sound-Kewitt Construction, both of Seattle. Their work included building six highway overpasses, a bridge over Goldsborough Creek in Shelton, and a timber trestle. The largest bridge on the line measured out to 221 feet and consisted of two end spans of 62 feet and a center span of 97 feet. [69] The line consumed 462 acres for right-of-way in Mason County, 361 in Kitsap, not including 50 acres for the spur to Bremerton, and 14 acres for the spur to the Naval Ammunition Depot. The cost was about $8.7 million for the line, $21.5 million for the railroad and the new magazine facilities. [70]

            On April 14, 1944, the Navy handed over operations to the Northern Pacific, which handled the business as a contract carrier (as late as 1946 the Navy was still waiting to hear from the Interstate Commerce Commission if the Northern Pacific could have trackage rights over the line). While the Commission pondered the situation, the Navy and the Northern Pacific went to work. The Northern Pacific assigned service out of Centralia to Bangor via Gate and Elma. This run tied up over night and returned the following day out of Bremerton to Bremerton Junction, Bangor, running from there to Shelton, Elma, Gate and Centralia. Before the war ended, these runs had moved 6,006 loads for the Navy – 4,003 of which were munitions. [71] Post-war traffic beyond Shelton and Bay Shore dropped precipitously, only to be rekindled by Korea, Viet Nam, and the enlargement of facilities into Submarine Base Bangor.

            The years of 1967 and 1968 saw the Northern Pacific moving 100-car trains of bombs to Bangor three times a week. [72] In addition, the quiet predecessor of the notorious White Trains were sliding across Northern Pacific rails. Southern Pacific handed off Polaris missile motors in refrigerated trailers to the Northern Pacific in Portland. Once one of these loads arrived, the dispatcher's office in Tacoma Union Station was abuzz with work. The vans' temperatures had to be checked, agents and crews prepared up and down the line, crossings and close connections watched. The give-away was the arrival of a telegram covering a legal size page, addressed to no fewer than seven crews, four agents, two yardmasters, an express company employee (who was tasked with checking the temperatures and forwarding the report to the Navy), most of the divisional officers, and Allen B. Johnson, the Northern Pacific's Assistant General Superintendent of Transportation in Seattle. All for a train that was often little more than a locomotive, a flatcar, and a caboose by the time it reached Bangor. [73]



“The Gate Line and Harbor Branch had been attached to a dispatcher's position called the Point Line,” recalls retired Northern Pacific Dispatcher D. T. “Dave” Sprau. “This had the main line from Tacoma to Centralia, and then the Harbor, and probably the South Bend Branch. Right after I went into the Dispatcher's Office (in the mid-1960s) that Point Line job had been pulled off. The Northern Pacific they never should have pulled that job off. They gave the Double Track South the Point Line to handle, and they gave the Mountain dispatcher the Harbor to handle. They didn't get any extra money for it and they didn't have time to fool with it.

            “When you're working a territory between Auburn and Yakima, and you're intimately familiar with the territory between Auburn and Yakima, and you've got a lot of stuff going out there, you're geographically into that part of the state. You're picturing portions of the line and going over running times in your mind and to have to stop and do something between Centralia and Hoquiam is like driving down the road and then getting a call on a cell phone that requires concentration and has nothing to do with where you're going.

            “If somebody wanted me on the South Bend Branch, which was all done by Morse up until the very end, all I had to do was step on the foot pedal and they could hear all the train orders going out over the wire, clickety-clickety-click, and there was nothing more said. Everybody understood I was busy. The Northern Pacific put in a dispatcher's phone when they gave us the branch line down to Hoquiam in about 1966. And did they tie it in? So that somebody at Yakima could hear that you were working with Elma or Hoquiam? No, no, no – it was a different line! You couldn't put them together! I can remember putting out train orders – Extra West has right over Extra East, East Auburn to Yakima and wait at. . . Dispatcher Shelton! Dispatcher Hoquiam! Dispatcher Bremerton! Some idiot that wanted something that could wait!

            “An agent at Shelton who'd been a Morse man all his life--then they gave him this phone – and he really didn't know how to act on it. He'd say over and over again ‘Dispatcher Shell-Town!’ He'd just scream into that phone and sound like he was down at the bottom of a barrel. If you're busy with train orders, trying to do a good job, one minute you've got everything all thought out – what you're doing here and what you're next move is going to be and the next minute some guy is on there screaming because he doesn't know you're busy. ‘Dispatcher Shell-Town!’ And poof! About the second time it happens the whole thing is out of your head because it's starting to make you mad. It's making you mad number one because the guy is yelling at you, it's making you mad number two because the phones aren't tied together, and the guy that's doing it probably wouldn't be doing it if only he knew you were busy. The same foot pedal, the same mouth piece, and a toggle switch you flipped back and forth so there was no way of hooking them together. When you're really trying to dispatch the Mountain it was just an insignificant little nuisance.

            “This branch was attached to the ex-GN Coast Line, and the old GN main line around Spokane in later years, and I only dispatched it because I had to. At the time I was dispatching this track, my interest in it was somewhat less than zero.

            “This little branch line, that shouldn't have even been attached to main line track was such a pain in the butt in about 1967 and '68 when the bomb trains started up, and main line traffic increased to a great degree, I just considered it a pimple on somebody's hind end. I remember ignoring the branch line in the morning. Just letting everybody just sit on their butt – letting the trains wait for orders, letting the section men wait for their line ups – just telling those people down there that they were insignificant and not to bother me. I was busy on the main line, and I can remember company officers, including Chief Dispatcher Chuck Stillman, checked into this a couple of times, found out I was busy, and there was never anything said about ignoring that branch line.

            “It'd always been my secret wish that something leaving Centralia would derailed about a mile out of town and just torn everything up so I wouldn't have to contend with it anymore. I never felt that way about the South Bend Branch.” [74]


SONG OF 696 – OR – A SATURDAY IN MAY (May 21, 1966)

“In the latter half of the 1960s,” states Dave Sprau, “the Northern Pacific still had two regularly scheduled second class freights operating over the Gate Line and Gray's Harbor Branch – Numbers 695 and 696. Number 695 rolled onto the Eighteenth Sub-Division from Auburn and Centralia for the coast at 1:01 A.M. It reached the Milwaukee diamond at Blakeslee Junction at 1:10, Grand Mound – Mile Post 6.6, at 1:19, Rochester at 1:28, and Gate – Mile Post 13.8 at 1:35 A.M. There it rolled onto the Sixteenth Sub-Division for the run to Hoquiam. The next station from Gate was Oakville, at Mile Post 33.5, where 695 was scheduled to arrive at 1:44. Next came Porter at 1:59 A.M., then Mile Post 48 – Elma at 2:25. Satsop was scheduled for 2:32, Montesano for 2:43, and Aberdeen for 3:30. The train finally tied up at Hoquiam at 3:45 in the morning, having traveled 57.7 miles over the Sixteenth and Eighteenth sub-divisions.

