This blog is supposed to be the words behind the image. Trains are an important part of the Eastern Washington story and appear to make a logical follow up to my posts on roads and alleys. There are, however, a couple of problems. It might be possible to list all of the different sets of tracks that connected the towns like a children’s connect the dots game over the last 100 years but it would be boring for all save the most avid train enthusiast. A map of just the rail lines in this region would look like a patchwork quilt that has been taken apart and reassembled several times. Further, when I attempted to piece together their history I found that the different lines have been traded, fought over, fragmented, subsumed and now abandoned so often that it is like unraveling the proverbial Gordian Knot. I have heard rumors that some of the more recently abandoned lines may be reestablished, who knows.
Two views of the tracks, north and south of Union Pacific Railroad at Palouse Falls.
The photo below is of the siding to load grain into rail cars. The track is a complete circle so that it looks like a child’s gift under the Christmas tree.
Above is the abandoned bed at Benge, WA. Miles and miles of these tracks required blasting through many feet hard basalt. Much if not most of the labor was done by Chinese laborers mentioned in my last post on Lake View Cemetery.
Not only did the tracks require blasting through basalt, but also the Snake River had to be traversed. Two such bridges occur near Lyon’s Ferry, WA. The first is of the more spectacular 4000 foot long, 260 foot high Joso High Bridge for Union Pacific RR built in 1912. The second is the Great North West RR bridge just upstream.
Finally, some tracks were able to follow the bottom of coulees where the floods did the carving of basalt thousands of years ago.