Well...after reviewing all the Altamont Group History - I thought I would throw in a little history about the 1962 NP wreck at Granite Lake.
Yes... the wreck at Granite Lake was quite a "big one" as wrecks goes. You don't lose the whole front part of a transcontinental passenger train into a frozen lake and not make the headlines.
This was light years before so-called celebrities of second rate entertainers like Lindsey Lohan and Charlie Sheen make more "news" than actual events that affect real people and not just egos of history wannabes.
I looked for my old newspaper articles of the wreck – but…could not seem to find them.
So…here’s what I remember and what I was told by a Northern Pacific employee.
From all “official” accounts, this accident was caused by the train leaving the tracks at high speed on a curve. My brother’s father-in-law, Frank Reisenbigler [1906 – 1975] of the Spokane Valley was high on the seniority list on the Northern Pacific at the time [1960’s].
Well… since he knew that his daughter’s future son-in-law's brother was a “railfan” he let me ride along on a few switching jobs around the NP yard at Yardley, WA. While riding around he expounded on his experiences of life working for the railroad.
He did specifically mention the Granite Lake wreck as it was a sensitive subject among NP employees in the area at the time. It appears that most of the employees knew that the railroad was out and out lying about the cause of the accident. It was not “high speed” that derailed the locomotive but it was a broken rail. Since the front-end crew died in the accident, the railroad chose to make it appear that the crew was at fault instead of the railroad company.
He said that this lying about the cause fatality accidents was common practice for the Northern Pacific. He said that anytime a crew member was killed and it could not be corroborated by convincing evidence otherwise – they would always blame the crew…not the railroad.
He stated that in one accident in the 1940’s he was the engineer in an accident where his train was rear-ended by another train. Since the Conductor & Rear-Brakeman were killed in the caboose – the “official” cause of the accident was that the Conductor had been drinking and did not read the train orders correctly, thereby causing the accident. Frank had worked with the Conductor for years and knew he was a Teetotaler – the man never drank.
He stated that it was common practice the blame the crew and alcohol [read - Evaro Hill accident...crew had been drinking - fell asleep] for any accident they could. They would not accept any responsibility if it could be avoided.
Now… back to Granite Lake. Lots of urban myths surround that accident. No - - -there are still no locomotives or parts of locomotives still buried in the mud. After the bypass was built and the old trestle was still in place – my Dad & I would walk around on the trestle and do some exploring. It was easy to see from atop the trestle everything in the bottom of the lake. It’s not that deep where the train landed in the lake! Trust me – there are no locomotive parts down there!
As for Frank Reisenbigler’s story concerning Granite Lake? Well, it could be just an old “Union vs Management” disagreement or just a story made up to impress a teenage railfan. Since Frank had other stories that seemed to support the sinister actions on the part of the Northern Pacific Railway. Perhaps…there was some truth to the matter.
Considering that…why is such a huge accident NOT listed in the “official” ICC reports??? I see “Conspiracy Theory” written all over it !! Go bloggers go!!
Is it any really any different today? – do not many businesses, railroad’s or otherwise always “spin” bad things into “good” things and if they can blame the janitor or some minimum wage underling for some horrendous disaster – that’s great!
Talk to ya later,