            “Number 696 Departed at 4:15 in the afternoon, reaching Aberdeen at 4:45, Montesano at 5:15, Satsop at 5:32, Elma at 6:01, Porter at 6:19, Oakville at 6:40, and Gate at 6:55 P.M. The train fared slightly worse against the grades than its west bound sister, covering its stretch on the Sixteenth in two hours and 40 minutes, an additional half hour's running time over No. 695. Average track speed for 696 was a lackadaisical 16.4 miles an hour. Rolling onto the Eighteenth, No. 696 passed Rochester at 7:03, Grand Mound at 7:16, Blakeslee Junction at 7:28, and rolled into the yard at Centralia at 7:35 P.M. [75]

            “Numbers 695-696 had lap mileage crews, divided by mileage by crews from the North and South End of the division. Whenever the Harbor Highball's mileage came around to allow a crew from the North End on it, Auburn conductor Joe Schwartz would usually work it. This night No. 695 had Conductor Eddie Mitchell and Engineer Glastetter, a South End crew, who left Auburn with engines 338 and 335 (GP9s). They arrived at Centralia at 4:50 A.M. and left just five minutes later with seven loads and 39 empties for 1,465 tons. Next they made a set out at Elma, leaving around 6:30 A.M. with 1-26-848. They made another set out at Aberdeen and arrived in Hoquiam at 7:25 A.M. with 1-11-412, tying up at 8 A.M. On this day the crew's reports shows maximum 91, the highest number of cars handled at any one time – somewhere between Auburn and Centralia they had a helluva lot of cars.

            “Normal procedure was that when the crew had their rest, which would be at 4 P.M., they would go back on duty and run east as No. 696. On Saturday No. 696 was often annulled and the crew would return as an extra. This was because there was the possibility on a Saturday that No. 695 would get in early and be tied up by 5 or 6 A.M., allowing the crew to be rested earlier. If the crew had to wait until No. 696's scheduled departure time rolled around they would be unnecessarily delayed; dispatcher's simply annulled No. 696 and ran their train extra as a courtesy.

            “On this Saturday the crew was on duty at four o'clock in the afternoon. They left Hoquiam at 4:35 with 23-3-1,859, arrived Aberdeen at 4:45 and departed at 5:10 with 48-11-2,810. The train sheet shows a pick up of two loads and one empty at Elma, which was exactly the two and one that the Elma-Shelton job brought in at 11:15 that morning. Extra 335 East arrived at Centralia at 7:30 with 42-12-2,935. No tie up is shown because they ran through to Auburn, where the train would usually show up between eleven o'clock and midnight.

            “Number 967, Conductor W. A. Roberts, Engineer Gilman, and engine 226 left Centralia at 5:45 A.M. as a caboose hop. They arrived at Hoquiam at 9:35 A.M. with 1-6-170. This was a Saturday side move for local weekday service, and the crew did not return east that day.

            “The Northern Pacific also ran a Hoquiam-Cosmopolis-Markham local. This was based in Hoquiam and would take turns running south to Cosmopolis or north to Markham. This day Conductor Stearns, Engineer Olsen, and engine 124 went on duty at Hoquiam at 7:30 A.M., left town as a caboose hop at 7:45 A.M., arriving Aberdeen Junction at 8 A.M. They were on the road again at 8:10, still as a caboose hop, arriving at Markham at 9 A.M. After some switching, they left Markham at 10:15 A.M. with 3-3-297 and were back to Aberdeen Junction at 10:15 A.M., leaving for Hoquiam at 10:30 A.M.

            “The last Northern Pacific train for the day was the Gate Local, running from St. Clair to Olympia and back. The crew was Conductor Lund, Engineer Troll, on duty in Tacoma at 6:15 A.M., with engines 330 and 250 (GP9s). The train left St. Clair at 8:35 A.M. with 7-0-566, and arrived in Olympia at 9:45 A.M. with 6-0-510. An hour and 20 minutes later they were heading north, this time with six loads and one empty for 397 tons, reaching St. Clair at 11:25 A.M. with 7-1-537. On a normal weekday, this turn wouldn't depart St. Clair until about four o'clock.

            “The Milwaukee had layover in Hoquiam on Saturday. Their train came out of Maytown, where it connected with their through freight. It left Aberdeen at 4:10 A.M., arrived in Hoquiam at 4:25 A.M. with two loads, seven empties, 270 tons. The crew was on duty at 6 P.M. the night before and tied up that morning at 6:05 A.M. Conductor William A. Heck, Engineer Arthur H. Kratz and engine 277. They left Sunday night for the return trip east.

            “The Union Pacific that morning had Conductor Young and Engineer Gee on duty at 2 A.M. in Centralia, leaving town as Extra 170 West at 2:45 A.M. with five loads and 21 empties, 852 tons. The train arrived in Hoquiam at 5:30 A.M. with four loads and four empties for 280 tons and tied up at 6:30 A.M. This crew took Extra 170 East out of Hoquiam at 12:20 P.M. that day for with seven loads and one empty, 441 tons. The train was arrived in Centralia with ten and three, 319 tons. Northern Pacific dispatchers in Tacoma Union Station kept track, as UP was running on Northern Pacific rails from Aberdeen to Hoquiam, and again from Blakeslee Junction to Centralia.

            “In the ‘60s, the Northern Pacific and UP used portions of their lines jointly to form a poor man's double track. Between Aberdeen and Hoquiam's drawbridges were paired for double track operation. The two roads' lines between Centralia and Blakeslee Junction were paired off in the same manner, the Northern Pacific line handling west bound traffic and the UP handling the east bound trains.” [76]



On March 3, 1970, the corporate descendants of James J. Hill consummated a nearly 70-year-old dream of the Empire Builder: the unification of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy, Great Northern, Northern Pacific and Spokane, Portland and Seattle. The massive Burlington Northern Railroad that emerged from under the Cascade Green banner maintained a fairly respectable traffic flow on the line nearly until the end of its first decade.

            Burlington Northern’s shippers on the old Sixteenth Sub-Division included Boise Cascade, Evans Products Plywood, and two Weyerhaeuser mills (one for pulp) at Aberdeen, Gray's Harbor Paper, Gray's Harbor Veneer, Hoquiam Plywood, and two Rayonier mills (another for pulp) at Hoquiam, and Aloha Shake in Aloha. South on the old Twentieth there was yet another Weyerhaeuser pulp mill at Cosmopolis, and Ocean Spray Cranberries at the end of the line in Markham. [77]

            Service consisted of daily time freights Nos. 182 and 399 between Pasco and Hoquiam; usually headed by three to five F-units, GP9s, and GP35s. Four switch engine shifts held down by two SW12s. A Hoquiam to Elma turn connected with a run off the line to Shelton, then brought the combination of cars west to Hoquiam to join the traffic of the time freights to Pasco. Service to Aloha was run as needed--usually once a week, with as many as three runs a week to Markham at times. Union Pacific and Milwaukee locals connected to Centralia and Maytown respectively. [78]

            The traffic swelled for a while following the devastation of the Mt. St. Helens eruption of May 18, 1980. Weyerhaeuser and others kept mills which would have otherwise been closed open to assist in salvaging the huge stands of damaged trees. [79]

            At the end of the 1970s, Burlington Northern began to shed its ex-Northern Pacific mileage in Gray's Harbor County. First to go, unsurprisingly, was the tiny unproductive tip of the Sixteenth Sub-Division – the 4.34 miles between Moclips and Aloha. This was approved for abandonment on November 29, 1978. The next year the Union Pacific’s tiny South Montesano to Montesano stub came up. [80] The year after that the Milwaukee Road ceased to exist in Washington State.

