N.P. Ry.

Won't Come Back from Dead Man's Curve





Members of the Northern Pacific Railway Historical Association who are just now receiving the current issue of the Mainstreeter in their mailboxes will spy a story by West Ender Jack Christensen beginning on page 21. In his story, Jack covers the wreck of Second No. 2 near Cle Elum, Wash., on November 21, 1942. This occurred at a place with a sharp ten or 11 degree left hand curve which had long been known as Deadman's Curve. The wreck killed engineer Max Moon, mangled No. 2249, a Q-6 class Pacific (4-6-2), and also mangled the right leg of fireman Johnny Zybura, who eventually lost the leg but kept right on working for the NP.
The Northern Pacific had slowly been improving this difficult spot almost 50 years before Max Moon left the rails there, but only got around to ironing out the alignment after 1942. Please note E.J. Pearson's closing comments to J.Q. Jamieson on January 18, 1902. Given the intermodal traffic snarls reported of late, and the importance of railroads in the land bridge role, his comments seem prophetic.


Northern Pacific Railroad Company.
Ellensburg, Wash., February 18, 1892

Charles S. Bihler
Division Engineer
Tacoma

Dear Sir:

Attached please find map, profile and estimate of proposed change at Deadman's Curve. The estimate covers the change of line between station 8122 and 05 and 8197 and 35 and does not allow of additional consequent work in cutting down bridge and trestle west of connection in order to obtain a .5 grade.
The new line will be 5,460 feet. Old line between same points is 7,530. Difference equals 2,070 feet.
The new line has 52 degrees of curvature. Present line has 170 degrees 33 minutes. Difference equals 118 degrees 33 minutes.
The new line does away with bridges 144 and 145 for which there is recommend this year an expenditure of $1,900.00.
The new line also cuts off the east end of trestle fill to the amount of $1,000.00 worth of embankment. It has also to get credit of 1 1/2 miles of second class 56 pound steel at say $28.00 per ton equaling $3,696.00.
I do not and the value of distance and curvature as I have no idea of the number of trains you propose to figure on. Mr. [George A.] Kyle when making a reconnaissance over this division recently, told me he had instructions from E.H. McH [Edwin H. McHenry, NP Chief Engineer] to assume 12 trains. Does he mean 12 trains both ways or just 12 trains to pass over the road in 24 hours? At present there are frequently 6 trains run both ways. I presume he'd figure on an increase of trains.

H.B. Kelliher
Resident Engineer

Approximate Estimate of Cost of Proposed Change at Deadman's Curve M.P. 154-156, 5,460 feet of change.
Right of way: nine acres at $75 $675
Clearing (heavy): three acres at $90 270
Bridging: 108 line feet pipe culverts 260
Grading:
7,000 cubic feet of solid rock at .90 cents 6,300
4,000 cubic feel of loose rock at .40 cents 1,600
25,000 cubic feet of earth at .20 cents 5,000
9,000 cubic feet of borrow at .20 cents 1,800
Tunnel: 657 lineal feet of tunnel at $60 per foot 39,420
Ballast: 1,600 cubic yards at .20 cents 480
Train service: 750
Ties: 3,000 at .30 900
Rails: 110 tons of 66 pound at $34 3740
Spikes and Fastenings:
38 kegs spikes at $4.20 159.60
8 kegs bolts at $7.80 62.40
12,000 angle bars at .02 cents 242
Track laying: 275
Subtotal: 61,454
Contingencies (ten percent): 5,045
Total: $66,500


Northern Pacific Railway Company
Office of the Division Superintendent

On Road
December 10, 1901

Mr. J.Q. Jamieson,
Division Engineer,
Tacoma, Washington

Dear Sir:-

Between mile post 99 and 100 just east of the crossing of the Clealum and between Easton and Clealum the line detours to the south around a long, low and apparently narrow ridge, making distance and bad curvature.
From the tracks it looks as if we could get across this ridge without difficulty. If it could be arranged to do this in order to obtain material for the Clealum yard we might accomplish a very nice improvement in alignment.
I beg to suggest that the matter be looked into. The material of course would not be available unless the output of the cut could be taken out in such a manner that we could get a shovel put into it reached by regular cars.

E.J. Pearson
Superintendent


Northern Pacific Railway Company
Engineering Department
Office of the Division Engineer, Western Divisions

December 18, 1901
Tacoma, Wash.

J.Q.J.

