« AnteriorContinuar »
Connaught, and 8.7 months per mile for 6.1-mile Moffat.
New motive power was ordered in 1927. Baldwin-Westinghouse delivered two new 1-D-1+1-D-1 locomotives, actually two 1-D-1 units coupled together in multiple, in March of 1927 and two more in 1928. General Electric delivered two new 1-C+C-1 locomotives in September of 1927 and two in 1928. All of these locomotives saw service on the old line with its new extension from Skykomish to Tye and through the 22-mile tunnel to Cascade. This was the first largescale motor-generator locomotive installation in the world. This type of locomotive had been pioneered by Henry Ford in 1925 on his companyowned Detroit, Toledo & Ironton Railroad, and a few of the type had been built in the Ford Plant for that road.
A peculiar thing happened on the "old" electrification some years before it was finally abandoned. Sometimes in tunnel operation it happens that an engineer cannot actually be sure whether he is moving or not. One day two electric units tied onto the head end of a train in Tye Yard. The other two units coupled on as pushers. The train got under way on the 2.2 per cent grade in Tye Yard and entered the tunnel. After the lead locomotive was in the tunnel the pushers suddenly lost all power. The engineer of the lead locomotive did not realize that this had happened because his motors kept running at their normal synchronous speed and he supposed that he was moving ahead at the usual 7.5 mph. What actually had happened was that the train gradually slowed with the wheels running at synchronous speed until it came to a complete stop. The lead locomotive's motors continued to run at synchronous speed and the wheels actually ground themselves down through the rail. The engineer continued to operate the locomotive with the controller in the power position until the usual time for the trip had expired, but he still couldn't see daylight. Finally he shut off to investigate and found that the locomotive had been standing still for a good 10 minutes. The wheels had ground two-thirds of the way through the rail web, and had almost reached the base of the rail. Unbelievable as this may sound to flatland railroaders, the story with a picture of the rail in question actually was published in the 1919 Electric Railway Journal.
THE new electric locomotives would have pleased Jim Hill (he had passed on in 1916) had he been able to see them hauling 3500-ton trains up the Tye River Valley to the old tunnel. Such a train would arrive in Sky from
Seattle double-headed behind two Mikes. One Mike would drop off and a new electric would tie onto the head end with a second electric as pusher. Whereas a Mike and two Mallets had taken 4 hours to move 2500 tons to the summit, the two electrics and the Mike moved the 3500 tons to Tye in only 14 hours. No wonder the Great Northern was willing to electrify this route even with the sure knowledge that part of it would shortly be abandoned. Passenger trains arriving in Skykomish with a steam road engine took one electric helper. This operation began in March of 1927 and continued until the new tunnel was opened in January of 1929.
Steam operation did not cease immediately. Westbound trains continued to be steam operated until late in 1928. Harold S. Ogden, who has spent a working lifetime in electric locomotive propulsion equipment design at GE's locomotive plant in Erie, Pa., remembers taking a passenger train from Skykomish up to Cascade Tunnel Station with the 5010, a brandspanking-new GE electric, late in 1927. The 5010 dropped down the grade to Skykomish running light, but Harold decided to ride a westbound steam freight for the experi
The old Mallet, with a nudge from the pusher (the train was hanging down the east slope) eased into the tunnel's East Portal and picked up speed. After the usual lurch when the hind end came over the top, the engineer made a 20-pound brake pipe reduction, studied the air gauge, and finally said, "Well, I guess we got 'em." Harold says he wondered what would have happened if "we didn't have 'em" - what with the 1.7 per cent grade in the tunnel in front of them and the string of pushing freight cars in back of them. He didn't have to wonder much because the engine crews had told him of trains that had run through the safety switch at the West Portal and on up the "runaway" track. In some tragic cases they had overrun the end of the runaway track and had gone down the mountainside in a jumbled pile of wreckage.
Some years previous, just before the safety switch had been installed, a trainload of apples was dropping down through the tunnel when the engineer made the usual air reduction. Nothing happened. Too late to do anything about the frozen brake pipe just behind the engine, so the crew unloaded when the train shot out of the tunnel and watched it roll down the main line's 2.2 per cent grade. It kept on going for several miles, but could not negotiate the curve at Windy Point,
H. S. Ogden DOWN mountain comes 5011 from Tye to Scenic just before opening of new tunnel.
where it derailed and rolled down the mountain.
Harold relates that the safety rules required that the engineer carry the staff for the runaway track switch. Because of this the engineer brought his train to a complete stop so that the switch could be unlocked and set for the main line. After the brakeman threw the switch the engineer released the brakes and they started down the hill. Shortly before entering the first concrete snowshed just beyond Tye, the engineman dropped off the staff to the Tye agent who would see that it was returned to the East Portal for use by another engine crew.
The first snowshed reminded the crew to tell Harold the reason for its existence. They related the story of the terrible disaster of 1909 when the original showsheds which had been constructed of fir logs had been swept away in the avalanche. After that the Great Northern re-erected the sheds, this time of concrete. From then on, although there had been many slides, there had been no further disasters.