            The withdrawal of the Milwaukee from the west seemed to accelerate the process. In 1982, Burlington Northern was given permission to remove 20.86 miles, again at the tip of the old Sixteenth Sub-Division, this time turning the Hoquiam to Aloha portion of the line into a rust-strewn strip. In 1985 the entirety of the Tacoma Division's Twentieth Sub-Division went up. The Ocosta's measly 10.26 miles (in reality the original Gray's Harbor Branch, born of Northern Pacific's attempt to promote Ocosta-by-the-Sea) died on January 11. [81]

            Union Pacific was granted trackage rights over the paralleling Burlington Northern branch to Gray's Harbor on March 20, 1985. Over the next two years the Union Pacific gradually pulled up its line between Raisch and Cosmopolis. Eventually Union Pacific was granted trackage rights over Burlington Northern from Centralia to Blakeslee Junction and more branch line came up. [82] Then Union Pacific itself left the line, with Burlington Northern’s 1996 descendant Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway assuming a haulage right agreement, taking Union Pacific traffic from Shelton to Tacoma for interchange (reducing tensions no doubt, as UP had taken to barging this traffic from Shelton to Seattle for a time).

            Having succeeded in lopping off both halves of the fork that had once split along the north and south shores of Gray's Harbor, Burlington Northern eventually turned its attention to the other end of the line. With the Gate Line in place to Centralia, the old Tacoma, Olympia and Gray’s Harbor line beyond Olympia was cut. The 12-and-a-half miles between Belmore and Gate were approved for abandonment on April 19, 1995. [83]

            Finally, in 1997, Burlington Northern and Santa Fe left, too.



On July 18, 1997, the Centralia Chronicle was reporting that a new regional railroad was starting operations in the area. In the want ads a small item listed job openings for engineers, brakemen, and assorted railroad trades. Interested parties were requested to send a resume to the Chief Operating Officer in Elma, Washington. Next to the address a small herald read “Puget Sound & Pacific.”

            Observers in Centralia noted that two Burlington Northern and Santa Fe units rolled through town and headed west onto the Gray's Harbor Branch. The front porch of the lead unit was crowded by a half dozen men in hard hats and suits. [84]

            The veil of the Puget Sound and Pacific’s ownership was pulled off when first Willamette and Pacific employees, then Altamont Press Newsline, reported the successful bidder on the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe lines was the Arizona and California Railroad. [85] By late August, more tangible items were surfacing. Puget Sound and Pacific 3005 and Arizona and California 3802 (both in California Northern colors) were moving north dead in consist through Bakersfield, California, at 4:30 P.M. on August 22. [86]

            Two days later they were moving north again, this time on H-BARKLF (Barstow, California-Klamath Falls, Oregon), leaving Riverbank at 5:15 P.M. [87] On August 27 Willamette and Pacific 1201 and 1203, lettered for the Willamette and Pacific but still wearing the Bicentennial paint scheme of former owner Pittsburg and Shawmut, were sitting on the Pozzolantic spur west of Centralia. [88] Shortly thereafter, Fort Worth went public about the sale.

            “[Burlington Northern and Santa Fe] has announced the sale of about 79 miles of branch line track northwest of Centralia, Wash., to the Puget Sound [and] Pacific Railroad, a division of the Arizona [and] California Railroad Company . . . . Puget Sound [and] Pacific also assumes operating rights over the 48-mile U.S. Navy line north of Shelton.” David Parkinson, chairman and chief executive of the new line, stated the Puget Sounda and Pacific would be handling about 8,000 carloads annually – lumber, plywood, pulp, feed grains, fertilizers, chemicals, aluminum and other metal products, scrap metal, wood chips, logs and special components for the U.S. Navy. “The line was offered for sale in May as part of [Burlington Northern and Santa Fe’s] ongoing asset evaluation program. [Burlington Northern and Santa Fe] announced in February, 1996, that it would sell about 4,000 miles of light-density lines over the coming years. Since that time, the company has sold more than 2,400 miles of track in Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Washington to several short line operators.” [89]

            The new road advertised in south Puget Sound newspapers and hired about 20 employees, including people from Arizona and California, California Northern and Burlington Northern and Santa Fe. Their base of operations became Burlington Northern and Santa Fe’s former Elma Yard Office.

            Sunday, August 30--the first day of operations--was spent running light engines over the lines to familiarize the crews with the territory. The new hires were divided into two crews. Half went to Gray's Harbor with Puget Sound and Pacific 3005 and Arizona and California 3802, the other half went to Centralia to pick up empties with Willamette and Pacific 1021 and 1203. The two units that went to Gray's Harbor went on the ground because of wide gauge track.

            At start up the road had but four engines. Puget Sound and Pacific 3005, a GP30 which was at Coast Engine and Equipment Co. in Tacoma for repairs on October 4. Arizona and California 3802, a GP38 from GATX, originally built for the Baltimore and Ohio (as a GP40). [90] It will be on the Puget Sound and Pacific until two GP10s arrive. When they do Arizona and California 3802 will be headed to Coast Engine and Equipment for an engine change out. The start up roster was rounded out by Willamette and Pacific 1201 (''North Plains'') and 1203 (''Cornelius''), ex-Pittsburg and Shawmut (1866 and 1851 respectively) SW1200ms on 30 to 45 day leases. [91] The GP10s, Nos. 1001 and 1002, were moving west on Burlington Northern and Santa Fe’s Z-KCMPTL (Kansas City, Missouri-Portland, Oregon) out of Sheridan, Wyoming, on October 15. Dead in consist, they were bedecked in green, white and aqua with silver trucks and fuel tanks. [92] The GP10s come from a lot of some 35 which are being sold off by Kansas City Southern, and are numbered former owner MidSouth Rail. Former MidSouth 1058 and 1075 have both done time on the Gulf and Mississippi and Illinois Central-Gulf. [93] Further horsepower had shown up by October 18 in the form of Montana Rail Link 126, a GP9. [94]

            For communications, the road is currently using two radio frequencies. Channel 1 is 161.475, Channel 2 is on 161.460. [95]

            Puget Sound and Pacific thus began life with the barest handful of locomotive power to run trains Burlington Northern and Santa Fe regularly assigned three or more GP38-2s to handle. In an era when even the mighty Union Pacific is scrounging power from the likes of Guilford (and even Amtrak) this should not come as much of a surprise. What might have surprised the Puget Sound and Pacific's owners was the state of their new railroad. Burlington Northern and Santa Fe is reported to have deferred maintenance on much of the line for at least a year, with but two exceptions – influential shipper Simpson in Shelton, and the trackage between Bremerton and Bangor, where the Department of Defense maintains a relatively high standard. Other portions were not so lucky as to be subsidized by U.S. taxpayers. A Burlington Northern and Santa Fe section hand about the Elma to Shelton portion: “There ain't no ties on that section of track and they're running 40 miles an hour. They are going to pile one up real soon.” [96]

            Current operations include runs from Sunday to Friday, with Saturday off. This consists of an 8 A.M. departure for both the Harbor Turn and the Shelton-Bangor Turn, along with a 2 A.M. run for the Centralia Turn. The Shelton Turn leaves Elma and usually gets to Shelton about 10:30 A.M., running on to Bremerton and Bangor as needed. Traffic to Bremerton consists of inbound coal for the Navy's steam plant, and outbound gondolas of scrap metal from retired ships. When running to Bremerton, the turn gets back to Shelton around 5 P.M., and returns to Elma around 7 P.M.

            On September 8 the turn left Shelton with Arizona and California 3802, Willamette and Pacific 1203, and about 25 loads. The train stalled about half way up the Stimson Hill on the way to Bremerton. The crew knew they were in trouble because they had been talking to the crew in Puget Sound and Pacific 3005 for half an hour before they started their climb, trying to find a place to couple up for added power. Even with the GP30 tacked on, the train barely made it over the hill. Until more power arrives, Puget Sound and Pacific will not have much of a choice in the matter.