I have attached to Mr. Pearson's letter an estimate of the proposed change of line which he suggests. This change of line was located in 1892 and maps and profiles are on file in the drafting room. I made estimate for this proposed change of line about six months ago, the estimates being attached hereto. The situation is as follows:
The Clealum River, during the high water period, over flows its banks and cuts down through Bridge No. 145, the land being so much lower in the vicinity of Bridge 145 that there is great danger that the river will turn and run down through this, throwing out the present Bridge No. 146 entirely and making a large bridge necessary at 145. The proposed arrangements were to change the location of the line, as suggested by Mr. Pearson, cutting through the high point and putting the large bridge right in the low place, and filling Bridge 146 entirely. There were two estimated made on this proposed change of line; one was to have a tunnel and the other for an open cut. The tunnel line would cost complete, with an 150 foot pin connected span, $134,042.00. The open cut, with an 150 foot pin connected truss complete, would cost $82,276.00, providing no rock was encountered in the cut. If rock was encountered, the estimated was made amounting to $188,280.00. At the present time there is a dike extending across the low lands which has to be repaired and kept up in order to prevent the water cutting through, and there is always danger of this being done, even with the present dike. The cost of maintaining this dike has been considerable in the past years. By this change of line it would throw out Bridge 145 and permit the filling of the present Bridge 146, placing the new bridge at a point 300 feet east of mile post 155. The cost of change of line is very reasonable, owing to the heavy cut through the point, if made as an open cut; and if a tunnel is made, it is more than probable that it would have to be lined.

F.S. Darling


December 31, 1901
Tacoma, Wash.

Mr. W.L. Darling,
Chief Engineer,
St. Paul, Minn.

Dear Sir:-

If the line were changed a new channel would need to be excavated down through some low ground, where the tendency now is to overflow, and a new site is marked in red on the map, but it shows too far to the East; I should located it a little farther to the West than is shown in order to not have it so badly askew, and also to fit the topography of the country better. The estimate for this possible change of line does not include the truss bridge, as that must be built in any case on either line.
The profile shows two grade lines. The upper one is the ones estimated on and is for an open cut. The lower one had formerly been estimated on for a tunnel, but this figured out about $20,000.00 more expensive than an open cut. This point is probably solid rock, and has been so estimated.

J.Q. Jamieson
Division Engineer


Northern Pacific Railway Company
Office of the Chief Engineer

January 10, 1902
St. Paul, Minn.

J.Q. Jamieson, Esq.
Division Engineer,
Tacoma, Wash.

Dear Sir:-

The General Manager has decided that the abutments for Bridge 146, Pacific Division, shall be temporary. I wish you would therefore arrange to give Mr. Pearson the necessary plans for them, which should be our regular standard modified to suit existing conditions. Please take this matter up with Mr. Pearson so that he will understand it. All material for yard at Clealum as far as practicable, should be taken from the proposed change of line. It may be that there not be as much rock as is shown on your print, and it would therefore be economy to take as much material off from that line as possible, on connection with the yard work.

W[illiam] L[afayette] Darling
Chief Engineer


January 16, 1902
Tacoma, Wash.

Mr. E.J. Pearson,
Superintendent,
Tacoma, Wash.

Dear Sir:

I have a letter from Mr. Darling in which he states that in view of the possibility of line change at Bridge 146, First District, the General Manager has decided that the abutments of that bridge shall be temporary; so I suppose that all that will be needed in the way of foundations there will be to cut off the present piling at the proper height for capping according to the usual plan for new bridge seats. This is on the supposition that the piling is in sufficiently good condition. The Bridge Supervisor can no doubt advise as to this.
Mr. Darling also states that the material for the yard at Clealum as far as is practicable, should be taken from the proposed line change, as it may be there is not as much rock there as we anticipate, we having estimated largely on rock excavation requiring tunnel. If this should prove possible the cost would be very decidedly decreased. I send you herewith map and profile of this proposed change of line, so that you made judge the convenience of working it. I will have to take up the matter of right of way for this change with Mr. Darling, as he did not mention it in his letter.

J.Q. Jamieson
Division Engineer


January 16, 1902
Tacoma, Wash.

Mr. W.L. Darling,
Chief Engineer,
St. Paul, Minn.