Harold recalls that of the 8 miles of track between Tye and Scenic, 6 miles were under snowsheds! These snowsheds are still visible and railfans who are interested in looking
over the old Tye River Valley line can drive east on U. S. Highway 2 from Seattle or west from Wenatchee and examine the several miles, of these old concrete snowsheds which are clearly visible from the auto route.
After passing through short, curved Windy Point Tunnel, which was built after the apple train had plunged down the mountainside from the track which had then run around the outside of the point, they passed Scenic only a few hundred feet down-although yet several rail miles away with the engineman paying constant attention to his air brake gauges. A few miles farther they crossed Martin's Creek Trestle, now a heavy steel structure which many years before had replaced the original timber trestle, then squealed through Horseshoe Tunnel's continuous curvature and came out onto the lower trestle from which Harold could see the caboose disappearing into the tunnel entrance from the upper trestle. The two ends of the train were in daylight with the middle in the tunnel. Other than the trestle and tunnel trackage, most of the tracks were under snowsheds, with the low line shed just below the high line shed. Twice more Harold saw the caboose headed in the op
posite direction, once on the long horseshoe curve at Scenic and finally on the long loop over Tonga Creek, a few miles outside Skykomish. It took a lot of curvature to cross the Cascades without letting the grade exceed 2.2 per cent.
Three other GE engineers, Ben Luther, J. B. Cox, and R. Walsh, actually experienced a runaway ride down the mountain. Ben, who recently retired from GE's Locomotive Control Engineering Unit, tells the story. They were riding a two-unit GE locomotive back to Skykomish, running light. The locomotive had slowed to a walk at the West Portal and the brakeman ran ahead to unlock the runaway track switch, throwing it for the main line. Just then the engineman discovered that they had lost the air. The GE men and the engine crew immediately found themselves face to face with a most unhappy situation. The eastbound Oriental Limited was very shortly due at the tunnel; in fact, the light locomotive was to meet it at Tye Station just outside the tunnel. Instead, they were rolling with no brakes down a 2.2 per cent grade past the station.
It didn't take long to figure out what the trouble was, but getting it
fixed was another matter. The locomotive had been in regenerative braking approaching the tunnel switch. While in regenerative braking an interlock prevents the locomotive air brakes (except emergency) from working in order to prevent the combination of regenerative and air braking from flattening the wheels. Had the locomotive been hauling a train, train brakes would have been available and the loss of air brakes on the locomotive would not have been too serious. The interlock had stuck open and when the engineer attempted to apply the air brake, after releasing the regenerative brake, nothing happened. He tried an emergency air brake application but that didn't work either because of some defect in the air system. The attempted emergency application then complicated the situation by preventing the regenerative brake from working. The only solution (other than bailing out) was for them to work their way back to the rear cab of the locomotive and transfer the operation to that end. The interlock on that end was operating properly and they were able to restore braking control and get stopped a few miles down the hill. They backed up to Tye, got into a siding off the main line, and within a matter of minutes watched the Oriental Limited go by. Had they not been able to transfer control to the rear cab, there would have been no possible way to avoid a head-on collision with the passenger train, or a derailment or a rollover down the mountainside. As it was, the ride was a wild one while it lasted.
To prevent this ever happening again, the Great Northern installed a special emergency brake valve in all electric locomotive cabs. This was a simple valve which permitted main reservoir air pressure to be directly applied to the brake cylinders. The engineers christened it the "straight shot." Thus, if both regenerative and air braking equipment should fail, the engineman would still be able to stop the locomotive with a straight shot of main reservoir air.
An unusual operation occurred during the last three months of 1928. The new electrification was complete from Wenatchee to the East Portal of the new tunnel, and of course, the old electrification was still in operation from the old tunnel to Skykomish. To break in the new electric locomotives, the Big G had them hauling passenger trains from Wenatchee up to the East Portal. But what to do then? There were 41⁄2 miles of track without wires between there and the old electrification. So they tied on a Mallet to pull the whole train, electric locomotive
and all, up the grade to the old tunnel. From there, of course, the electric could reach up and latch onto a wire again to complete the run to Skykomish. For 20 years electrics had been hauling steam locomotives and their trains through the Cascades, but in the last three months before being banished forever from the mountains, the old steamers momentarily turned the tables.
The new 25-million-dollar tunnel, longest in the Western Hemisphere, was opened for service on January 12, 1929. On that day the first trains operated over the 73 miles from Wenatchee to Skykomish and through the 8-mile tunnel under the wires all the way. Except for some limited operation during World War II, steam operation ceased forever and the old tunnel at Tye was abandoned to Mother Nature. The elimination of the old line between Scenic and Tye has probably contributed more to the prosperity of the Great Northern than has any other line improvement in its history. In addition to shortening the road by some 9 miles, it also removed about 40,000 feet of showsheds along with those nightmarish (in wintertime) 9 miles of 2.2 per cent grade along the side of the mountain between Scenic and Tye, and the track between old Cascade Tunnel Station and Berne (West Portal of the new tunnel). The two big steel trestles over Martin's Creek and several smaller bridges were also eliminated and the Summit was reduced from 3382 feet to 2883 feet.