            On September 23 the Centralia Turn had 3005, one of the SW1200ms, and about 40 loads. The day was very foggy and damp and the train stalled around Mile Post 41. The crew cut off 15 cars or so and tried again. This time the train stalled around Mile Post 32, again cutting off about 15 cars. With only remnants of their train, the crew stalled out at Mile Post 30, having made it past a grade of 1.07 percent only to die on a .8 percent stretch. By then the radio was blaring, “If we keep this up we will be down to one car and making 40 trips!”

            The calvary serviced 3802, and along with the other SW1200m, headed out. They took the first and second cuts, coupled them together, pushed them up to the stalled 3005 and company, then ran them together through to Gate. There one of the SW1200ms was sent back to Elma, and the cars were left for Burlington Northern and Santa Fe to come and take care of. The three remaining units went on to Centralia to pick up empties for Elma. After switching in Elma, the crew got back to Shelton at 3:45 P.M.

            When they finally arrived Simpson was so anxious for the cars that they didn't even let them set the cars out. The crew just pulled them past the wye switch and Simpson 900 coupled on to them and hauled them directly into the plant. By the time the Puget Sound and Pacific crew had returned from a run to Bay Shore for poles Simpson had 15 loads for Elma waiting for them.

            On September 24 the crew for Puget Sound and Pacific’s Centralia Turn went on duty around midnight, then ran light with Puget Sound and Pacific 3005, Willamette and Pacific 1201, and Arizona and California 3802 to get 32 cars, mostly empties, from Burlington Northern and Santa Fe at Centralia. The goal is to take the deliveries from Burlington Northern and Santa Fe at 5:00 A.M., then return to Elma for the remainder of the day's business. [97]



Washington, long blessed with numerous branch lines, now looks at the end of an era that started some 110 years ago. From the late 1870s to the eve of World War One, the Great Northern, Milwaukee Road, Northern Pacific, and future subsidiaries of the Union Pacific created a myriad of branch lines to feed their mains. The Great Northern pushed north to Canada from Spokane, Wenatchee, and Everett. Navigation and its descendants spread into the Palouse and Yakima in the east, and Gray's Harbor in the west. From the Tacoma-Seattle area the Milwaukee extended itself west to Gray's Harbor (in cooperation with Navigation), south to Centralia and Chehalis, east to the foot of Mt. Rainier, and north, nearly to the Canadian border.

            The Northern Pacific, first on the scene at the beginning of the 1870s, built the most extensively. The Northern Pacific piled up the mileage in eastern Washington battling the rival Navigation. The Idaho Division included nearly 464 miles of main line in 1966, with another 638 miles in branches, the legacy of the Northern Pacific's rush to tap the natural resources of the region. That number does not include the mileage from the Northern Pacific's ultimate compromise with Harriman forces in that area: the 112 mile, jointly-operated Camas Prairie Railroad.

            Western Washington was no different for the Northern Pacific. There the figures of the Tacoma Division mirrored those of the eastern half of the state. Three hundred and seventy-three miles of main lines extending over Stampede Pass, connecting Seattle and Tacoma, and journeying south to the Columbia River and Oregon, were dwarfed by 630 miles of branch line. Between 1949 and 1966 the Northern Pacific had trimmed just 30 miles of branch line; the main line had undergone no major revisions.

            North of Seattle the Sumas Line connected the Northern Pacific to the Canadian Pacific at Sumas; this long trunk line included spurs, branches in their own right, to the mills and mines of Bellingham, to the mines of Monte Cristo, and the forests of Darrington. Sprouting out from the population centers of Seattle and Tacoma was another web of branches: the Snoqualmie Branch, an ex-Seattle, Lake Shore and Eastern route to Snoqualmie Falls and North Bend; the Lake Washington Belt Line, running from Renton to Woodinville and connecting with both the Snoqualmie and Sumas branches; the Green River and Northern shooting into the woods from Kanaskat; the Buckley Line, which looped south from Kanaskat to Meeker and branched again – to Carbonado, Crocker, Fairfax, Lake Kapowsin and Wilkeson. The complexity of the Tacoma Division did not diminish moving south towards Portland. The South End as it was known included the tiny Yacolt Branch (where the Northern Pacific once employed logging road Shays), three by-pass routes, and a northerly branch serving timber communities and naval installations through Bremerton and Bangor. Finally, there was a two-pronged assault on the evergreen carpeted valleys that lead to the Pacific: the Willapa and the Gray's Harbor lines. [98]

            As the year 2000 looms this vast empire of branch lines lies abandoned, rusting, or sold. Of the Tacoma Division's 20 secondary lines, only five remain intact in descendant Burlington Northern and Santa Fe’s fold. The fragments of two others face dim futures. Another four – the Yacolt, Elma, Gate and Gray's Harbor have been severed from their Class I connections and face the future as shortlines. Three of these, the Elma Branch, the Gate Line, and the Gray's Harbor Branch covered some 139 miles all told. They form a reversed L running from Bangor on Hood Canal to Centralia-Chehalis in the south, and from there westwards to Aberdeen and Hoquiam on the Pacific. Today they are the Puget Sound and Pacific, one of the last vestiges of a Class I branch line empire in the Pacific Northwest.


And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,

Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff

As dreams are made on; and our little life

Is rounded with a sleep.

-The Tempest, Act IV, Scene I





St. Clair to Moclips, Washington, 100.5 miles.

Joins Third Sub-Division to Portland, Oregon, at St. Clair, Eighteenth Sub-Division to Centralia at Gate, Nineteenth Sub-Division to Bangor at Elma, Twentieth Sub-Division to Ocosta at Aberdeen.



St. Clair to Lacey – Mile Post 0 to Mile Post 4.5 – Maximum Westward Grade: 1.464

0800 1350-1389 S-4 (1902 4-6-0 Ten-Wheelers from BLW)

1000 1500-1659 W (1904-07 2-8-2 Mikados from ALCO)

1650 1700-1834 W-3 (1913-20 2-8-2 Mikados from ALCO)

0900 1250-1279 Y-2 (1901-02- 2-8-0 Consolidations from ALCO)

0510 100-6, 400-27, 700-4, 750, 800-3 (NW, NW2, VO-1000, S-2, S-6, RS-1)

1000 107-77 (SW7, SW9, SW1200)

1200 5400-10 (FT)

0680 550-51, 6500-13, 6550, 6600-01 (GP7, F3, F5, FP7)

0890 244-45, 6000-5, 6051-52,6700-02( GP9, F3, F5, F9)

1130 500-1, 900-11, 6007-20, 6050 (RS-3, RS-11, F5, F7)

1300 200-375, 376-384, 7000-14 (GP9, GP18, F9)


Lacey to Olympia – Mile Post 4.5 to Mile Post 9.5 – Maximum Westward Grade: 0.7

2100 1350-1389 S-4

2500 1500-1659 W

3500 1700-1834 W-3

2400 1250-1279 Y-2

1010 100-6, 400-27, 700-4, 750, 800-3 (NW, NW2, VO-1000, S-2, S-6, RS-1)

2000 107-77 (SW7, SW9, SW1200)

2500 5400-10 (FT)

1800 550-51, 6500-13, 6550, 6600-01 (GP7, F3, F5, FP7)

2060 244-45, 6000-5, 6051-52,6700-02( GP9, F3, F5, F9)

2240 500-1, 900-11, 6007-20, 6050 (RS-3, RS-11, F5, F7)

