Re: Aerial photo Black River Jct PNW interest
Author: Nussel Snouts
Date: 12-24-2017 - 14:27
I started writing this last night but stopped, wanting to ask my brother about the woman tower operator, remembering him talking about her years ago. I removed the part about the Black River operator shack by Long Acres, because George Andrews gave us a better and more detailed description than I wrote. I watched trains and horse races many times from the platform of this building. The building was small but well built. Below is my altered original message.
Thank you for the response and good info. It might have been Mr. Nelson that let me pull the levers at Black River tower one summer evening. Back in the day I had heard about the woman that worked the tower through my brother He worked on an extra gang for UP in the early seventies, right after returning from Viet Nam, under the supervision of Roe Decker. He knew her son from the days of living in outfit cars in Eastern Washington, and whenever they were stopped near stations, this fellow would run into the depot to call his mother at Black River Jct. Asking him this morning, he could not remember her name, but knew she worked the first trick. He thought it was Dutch, her son was tall with blonde hair but forgot his name too. I had a friend named James, that dropped out of Cleveland high school and he also ended up on the gang with my brother. Later after my brother left the UP, a childhood friend of my brother and I, went to work for the same gang. He told me about a new hire clobbering Decker with an aligning bar or shovel and he was pretty badly hurt.
I grew up near Skyway, moving there in 1956 and similar to your schooling attended O'dea high school, following my time at St. Paul's grade school. Others from St. Paul's went to Kennedy and Seattle Prep the more snobbish of the three.
I also remember the black men going through what you were unloading and that the burning barrels had two functions, heat and burning the wood off valuable metals. Dad always stripped everything of metal, some of which he would save to be put to other uses, so the metal he did discard was already processed. Those were informal days, dad would also go to the dump with his tools when he needed an appliance part, back when they allowed true recycling.
The road you can see going under the south leg of the wye, used to continue through two additional underpasses going under all the main lines. This was before my time and not sure when they were eliminated.
I rode the north leg of the wye next to the sewage treatment plant on a Casey Jones Excursion that went around Lake Washington, but that was before construction of the plant.
I clearly remember the hobo jungle. Walking the tracks in the daylight we never saw any of them, just the smoke of their fires. The first time we did meet one was late at night. The old fellow went by the name Rebel. My brother and some friends of ours took a few weekend trips riding the Milwaukee freights east. One time standing in the pitch black yards the chilling voice of Rebel called out, "Dangerous work boys, working the yards at night". When his face appeared out of the darkness he said, "I knew you was alright, cause I saw your bags with ya". I asked him if he worked for the Milwaukee and he replied, "No I don't work for the Milwaukee, I work with the Milwaukee, guarding these cars at night". We chatted with him for a time and he wandered off. He carried a pistol and was serious about his work.
There was also a Peoples National Bank at the corner of S Othello and Rainier Ave. S where I cashed my checks as a teen while working for South End Screen. I recall a huge framed print of a well known Asahel Curtis photo hanging on the wall behind the tellers. It was of a Milwaukee bipolar on a curve near Snoqualmie pass. Always wondered what happened to that print.
Now I have a question for you. Beacon Coal Mine Rd intersected with Monster Rd just north of the old rock quarry. Heading north on the Beacon Coal Mine Rd and just past what was the old Spider Staging Co. there was a concrete structure to the right, well off the road in the woods. The structure was built of thick concrete and had round portholes, intentionally built with the appearance of a ship. It had more than one level with ladders like you would find on a ship. There was an article many decades ago in the Seattle Times newspaper about this long gone structure, probably just before its demolition.
I am very happy that I grew up in our era, thanks trackwalker and George.