208 miles from Tacoma, Othello was the Coast Division crew change point on the mainline. The next crew change point was St. Maries, Idaho, where the mainline entered the Rocky Mountain Division. Prior to 1975, Coast Division mainline crews changed at Cle Elum, Wash., approximately half-way between Tacoma and Othello. In that year the "run-through" Tacoma to Othello was inaugurated, with Tacoma and Othello crews staffing alternating trains, on a first in, first out basis.
Othello and Avery (45 miles east of St. Maries, flanked the gap in mainline electrification, which extended west from Harlowtown, Mont., to Tacoma (Tacoma to Othello electrification ended in 1972; Avery to Harlowtown electrification ended in 1974).
Othello, Adams County, Wash., is a small agricultural center. In the Milwaukee's day, Othello generated traffic consisted mainly of agricultural products, including potatoes, outbound; and agricultural supplies inbound.
Layovers in Othello tended to be more lengthy than usual (e.g. Burlington Northern layovers in Wenatchee, Wash. were little longer than the legal rest period). The accommodations were at a two story motel and bar, about a mile east of town. Restaurant and cafe choices were limited, and for extra men without wheels, the layover in Othello was long and dull. That we received 100 miles detention ("alimony") for the third eight hour period of each day after tie up, was little compensation. The situation was somewhat different for the regular men in the east end pool, most of which kept old "beater" cars at Othello Depot (in pictures of the depot from this period, one can see the parking lot full of employee cars). For these men, the layovers were paid hunting and fishing vacations, and in some cases, welcome leaves from their wives. Add in one way road pay of 208 miles, plus 12 miles for each of two mountain ranges, plus 7 miles for not stopping to eat, and plus Lines West's extremely generous initial and final terminal delay (all of it, we did not give up the first 30 minutes as they did on the Burlington Northern), and we are talking about the best paid and most sought after run in North America.
But for extra men, who worked everyday anyway, we would have preferred to keep the wheels rolling and forget the layover in Othello. Three or four days at that motel; hanging around that tiny swimming pool with the motel's low life band members and their groupies, was a bit much. Othello was no Las Vegas.