3000 200-375, 376-384, 7000-14 (GP9, GP18, F9)


Olympia to Belmore – Mile Post 9.5 to Mile Post 14.7 – Maximum Westward Grade: 1.55

0600 1350-1389 S-4

1000 1500-1659 W

1600 1700-1834 W-3

0900 1250-1279 Y-2

0500 100-6, 400-27, 700-4, 750, 800-3 (NW, NW2, VO-1000, S-2, S-6, RS-1)

0800 107-77 (SW7, SW9, SW1200)

1100 5400-10 (FT)

0800 550-51, 6500-13, 6550, 6600-01 (GP7, F3, F5, FP7)

0900 244-45, 6000-5, 6051-52,6700-02( GP9, F3, F5, F9)

1050 500-1, 900-11, 6007-20, 6050 (RS-3, RS-11, F5, F7)

1220 200-375, 376-384, 7000-14 (GP9, GP18, F9)


Belmore to Gate – Mile Post 14.7 to Mile Post 28.6--Maximum Westward Grade: 0.9

1200 1350-1389 S-4

1500 1500-1659 W

3200 1700-1834 W-3

1400 1250-1279 Y-2

0820 100-6, 400-27, 700-4, 750, 800-3 (NW, NW2, VO-1000, S-2, S-6, RS-1)

2500 107-77 (SW7, SW9, SW1200)

3200 5400-10 (FT)

3000 550-51, 6500-13, 6550, 6600-01 (GP7, F3, F5, FP7)

3000 244-45, 6000-5, 6051-52,6700-02( GP9, F3, F5, F9)

3400 500-1, 900-11, 6007-20, 6050 (RS-3, RS-11, F5, F7)

4000 200-375, 376-384, 7000-14 (GP9, GP18, F9)


Gate to Hoquiam – Mile Post 28.6 to Mile Post 72.5--Maximum Westward Grade: 1.07

2200 1350-1389 S-4

3500 1500-1659 W

5000 1700-1834 W-3

3300 1250-1279 Y-2

0745 100-6, 400-27, 700-4, 750, 800-3 (NW, NW2, VO-1000, S-2, S-6, RS-1)

3000 107-77 (SW7, SW9, SW1200)

3000 5400-10 (FT) 3500 550-51, 6500-13, 6550, 6600-01 (GP7, F3, F5, FP7)

4000 244-45, 6000-5, 6051-52,6700-02( GP9, F3, F5, F9)

4400 500-1, 900-11, 6007-20, 6050 (RS-3, RS-11, F5, F7)

5000 200-375, 376-384, 7000-14 (GP9, GP18, F9)


Hoquiam to Moclips – Mile Post 72.5 to Mile Post 100.5 – Maximum Westward Grade: 0.85

2500 1350-1389 S-4

4000 1500-1659 W

6000 1700-1834 W-3

4000 1250-1279 Y-2

1850 100-6, 400-27, 700-4, 750, 800-3 (NW, NW2, VO-1000, S-2, S-6, RS-1)

2500 107-77 (SW7, SW9, SW1200)

2800 5400-10 (FT)

2500 550-51, 6500-13, 6550, 6600-01 (GP7, F3, F5, FP7)

2700 244-45, 6000-5, 6051-52,6700-02( GP9, F3, F5, F9)

2800 500-1, 900-11, 6007-20, 6050 (RS-3, RS-11, F5, F7)

3300 200-375, 376-384, 7000-14 (GP9, GP18, F9)



Moclips to Hoquiam – Mile Post 100.5 to Mile Post 72.5 – Maximum Eastward Grade: 0.77

2500 1350-1389 S-4

4000 1500-1659 W

6000 1700-1834 W-3

4000 1250-1279 Y-2

1140 100-6, 400-27, 700-4, 750, 800-3 (NW, NW2, VO-1000, S-2, S-6, RS-1)

3000 107-77 (SW7, SW9, SW1200)

4000 5400-10 (FT)

3000 550-51, 6500-13, 6550, 6600-01 (GP7, F3, F5, FP7)

3000 244-45, 6000-5, 6051-52,6700-02( GP9, F3, F5, F9)

3500 500-1, 900-11, 6007-20, 6050 (RS-3, RS-11, F5, F7)

4300 200-375, 376-384, 7000-14 (GP9, GP18, F9)


Hoquiam to Gate – Mile Post 72.5 to Mile Post 28.6 – Maximum Eastward Grade: 1.06

2000 1350-1389 S-4

3500 1500-1659 W

4500 1700-1834 W-3

3300 1250-1279 Y-2

1530 100-6, 400-27, 700-4, 750, 800-3 (NW, NW2, VO-1000, S-2, S-6, RS-1)

3000 107-77 (SW7, SW9, SW1200)

4000 5400-10 (FT)

3000 550-51, 6500-13, 6550, 6600-01 (GP7, F3, F5, FP7)

3000 244-45, 6000-5, 6051-52,6700-02( GP9, F3, F5, F9)

3500 500-1, 900-11, 6007-20, 6050 (RS-3, RS-11, F5, F7)

4500 200-375, 376-384, 7000-14 (GP9, GP18, F9)


Gate to Belmore – Mile Post 28.6 to Mile Post 14.7 – Maximum Eastward Grade: 0.87

1500 1350-1389 S-4

3700 1500-1659 W

4250 1700-1834 W-3

2500 1250-1279 Y-2

1670 100-6, 400-27, 700-4, 750, 800-3 (NW, NW2, VO-1000, S-2, S-6, RS-1)

2500 107-77 (SW7, SW9, SW1200)

3540 5400-10 (FT)

2200 550-51, 6500-13, 6550, 6600-01 (GP7, F3, F5, FP7)

2900 244-45, 6000-5, 6051-52,6700-02( GP9, F3, F5, F9)

3549 500-1, 900-11, 6007-20, 6050 (RS-3, RS-11, F5, F7)

4430 200-375, 376-384, 7000-14 (GP9, GP18, F9)


Belmore to Olympia – Mile Post 14.7 to Mile Post 9.5 – Maximum Eastward Grade: 0.65

2000 1350-1389 S-4

3500 1500-1659 W

4500 1700-1834 W-3

3300 1250-1279 Y-2

1310 100-6, 400-27, 700-4, 750, 800-3 (NW, NW2, VO-1000, S-2, S-6, RS-1)

3000 107-77 (SW7, SW9, SW1200)

4000 5400-10 (FT)

2500 550-51, 6500-13, 6550, 6600-01 (GP7, F3, F5, FP7)

3300 244-45, 6000-5, 6051-52,6700-02( GP9, F3, F5, F9)

4000 500-1, 900-11, 6007-20, 6050 (RS-3, RS-11, F5, F7)

4400 200-375, 376-384, 7000-14 (GP9, GP18, F9)


Olympia to Lacey – Mile Post 9.5 to Mile Post 4.5 – Maximum Eastward Grade: 1.6

0550 1350-1389 S-4

1000 1500-1659 W

1800 1700-1834 W-3

0900 1250-1279 Y-2

0480 100-6, 400-27, 700-4, 750, 800-3 (NW, NW2, VO-1000, S-2, S-6, RS-1)

0800 107-77 (SW7)

2800 5400-10 (FT)

1040 550-51, 6500-13, 6550, 6600-01 (GP7, F3, F5, FP7)

0750 244-45, 6000-5, 6051-52,6700-02( GP9, F3, F5, F9)

1100 500-1, 900-11, 6007-20, 6050 (RS-3, RS-11, F5, F7)

1220 200-375, 376-384, 7000-14 (GP9, GP18, F9)


Lacey to St. Clair – Mile Post 4.5 to Mile Post 0 – Maximum Eastward Grade: 1.2

1050 1350-1389 S-4

1350 1500-1659 W

2350 1700-1834 W-3

1250 1250-1279 Y-2

0630 100-6, 400-27, 700-4, 750, 800-3 (NW, NW2, VO-1000, S-2, S-6, RS-1)

1500 107-77 (SW7, SW9, SW1200)

2800 5400-10 (FT)

2500 550-51, 6500-13, 6550, 6600-01 (GP7, F3, F5, FP7)

2500 244-45, 6000-5, 6051-52,6700-02( GP9, F3, F5, F9)

3000 500-1, 900-11, 6007-20, 6050 (RS-3, RS-11, F5, F7)

3500 200-375, 376-384, 7000-14 (GP9, GP18, F9)




Centralia to Gate, Washington, 13.8 miles.

