Seattle Yard generally operated seven engines on three shifts per day; jobs at: 6:30 am, 7:00 am, 7:59 am; 2:30 pm, 3:59 pm; 10:30 pm and 11:59 pm. Jobs were filled on a daily markup board, the same system used on the Northern Pacific. Yardmen of low seniority, such as me, were lucky to make the 3:59 pm job. The 2:30 pm job was the higher prestige front "lead" job; staffed by self-described good "car handlers," perhaps seen as cowboys by others. The 3:59 job did some front lead switching, but mainly tramped around; taking cuts to the waterfront; or working barges; or going to the Argo Interchange; and often took #200's connection out to Black River for that train's 8:00 pm arrival from Tacoma.

Contrary to the conventional thinking about the Milwaukee Road, Seattle Yard was the major generator of traffic for Lines West. While it might seem obvious in retrospect in that Seattle is a larger city than Tacoma, the Milwaukee's presence in the Northwest railroad scene was obscure in Seattle but dominant in Tacoma. But Seattle provided the freight for more than one, and perhaps two mainline trains a day:

  1. Out of the Port of Seattle, 30 or more TOFC/COFC cars daily.
  2. British Columbia Railway traffic via barge from North Vancouver, 15 or more cars daily.
  3. Barge traffic from the Port Angeles - Port Townsend 14th Sub, 15 cars daily.
  4. Cargill and Fisher Flour grain traffic terminating in Seattle.
  5. Port of Seattle break-bulk from Pier 30, 10 or more boxcars daily.
  6. Interchange traffic received from, or delivered to the Burlington Northern and Union Pacific at the Argo Interchange.
  7. Traffic originating or terminating at various Seattle industries such as Sears, Roebuck & Co., U.S. Plywood, West Coast Paper, Sam Wylde Co. and Rainier Cold Storage.



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