By January of 1929, national radio hookups were becoming common and since the new Cascade Tunnel had generated considerable public interest, a hookup of 38 stations reaching an estimated 15 million people was arranged for the opening ceremonies. Announcers at the East and West Portals were to describe the opening to the nation over the radio.
One of the new electric locomotives hauled a special train of newspaper reporters and dignitaries through the tunnel from east to west. It first stopped at the East Portal for the opening ceremonies. The two-unit locomotive was just inside the tunnel with the train outside. The sudden change from cold air outside the tunnel to warm air inside the tunnel caused considerable condensation in the locomotive, and on attempting to start the train after the ceremonies, a serious arc-over occurred on the transformer of the second unit. Without the second unit, the first unit was unable to move the train and it began to look as though the long-expected opening of the Cascade Tunnel would end in a fiasco.
Fortunately, the Great Northern had had the foresight to have another electric available and it shoved the train through the tunnel portal and onto the 8-mile downgrade. However, with the trailing unit out of service, it was not possible to use the regenerative brake on the second unit and the train had to be dropped down the grade with air brakes. Because of the danger of overheating brake shoes and wheels, the speed was much slower than it would have been with regenerative braking. The expected 20minute trip took approximately 35 minutes.
A paper cover had been stretched over the West Portal so that the locomotive could burst through it, and the announcer at the West Portal was to report this to the nation with the usual amount of dramatics common to radio announcing of that date. After the 20 minutes passed and no train appeared, the announcer gradually ran out of words and enthusiasm and the network had to fill in with band music. When the locomotive finally did burst through the paper-covered portal, it was probably debatable who was most relieved, the network, the announcer, or the Great Northern.
AFTER the new tunnel was opened additional motive power came to the Cascades. Baldwin-Westinghouse delivered a fifth 1-D-1+1-D-1 and GE delivered four more of the 1-C+C-1 units. The Baldwins usually operated with two units coupled together as a locomotive; such a locomotive developed 88,500 pounds continuous tractive effort at 15 mph and weighed 715,000 pounds. Maximum allowable speed was 45 mph. A single GE unit developed 60,000 pounds continuous tractive effort, weighed 518,000 pounds with 410,000 pounds on drivers, and had a maximum safe operating speed of 50 mph.
To see two of the new electrics taking 5000 tons from Skykomish over the 24 miles to the new East Portal at Berne would have made Jim Hill happy; probably it would have amazed him to see them doing it in 1 hour 30 minutes. Something new had been added to railroading which probably would have been immediately recognized by Hill. Sharp railroader that he was, he would almost certainly have changed his slogan from “Maximum ton-miles with minimum trainmiles" to "Maximum gross ton-miles per train-hour," a newer yardstick by which operating vice-presidents measure the efficiency of their train operation. This is just another way of saying," Move more tons faster."
Before the electrification took over, the new Class P2 Mountain-type en
gines came to the Cascade Division. Twenty-seven of these 4-8-2's were purchased in 1923 from Baldwin. These locomotives handled the through passenger service on the Great Northern and ultimately relinquished their job in the Cascades only because it was not economical for an electric locomotive to haul a steam locomotive over the 73 miles of electrified territory. In 1925 one of these, the 2517, became the first (and perhaps the only) steam locomotive to make the round trip from the Mississippi River to the Coast with no servicing other than that obtainable during ordinary fuel and water stops. The 2500-series Class P2 Mountain types hauled the cream of the Great Northern's passenger, mail, express, and silk trains until new Cascade Tunnel opened. Their 73-inch drive wheels were backed up with boiler capacity and cylinder dimensions that let them take eight cars up the 2.2 per cent grade to the tunnel without a helper and without dropping a pound below their designated 210-pound boiler pressure. These locomotives represented the first departure from the Belpaire firebox which had been standard on Great Northern locomotives since the 19th century. The Class P2 Mountain types had fireboxes of the radial stay design.
No story of the Great Northern would be complete without mention of the famous silk trains. These usually consisted of 8 to 10 baggage cars loaded with raw silk bolts from Japan. This was a very perishable and extremely valuable cargo a single trainload could be worth in excess of 3 million dollars. The high value and perishability of the cargo called for the fastest of handling, and the Great Northern was known for the way it handled these trains. The GN's Pacifics or P2 Mountains usually hauled these trains, although occasionally the rebuilt Class E Ten-Wheelers were used.
Perhaps the most notable of fast silk train runs occurred in 1924. At that time the world-famed Oriental Limited, the last word in luxury trains, covered the 1800 miles from St. Paul to Seattle in 60 hours; but even the new Oriental Limited, like every other train on Great Northern rails, got out of the way of a silk train, which had rights over everything. At 1:05 p.m. on August 13, 1924, Mountain 2512 left Seattle with 10 baggage cars of silk and a coach for the train crew. The 2512 took the train through to Skykomish where Consolidation 1101 tied onto the head end for the run
EAST PORTAL of old Cascade Tunnel holds 5011 and 5010 in 1928 publicity classic.
Courtesy of H. S. Ogden.