Joins Third Sub-Division to Portland, Oregon, at Centralia, Sixteenth Sub-Division to Moclips at Gate.



Centralia to Gate – Mile Post 0 to Mile Post 13.8 – Maximum Westward Grade: 0.5

2200 1350-1389 S-4 (1902 4-6-0 Ten-Wheelers from BLW)

3500 1500-1659 W (1904-07 2-8-2 Mikados from ALCO)

4800 1700-1834 W-3 (1913-20 2-8-2 Mikados from ALCO)

3300 1250-1279 Y-2 (1901-02- 2-8-0 Consolidations from ALCO)

1310 100-6, 400-27, 700-4, 750, 800-3 (NW, NW2, VO-1000, S-2, S-6, RS-1)

2500 107-77 (SW7, SW9, SW1200)

3800 5400-10 (FT)

3000 550-51, 6500-13, 6550, 6600-01 (GP7, F3, F5, FP7)

3500 244-45, 6000-5, 6051-52,6700-02( GP9, F3, F5, F9)

3800 500-1, 900-11, 6007-20, 6050 (RS-3, RS-11, F5, F7)

4500 200-375, 376-384, 7000-14 (GP9, GP18, F9)



Gate to Rochester – Mile Post 13.8 to Mile Post 11.2 – Maximum Eastward Grade: 1.0

2000 1350-1389 S-4

3500 1500-1659 W

4000 1700-1834 W-3

3300 1250-1279 Y-2

0745 100-6, 400-27, 700-4, 750, 800-3 (NW, NW2, VO-1000, S-2, S-6, RS-1)

1360 107-77 (SW7, SW9, SW1200)

1780 5400-10 (FT)

1250 550-51, 6500-13, 6550, 6600-01 (GP7, F3, F5, FP7)

1400 244-45, 6000-5, 6051-52,6700-02( GP9, F3, F5, F9)

1800 500-1, 900-11, 6007-20, 6050 (RS-3, RS-11, F5, F7)

1950 200-375, 376-384, 7000-14 (GP9, GP18, F9)


Rochester to Centralia – Mile Post 11.2 to Mile Post 0 – Maximum Eastward Grade: 0.55

2400 1350-1389 S-4

3500 1500-1659 W

4000 1700-1834 W-3

3500 1250-1279 Y-2

1850 100-6, 400-27, 700-4, 750, 800-3 (NW, NW2, VO-1000, S-2, S-6, RS-1)

3000 107-77 (SW7, SW9, SW1200)

4000 5400-10 (FT)

3000 550-51, 6500-13, 6550, 6600-01 (GP7, F3, F5, FP7)

3300 244-45, 6000-5, 6051-52,6700-02( GP9, F3, F5, F9)

4300 500-1, 900-11, 6007-20, 6050 (RS-3, RS-11, F5, F7)

4700 200-375, 376-384, 7000-14 (GP9, GP18, F9)




Elma to Bangor, Washington, 68.7 miles.

Joins Sixteenth Sub-Division to Moclips at Centralia.



Elma to Stimson – Mile Post 0 to Mile Post 10.2 – Maximum Eastward Grade: 1.135

0800 1350-1389 S-4 (1902 4-6-0 Ten-Wheelers from BLW)

1550 1500-1659 W (1904-07 2-8-2 Mikados from ALCO)

2000 1700-1834 W-3 (1913-20 2-8-2 Mikados from ALCO)

1450 1250-1279 Y-2 (1901-02- 2-8-0 Consolidations from ALCO)

0745 100-6, 400-27, 700-4, 750, 800-3 (NW, NW2, VO-1000, S-2, S-6, RS-1)

1400 107-77 (SW7, SW9, SW1200)

1900 5400-10 (FT)

1350 550-51, 6500-13, 6550, 6600-01 (GP7, F3, F5, FP7)

1500 244-45, 6000-5, 6051-52,6700-02( GP9, F3, F5, F9)

1900 500-1, 900-11, 6007-20, 6050 (RS-3, RS-11, F5, F7)

2100 200-375, 376-384, 7000-14 (GP9, GP18, F9)


Stimson to Bangor – Mile Post 10.2 to Mile Post 68.7 – Maximum Eastward Grade: 1.5

0550 1350-1389 S-4

1100 1500-1659 W

1400 1700-1834 W-3

1000 1250-1279 Y-2

0510 100-6, 400-27, 700-4, 750, 800-3 (NW, NW2, VO-1000, S-2, S-6, RS-1)

0900 107-77 (SW7, SW9, SW1200)

1200 5400-10 (FT)

0800 550-51, 6500-13, 6550, 6600-01 (GP7, F3, F5, FP7)

0900 244-45, 6000-5, 6051-52,6700-02( GP9, F3, F5, F9)

1200 500-1, 900-11, 6007-20, 6050 (RS-3, RS-11, F5, F7)

1300 200-375, 376-384, 7000-14 (GP9, GP18, F9)



Bangor to Shelton – Mile Post 68.7 to Mile Post 25.2 – Maximum Westward Grade: 1.7

0550 1350-1389 S-4

1100 1500-1659 W

1400 1700-1834 W-3

1000 1250-1279 Y-2

0510 100-6, 400-27, 700-4, 750, 800-3 (NW, NW2, VO-1000, S-2, S-6, RS-1)

0900 107-77 (SW7, SW9, SW1200)

1200 5400-10 (FT)

0800 550-51, 6500-13, 6550, 6600-01 (GP7, F3, F5, FP7)

0900 244-45, 6000-5, 6051-52,6700-02( GP9, F3, F5, F9)

1200 500-1, 900-11, 6007-20, 6050 (RS-3, RS-11, F5, F7)

1300 200-375, 376-384, 7000-14 (GP9, GP18, F9)


Shelton to Marmac – Mile Post 25.2 to Mile Post 14.6 – Maximum Westward Grade: 1.4

0400 1350-1389 S-4

1800 1500-1659 W

2400 1700-1834 W-3

1700 1250-1279 Y-2

0550 100-6, 400-27, 700-4, 750, 800-3 (NW, NW2, VO-1000, S-2, S-6, RS-1)

1300 107-77 (SW7, SW9, SW1200)

1750 5400-10 (FT)

1200 550-51, 6500-13, 6550, 6600-01 (GP7, F3, F5, FP7)

1350 244-45, 6000-5, 6051-52,6700-02( GP9, F3, F5, F9)

1750 500-1, 900-11, 6007-20, 6050 (RS-3, RS-11, F5, F7)

