d Olympic Peninsula (14th Sub): Port Angeles to Port Townsend Local

pix: PA14thSub caption: "Montana Division and Washington Division Joint Time Table No. 2; Sunday, April 24, 1977"

Exotic Enclaves

In political geography the word "enclave" suggests visions of romantic tropical imperial obscurity: Portuguese Goa in India; the Panama Canal Zone; the Spanish colonies of Ceuta and Melilla in modern day Morocco. These kind of visions are not unknown to railfans, railroading is geographical and has its romantic side. But for a class one, mainline railroad, exotic enclaves are not the norm. Except on the Milwaukee Road Coast Division. We had two enclaves: Bellingham and Port Angeles. Both were isolated from the Milwaukee Road system, Bellingham was accessible over the chief competitor's rails; and the Port Angeles Line was not accessible by rail at all.

The 50 mile long, east - west Port Angeles 14th Subdivision ran east from Port Angeles in Clallam County to Port Townsend in Jefferson County. The connection to the outside world was via two Milwaukee Road owned 15 car capacity, three track barges, the MT 20 & MT 21; which were operated between the barge landing in Port Townsend and Pier 27 in Seattle. The barges made the round trip five times a week and were worked at Pier 27 by Seattle Yard crews. At one time the Milwaukee Road had its own tug, but by the 1970's this work was contracted out to Foss Tug.

The 14th Sub was a forest products line, little else was carried (occasional grain to Sequim and clay to P.A.). Earlier in the century there were passenger trains and general freight, but with the high cost and time delay of barging, by mid century all that made sense were bulk movements. On Washington's Olympic Peninsula, bulk movement meant forest products. To my knowledge, by 1977 there were four main shippers on the line: the Crown Zellerbach mill in Port Angeles, where the P.A. Yard was located; the I.T.T. Rayonier mill just east of P.A.; a small forest products reload east of Sequim called "Tukey's", and the Port Townsend Paper mill on the waterfront at Port Townsend. The line was worked by three jobs: a day yard job in Port Angeles; a yard job in Port Townsend whose hours were governed by the tide; and the Port Angeles Local, a! 20 to 30 car turn that originated nightly, Monday through Friday, in P.A. and ran to Port Townsend. The Local went on duty at 6:30 p.m. in P.A. at the C.Z. mill; en route worked the Rayonier mill, the Sequim team track, and Tukey's; swapped trains in Port Townsend, and arrived back at P.A. in the early hours.

pix: PAmerge1 caption: "If the 14th Sub Division was not picturesque, it was nothing"

Work Extras

Ask any rail what a work extra is, and you will hear about wreckers, culvert cleaning, gravel spreading, or a hundred other things. Those are "work trains." The term "work extra" is a legal term, not a description of working on the railroad. The exact definition for work extra: "Extra Train. --A train not authorized by a timetable schedule. It may be designated as: Extra--For any extra train except work extra, Work Extra--For an extra train authorized by Form H train order." (Consolidated Code of Operating Rules, Edition of 1967) Perusing the examples of Form H train orders we can conclude that a work extra: 1. Is authorized to move in any direction, at any time, between the stations indicated. 2. Is required to clear first class trains by five minutes, and protect against second class, third class, and extra trains (per Rule 99); unless specifically relieved of protecting against any of those trains, in which case it falls upon those trains to protect against the work extra.

As we see in the order below, the Port Angeles Local, #960, did not receive the usual running order "Engine 504 runs extra Port Angeles to Port Townsend . . ." but rather was instructed as "Engine 504 works extra between Port Angeles and Port Townsend . . ." This device effectively gave the railroad to Engine 504, and in this case, for the work week, absent 10 minutes (two minutes a day). There was absolutely no chance that another train would be on the line (if in yard limits on either end, where there was a yard engine, no order was required). Given the isolated, independent nature of the Port Angeles line it was necessary that the crew of Engine 504 not be encumbered by restriction. For example, what if the crew encountered more windfalls than usual, and ran out of gas for the chainsaw? They had to have the liberty to reverse direction and run back to Sequim to buy gas.

Also by using work orders, the Road escaped the expense of having operators on duty to issue train orders. The agent, Johnny Sandvold , who worked days, could copy one order, once a week, and be done with it.

pix: PortAngelesClearance no caption pix: PortAngelesorder819 no caption pix: PortAngelesorder904 no caption

Train #960, The Port Angeles Local

On duty at 6:00 p.m., we still have a good three hours of sun left on this long July day. The train was made up by the Port Angeles day yard job, and is on two of the three tracks at the Crown Zellerbach industrial tracks that constitute the Milwaukee Road yard. Jobs on the 14th Sub operate with short train crews: a conductor and one brakeman (presumably this old agreement was on account of the short trains, light yard work, and extra expense of the barges to service the line - that expense had to be extracted). As the brakeman my first job is to wye the engine. This is done on the remnant of the Port Angeles Western line outside the gate. Meanwhile Conductor Porter makes up the air on one of the tracks (the 14th Sub was lacking in car toads as well as trainmen; the whole line could have been an early model for a Railamerica operation). Having established eye co! ntact with Porter, I tie Engine 504 to the first track and join him in making up the air on the second track. Then we double the tracks together and I walk the air to the head end while he does the same to the caboose. Brakes release and the mighty Port Angeles Local is on the move.