Dear Sir:

Answering your letter of the 10th instance, regarding abutments for Bridge 146, First District, Pacific Division, and in which you state that all material for the yard at Clealum as far as practicable, should be taken from the proposed change of line: We will first have to get some kind of an option on the right of way for this line change under consideration. Shall I request Mr. King to see what it can be got for?
I expect that where the ice pond is shown on the map we will cause considerable damage to the party who puts up ice there, as we will cut the pond in two. In the estimate of the cost I included a permanent opening through the bank, spanned with an I-beam, for the purpose of bringing the ice through to the storage house, but at the same time we would decrease very largely the area of the pond.

J.Q. Jamieson
Division Engineer


On Road
January 18, 1902

Mr. J.Q. Jamieson,
Division Engineer,
Tacoma, Washington

Dear Sir:-

I note that the new line has a five degree curve. We are in hopes of making a high speed line down the Yakima Valley, one in which the descending trains with our new passenger power with large drivers can make very fast time. It is impossible to do this on ascending grades and is specially desirable on the descending.
High speed lines should not have curves of over three degrees if it can be avoided as they can be so elevated that the highest speeds will ride nicely without securing an elevation which is so excessive that it is disadvantageous under the slow speed ascending trains.
I believe in the interest of future service that we should specially endeavor in our line improvement to secure a rate of curvature such that it will not be a restricting feature to high speed service, and to the end hope that it may be possible to modify the plan for this line change to such an extent that when finally completed the curvature will in as respect act as a speed restricting point. Possibly this can be accomplished with a four degree curve. At all events I urgently hope that the matter may receive consideration.
I anticipate that the day will come when we can afford to expend liberally to increase the stretches of track on the low descending valley grades for the highest possible rates of speed. This means restriction of curves to a rate low enough so they will not make it necessary to reduce the speed of fast trains for them. I understand that economy with the present number of trains does not figure. Nevertheless the day is approaching in which speed restricting curves will be a great disadvantage as short time across the continent means high speed on the descending grades, it being impracticable to secure the same on the long ascending grades.
Won't you be kind enough to place the suggestion before the Chief Engineer if this is not a matter which you decide?

E.J. Pearson
Superintendent


January 20, 1902
Tacoma, Wash.

Mr. E.J. Pearson
Superintendent,
Tacoma, Wash.

Dear Sir:-

Answering your letter of the 18th instance, regarding reducing curvature on line change under consideration at Bridge No. 146, First District. I will see what can be done, but doubt if the curvature can be reduced to less than four degrees, unless this material turns out to be something favorable for steam shovel work.

J.Q. Jamieson
Division Engineer


Northern Pacific Railway Company
Office of the Division Superintendent

January 23, 1902 Tacoma, Wash.

Mr. J.Q. Jamieson,
Division Engineer,
Tacoma, Washington

Dear Sir:-

''..in regard to the line change near Bridge 146 on the First District: Is there any appropriation for this change? What should be involved in opening this cut and putting it in shape so that a steam shovel could be operated?''

It does not seem to be practicable to secure material from this place for the Clealum yard on account of impossibility of operating steam shove until a large amount of work has been done in grading and putting a temporary track through the cut so that a train can reach the shovel.

E.J. Pearson
Superintendent


January 31, 1902
Tacoma, Wash.

Mr. E.J. Pearson
Superintendent,
Tacoma, Wash.

Dear Sir:-

Answering your letter of the 23rd instance, regarding proposed line change for Bridge No. 146, First District.
There is no appropriation for the line change, and although I wrote Mr. Darling asking if we might get an option on the right of way, I have not yet heard from him. I expect him out, though, in the course of a week and I will take the matter up with him again. To open this cut, however, so a steam shove could be used would mean a large amount of excavation preliminary to putting in the steam shove, as you may see from the profile I sent you, the excavation being a through cut and from sixty to eight feet deep to the proposed grade and averaging this for about seventy feet in length. Of course, a temporary grade could be used, but this would only be a partial help as we could not get up very high in the short distance, then there is the uncertainty of its being gravel. The point of the hill shows solid rock, but it is not exposed anywhere else in the bench farther back, which has the appearance of being gravel.

J.Q. Jamieson
Division Engineer


SOURCE:
Northern Pacific Collection 128
File Box 94-2, Folder 21
K. Ross Toole Archives
Mike and Maureen Mansfield Library
University of Montana
Missoula, Montana



Author: John A. Phillips, III. Title: Won't Come Back From Deadman's Curve. URL: www.employees.org/~davison/nprha/deadman.html.

© August 21, 2000

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