1900 200-375, 376-384, 7000-14 (GP9, GP18, F9)


Marmac to Stimson – Mile Post 14.6 to Mile Post 10.2 – Maximum Westward Grade: 2.53

---- 1350-1389 S-4

0600 1500-1659 W

0750 1700-1834 W-3

0500 1250-1279 Y-2

0210 100-6, 400-27, 700-4, 750, 800-3 (NW, NW2, VO-1000, S-2, S-6, RS-1)

0525 107-77 (SW7, SW9, SW1200)

0700 5400-10 (FT)

0500 550-51, 6500-13, 6550, 6600-01 (GP7, F3, F5, FP7)

0550 244-45, 6000-5, 6051-52,6700-02( GP9, F3, F5, F9)

0700 500-1, 900-11, 6007-20, 6050 (RS-3, RS-11, F5, F7)

0780 200-375, 376-384, 7000-14 (GP9, GP18, F9)



Northern Pacific Railway. Northern Pacific Railway, Tacoma Division, Special Instruction No. 8, In Effect at 12:01 A.M. Pacific Standard Time, Tuesday, January 1, 1948. St. Paul [Minn.]: Northern Pacific Railway, 1948, pp. 53-54.


----. Northern Pacific Railway, Tacoma Division, Special Instruction No. 1, In Effect at 12:01 A.M. Pacific Standard Time, Tuesday, December 1, 1959. St. Paul [Minn.]: Northern Pacific Railway, 1959, pp. 56-58.


----. Northern Pacific Railway, Condensed Track and Profile, Tacoma Division, Branch Lines: American Lake Line; Gray's Harbor Branch; Gate Line; Elma Branch; Ocosta Branch; Cosmopolis Branch. St. Paul [Minn.]: Northern Pacific Railway, Office of the Chief Engineer, 1963.


----. Northern Pacific Railway Condensed Track and Profile, Tacoma Division, Branch Lines: Elma Branch (Bremerton Line). St. Paul [Minn.]: Northern Pacific Railway, Office of the Chief Engineer, 1965.


----. Northern Pacific Railway Company and Affiliated Companies, Official List of Officers, Agents, Stations, . . . Etc., No. 54. St. Paul [Minn.]: Northern Pacific Railway Accounting Department, 1966, pp. 40-42.


Harris, Tim, Northern Pacific Steam Roster, Web site, August 29, 2000.



Road Number - Builder and Model | Horsepower | Total Weight | Tractive Effort

100 EMD NW | 900 | 232,060 | 57,230

101-106 EMD NW2 | 1,000 | 244,750-249,500 | 60,330-61,500

107-114 EMD SW7 | 1,200 | 26,270 | 60,730

115-118 EMD SW9 | 1,200 | 246,270 | 60,730

119-177 EMD SW1200 | 1,200 | 245,940-247,100 | 60,700-60,990

200-375 EMD GP9 | 1,750 | 245,140-259,100 | 59,550

376-384 EMD GP18 | 1,800 | 245,140 | 59,160-60,275

400-427 BLW VO-1000 | 1,000 | 233,300-242,300 | 56,750-59,440

500-501 BLW DRS 4-4-15 | 1,500 | 251,540 | 61,510

525 BLW DRS 6-6-15 | 1,500 | 248,750-254,450 | 60,300-61,390

550-569 EMD GP7 | 1,500 | 254,850 | 60,500

600-602 ALCO HH-660 | 660 | 197,500 | 48,400

603 ALCO S-1 | 660 | 198,000 | 48,540

650-652 BLW VO-660 | 660 | 197,800-201,760 | 48,410-49,500

700-712 ALCO S-2 | 1,000 | 230,000 | 56,570

713-714 ALCO S-4 | 1,000 | 229,700 | 56,200

750 ALCO S-6 | 900 | 244,800 | 60,240

800-803 ALCO RS-1 | 1,000 | 242,500 | 58,860

850-863 ALCO RS-3 | 1,600 | 244,740-249,200 | 59,160-60,275

900-917 ALCO RS-11 | 1,800 | 244,450-247,880 | 59,200-60,290

2500-2517 GE U-25C | 2,500 | 391,690 | 94,460

2518-2520 GE U-25C | 2,750 | 391,690 | 94,460

2800-2808 GE U-28C | 2,800 | 391,490 | 94,410

2809-2811 GE U-28C | 3,000 | 391,490 | 94,410

3300-3309 GE U-33C | 3,300 | 391,490 | 94,410

3600-3629 EMD SD45 | 3,600 | 389,230 | 93,076

5400-5410 EMD FT | 1,350 | 247,025 | 60,890

6000-6005 EMD F3 | 1,500 | 245,000 | 59,915

6007-6020 EMD F5 | 1,500 | 245,000 | 59,915

6050-6052 EMD F7 | 1,500 | 245,000 | 59,915

6500-6513 EMD F3 [Passenger] | 1,500 | 244,500 | 59,285 [A unit] 58,580 [B unit]

6550-6553 EMD F5 [Passenger] | 1,500 | 244,500 | 59,285 [A unit] 58,580 [B unit]

6600-6601 EMD FP7 | 1,500 | 254,850 | 60,500

6700-6702 EMD F9 [Passenger] | 1,750 | 249,780 | 60,420

7000-7014 EMD F9 | 1,750 | 248,500-249,500 | 60,825-61,020

7050-7052 EMD F9 | 1,750 | 248,500-249,500 | 60,825-61,020


Schrenk, Lorenz P. and Robert L. Frey. Northern Pacific Diesel Era, 1945-1970. San Marino [Cal.]: Golden West Books, 1988, pp. 256-276.



Special thanks are due Mike Davison, Jim Fredrickson and Dave Sprau, all of whom made their extensive materials and knowlegdge available on very short notice. Scott O'Dell provided the vast, uncited majority of the Puget Sound and Pacific information. A final note of thanks is due the many people who have been keeping track of developments in Northwest railroading; their names are listed on the reportage below.



1. Grays Harbor Development Club. Grays Harbor Country, Washington The Home Country. Hoquiam [Wash.]: Grays Harbor Development Club, 1911 p. 3

2. Welsh, William D. and Edwin Van Syckle. Brief Historical Sketch of Grays Harbor, Washington, Produced by William D. Welsh from the Splendid Manuscript of Ed. Van Syckle and Jointly Presented by the Chambers of Commerce of Hoquiam and Aberdeen, Washington. [n. p.] Rayonier Incorporated, 1942, p. 3.

3. Frey, Robert L. Editor. Encyclopedia of American Business History and Biography, Railroads in the Nineteenth Century. New York: Facts On File, 1988, p. 419.

4. Ibid., p. 419.

5. Lewty, Peter J. Across the Columbia Plain: Railroad Expansion in the Interior Northwest, 1885-1893. Pullman [Wash.]: Washington State UP, 1995, p. 74.

6. Ibid., pp. 76-78.

7. Ibid., p. 87.

8. Ibid., pp. 229-230.

9. Ibid., p. 89.

10. Ibid., p. 89.

11. Davison, Mike. History of Railroads in Grays Harbor. http://www.cs.utk.edu/~davison/ghrr.html, May 28, 1997.

12. Lewty, p. 90.

13. Short, Yvonne T. A Historical Study of Grays Harbor County with Emphasis on the History of the City of Aberdeen Implemented by a Resource Unit. Seattle [Wash.]: Thesis (M. Ed.) University of Washington, 1956, pp. 106-107.