Port Angeles is a summer tourist town. It is the terminus for the Black Ball car ferry M/V Coho to Victoria, British Columbia, across the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Each evening, without fail, the crowds of tourists waiting for the ferry gawk in amazement as the old waterfront railroad comes alive with the sight of the daily freighter of the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad. Who knew?

pix: PAmerge2 caption: "L: P.A. Depot Top R: Sequim Depot Bottom R: I.T.T. Rayonier Mill"

East of Port Angeles we approach our first work, the I.T.T. Rayonier Mill. The spur enters the mill from the eastside so no special moves are required to spot the mtys and pick up the loads. Except here is the exception to the rule that loads went off the 14th and mtys back: for we had a tanker of ammonia for the mill. And, ominously, we had an mty tanker out.

* * *

For trainmen, Port Angeles - Port Townsend constitutes a separate seniority district. This is distinct from the Bellingham arrangement, where local seniority governs Bellingham local road and yard trains but is within the Tacoma seniority district. P.A. trainmen cannot work in the rest of the Coast Division. But as always, the Tacoma Road Extra Board covers their needs when their one or two extra men were not available (usually in the summer). Thus if the 14th folded, they would all be out of luck. For engineers the arrangement is the same (and the same for Bellingham in the case of engineers). But this day we have a Tacoma Extra Engineer, "Mercury" Morris, who is never none too happy about being the lowest seniority engineer in Tacoma (hopefully he eventually got his reward driving Sounders, U.P. yellow or B.N.S.F. of some kind of color).

pix: PAmerge3 no caption

Now, climbing out of Morse Creek, Morris is griping about the P.A. job ". . . only 102 miles for 12 hours . . ." "But we get final and initial terminal delay" says I. "Doesn't even amount to firing on the mainline" says he, and then "why did Porter make that extra move to get that tanker on the rear end anyway?" "Don't know" says I, "maybe it was to entertain the girls."

Porter has two teenage girls in the caboose, his niece and her girlfriend. They pestered him for a ride, but now he is on the radio, bringing us to a halt to spot the caboose at the east U.S. 101 crossing at Sequim. The girls are bored and are going to hitch hike back to P.A.!

* * *

"What now?" says Mercury. "We have to pull the team track." "Caboose to 504, cut off the engine to clear the crossing, then come into the team track at Sequim Depot." "Look alive Mercury" says I, an old head on the P.A. line, this being my second week working there, "there's always a crowd at Sequim to watch the train and the sunset."

* * *

"These hicks up here don't know much about railroading, with their toy trains and endless 10 mph line. They wouldn't be much help on the Tacoma Lead Job or on an eighty car freight jamming down from Boylston." "This is a different world Mercury. They have tides to worry about, and some pretty cool moves like what we're going to do at Townsend."

. . . .. swooooosh . . . .

"Crosby, that fool Porter dumped the air!"

And then it was revealed: the mty ammonia tank was in front of the caboose for a reason. This particular car, ACFX 18972, Porter had the number memorized, when empty and eastbound, had a tendency to derail at the exact same spot on every trip. I believe that was around mile post 18. Porter had kept his eye on the tanker like a hawk.

"Well I guess we are going to town without the cab and the tank and you won't get to see the cool move we make at Townsend with the caboose." That move was for the conductor to bleed off the caboose, uncouple (no need to get the pin on the downhill), tie the caboose down, get the switch, and then let the caboose roll down through the siding around the train on the downhill coming onto the beach that was Port Townsend Yard; the head man getting the switch at the east end.. Presto, the cab was on the engine for the trip around the short wye at the sail boat repair shop.

* * *

But first, a stop at the small mill at Tuckey's, located on the south side of the line. The short spur was an incline, to the east. I cut off the train and pull the engine by while Porter rolls the loaded box out of the spur, then we get the train together and continue over the short hill to Port Townsend.

At Townsend we go around the wye, double out our train and leave for P.A. We spot Tuckey's, then eventually come to a halt at the derailed tank car at MP 18. Port Angeles agent Johnny Sandvold, or someone else is there to drop off the P.A. yard crew and pick us up. It may not have been a great payday for Mercury, but I did just fine, per the caboose rule: 253 miles. Being a hoghead may not be all that it is cracked up to be!

pix: PAbridge caption: "View East, Dungeness River Bridge"

"The Railroad Bridge Park Howe truss bridge is 150' long and the trestle is 500' long. When the railroad went defunct, big portions of the rail corridor were quickly sold and various trestles were demolished. The Railroad Bridge Park trestle was saved, however, when the Trust for Public Lands purchased the 7 acres of land (100' wide by 3000' long) which included the bridge and trestle. This section of the Olympic Discovery Trail is now part of the Railroad Bridge Park." - PAtoday.com

"The Dungeness River Audubon Center at Railroad Bridge Park is an active partnership of four organizations operating under an MOU renewed and enhanced in summer 2001. The two original partners were Rainshadow Natural Science Foundation (renamed "River Center Foundation") and Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe and two partners added in 1997 Olympic Peninsula Audubon Society and National Audubon Society (NAS) represented by Audubon Washington, The WA State Office of NAS." - dungenessrivercenter.org




© 1976-2007 John Crosby. Photos may not be used without permission. All rights reserved.