14. Lewty, pp. 90-91.

15. Ibid., p. 91.

16. Davison.

17. Short, p. 112.

18. Davison

19. Ibid.

20. Ibid.

21. Welsh, p. 25.

22. Ibid., p. 25.

23. Ibid., p. 25.

24. Davison.

25. Ibid.

26. Northern Pacific Railway. Northern Pacific Railway, Condensed Track and Profile, Tacoma Division, Branch Lines: American Lake Line; Gray's Harbor Branch; Gate Line; Elma Branch; Ocosta Branch; Cosmopolis Branch. St. Paul [Minn.]: Northern Pacific Railway, Office of the Chief Engineer, 1963.

27. Davison.

28. Northern Pacific Railway. Northern Pacific Railway Company and Affiliated Companies, Official List of Officers, Agents, Stations, . . . Etc., No. 54. St. Paul [Minn.]: Northern Pacific Railway Accounting Department, 1966, pp. 41-42.

29. Asay, Jeff S. Union Pacific Northwest The Oregon-Washington Railroad & Navigation Company. Edmonds [Wash.]: Pacific Fast Mail, 1991, p. 112.

30. Ibid., p. 105.

31. Ibid., p. 105.

32. Ibid., pp. 105-106.

33. Ibid., p. 109.

34. Ibid., p. 109.

35. Ibid., p. 109.

36. Fredrickson, James M., telephone interview, October 18, 1997.

37. Asay, pp. 112-113.

38. Sprau, D. T., telephone interview, October 18, 1997.

39. Hyde, Frederick W. The Milwaukee Road. Denver [Col.]: Hy-Rail Publications, 1990, p. 176.

40. Asay, p. 113.

41. Asay, p. 113.

42. Sprau, D. T. telephone interview, October 18, 1997.

43. Morris, William G. “Forest Fires in Western Oregon and Western Washington.” Oregon Historical Quarterly XXXV (1934) p. 333-337.

44. Roberts, Neva Howard. “Some Stories of the Howard Family, the Fire of 1902.” The Sou'wester XXIII (Winter 1988) p. 78-79

45. Van Syckle, Edwin. Aberdeen and its Great Fires, The River Pioneers, Early Days on Grays Harbor. Seattle [Wash.]: Pacific Search Press and the Friends of the Aberdeen Public Library, 1982, p. 235-241.

46. Morgan, Murray C. The Last Wilderness. Seattle and London: U of Washington P, 1955, p. 122-128.

47. Grays Harbor Development Club, p. 3.

48. Ibid., p. 5.

49. Hoquiam Sawyer. Hoquiam, Wash., Grays Harbor: Gateway to the World of Commerce. Hoquiam [Wash.]: Hoquiam Sawyer, 1910, p. 4.

50. Ibid., p. 4

51. Jensen, Vernon H. The IWW Lumber Strike of 1912, Lumber and Labor. New York: Farrar and Rinehart, 1945, p. 121.

52. Abbey's Industrial Directories. Abbey's Loggers Blue Book. Portland [Ore.]: Abbey's Industrial Directories, 1922, pp. 200-229.

53. Fultz, Hollis B. An Industrial Survey of Grays Harbor County and Tributary Territory; Comp. by Hollis B. Fultz . . . for the Chambers of Commerce of Grays Harbor County. Aberdeen [Wash.]: Chamber of Commerce, 1929, p. 27.

54. Washington (State) Employment Security Department. Economic Trends in Grays Harbor County. Olympia [Wash.]: State of Washington Employment Security Department Research and Statistics Section, 1950 [n.p]

55. Ibid.

56. Greater Grays Harbor Development Bureau. Grays Harbor, Washington Pacific Northwest. Montesano [Wash.]: Greater Grays Harbor Development Bureau, 1924[?] [n.p.]

57. Newell, Gordon. H. W. McCurdy Marine History of the Pacific Northwest. Seattle [Wash.]: Superior Publishing, 1966, p. 428.

58. Lembcke, Jerry and William M. Tattam. One Union In Wood. New York: Harcourt, 1984, pp. 30-41.

59. Washington (State) Employment Security Department.

60. Ibid.

61. Northern Pacific Railway. Northern Pacific Railway, Condensed Track and Profile.

62. Unpublished manuscript, collection of James M. Fredrickson.

63. Ibid.

64. Northern Pacific Railway. Northern Pacific Railway, Condensed Track and Profile.

65. Auburn [Wash.] Globe, January 20, 1916, p. 1.

66. Northern Pacific Railway. Northern Pacific Railway, Condensed Track and Profile.

67. “Shelton-Bremerton-Bangor RR, Born of the War in the Pacific.” Locomotive Engineers Journal, April, 1946, p. 238.

68. Ibid., p. 239

69. Ibid., pp. 238-239

70. Ibid., p. 299

71. Ibid., p. 239

72. Sprau, D. T., interview, October 6, 1997.

73. Collection of the author.

74. Sprau, D.T., interview, October 6, 1997

75. Northern Pacific Railway. Northern Pacific Railway Company, Tacoma Division Time Table 3 . . . Sunday, August 18, 1968. St. Paul [Minn.]: Northern Pacific Railway Tacoma Division, 1968, p. 9.

76. Sprau, D. T., interview, October 6, 1997.

77. Ferris, Dean, electronic mail, October 10, 1997.

78. Ibid.

79. Ibid.

80. Asay, pp. 229-230.

81. Hamblet, Dennis, electronic mail, March 13, 1997.

82. Asay, pp. 229-230.

83. Hamblet, Dennis, electronic mail, March 13, 1997.

84. Schwarz, Aaron, electronic mail, July 18, 1997.

85. Thelen, Louis and Rob Carlson, Bay Area Foamers List, foamers@smrn.com, July 23, 1997.

86, Ray, A.C., Altamont Press Newsline, http://altamontpress.com/news/8-23.html, August 23, 1997.

87. Farmer, Bill, Bay Area Foamers List, foamers@smrn.com, September 5, 1997.

88. Schwarz, Aaron, electronic mail, August 29, 1997.

89. BNSF News, Web site, http://wwwd.bnsf.com/website/bnsf2day.nsf/862562490070480386256246004b1f25/0c136d3204c0 16d806256506007e1506?OpenDocument.

90. Miller, Bill, Railroad List, railroad@cunyvm.cuny.edu, October 18, 1997.

91. Thelen, Louis, electronic mail, October 19, 1997; Eby, Nathan, Web site, Willamette and Pacific Locomotives, http://www.proaxis.com/~ebyron/roster.html, October 18, 1997.

92. Krug, Alvin A., Railroad List, railroad@cunyvm.cuny.edu, October 17, 1997.

93. Palmieri, Michael M., Railroad List, railroad@cunyvm.cuny.edu, October 18, 1997.

94. Noland, Steve, OS List, dannyb@access.digex.net, October 18, 1997.

95. O'Dell, Scott E., correspondence [n.d.], and Chris Stubblefield, electronic mail, September 6, 1997.

96. Ibid.

97. Scott, Robert, Altamont Press Newsline, http://altamontpress.com/news/9-24.html, September 24, 1997. Puget Sound and Pacific was exchanging cars in Centralia, Washington, with then Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Train No. 673.

98. Northern Pacific Railway. Northern Pacific Railway Company and Affiliated Companies, Official List of Officers, Agents, Stations, . . . Etc., pp. 34-43, 45-46.

Author: John A. Phillips, III. Title: Tempest in the Timber. URL: www.employees.org/~davison/nprha/harbor.html.

© November 20, 2000