N.P. Ry.

The Tell Tale
January 24, 1997

By the time you read this issue of the Tell Tale, no doubt you will have heard all about Northern Pacific's new passenger program, designed - to quote from our double-page announcement which will appear in the November 15 issue of the Saturday Evening Post - "to give our passengers every comfort and convenience they ask for - and a little more."
As has been announced, the streamlined North Coast Limited will go on a much faster schedule beginning November 16, and we are ordering new passenger equipment, including 16 luxurious Vista-Dome cars for the North Coast Limited, which will cost nearly six million dollars. The North Coast diners will be rebuilt, eliminating the lunch counters, and numerous other refinements will be added to the train.
We are also putting in service on November 16 a second transcontinental train called The Mainstreeter, which will operate on about the same schedule as the present Northern Coast Limited and will run via Helena. The Mainstreeter will be designated Trains One and Two and the streamliner will be Trains 25 and 26.
Purchase of the new equipment and the cost of additional train operation, and promotion of the new service, represent a very sizable investment. Our Board of Directors has authorized the necessary expenditures with the assurance that we will do everything possible to make the new service pay its way.
I appeal to all Northern Pacific employees and officers to do your part in meeting that obligation and, feeling confident that all of you share my pride and satisfaction in this forward step, I know I can count on your whole-hearted support.
We are receiving the tools we've been asking for. Let's utilize them to the utmost!
-Robert S. Macfarlane, President, NP Ry. in The Tell Tale, October, 1952, p. 1

The Tell Tale || Originally published by the Safety Department
Northern Pacific Railway, Saint Paul, Minnesota || 1-24-97

IN THIS ISSUE: From the Tell Tale; Welcome Aboard; The Northern Pacific At Work: Andrew Gibson; Questions and News

Hello everyone, I'd like to thank you all for replying to my note, it's great to see the width and breadth of the group that's assembled. I have to admit I'm very pleased to see the number of individuals I don't know from NPRHA activities. I think that's a very good sign.
First, let me apologize, this little newsletter is still in a very rudimentary state and I don't have a lot of NP information to bog you down with today, though to keep everyone's attention I have included some information about NP Chief Engineer of Maintenance of Way Andrew Gibson [I think you'll like it].
Instead, I have a number of questions for you. All of the responses which addressed how often this letter should be posted [perhaps a half dozen people] indicated a preference for a weekly posting. I can keep up with such a load without too much trouble, but I know many of you are working and might like to get news at a little bit more digestible pace. For now, the next post will be sent next Friday, between then and now anyone who has a definite preference for the pace of postings please email me [again if you've already stated your preference please] we'll go with whatever majority we can assemble.
Second, until I hear a cry for some other system, or can come up with something better, I'd ask that you respond to questions either directly to the individual asking the question, or email your response to my address and I'll post it in the next issue. This should help to cut down on traffic a bit while still allowing everyone to pose questions and see the responses. About questions in general: I hate to say it but often times the best way to answer the question is to do your own research. There are many fine researchers, authors and collectors on the list, I'm sure they'll be able to point you in the right direction, but the most satisfying experience will be to run with your leads and come up with the answer through your own diligent work.
Third, if there's a clear preference for any sort of material you'd like to see covered, please let me know.
Fourth, while this newsletter is not an official publication of or sponsored by the NPRHA, please don't hesitate to ask questions about the NPRHA. I see at least three past presidents [and maybe more] and one current president [Take a bow, Jim Hill] of the NPRHA on the list, as well as Registrar Norm Snow. Remember, the pictures and plans all appear in The Mainstreeter, and you can't hang a calendar on your wall if it's in HTML.
All right, that'll do!

Began work for the NP on main line construction about eight miles west of Portland, Or. as a clerk for Mr. O. Phil, Assistant Engineer, about July 1, 1883, and continued in the same position until the party was disbanded, about the end of October. Was leveler for Colin Mcintosh, Assistant engineer on Kalama Inclines during January, 1884. Went to work as a bush hook dude with William H. Kennedy on Cascade Division Surveys on April 27th, 1884, starting at South Prairie and working east. Promoted to rodman about the beginning of June and to leveler about the middle of August, when the location of the 25 miles from South Prairie to Eagle Gorge was completed. Gibson went on to work for engineers W.T. Chalk, J.Q. Barlow, J.L. Jamieson and H.S. Huson, literally all over the Stampede Pass line. Gibson ran the level and took topography for the switch back, worked on the final location of the tunnel line, crossings of the Yakima River in the Yakima Canyon. Finally, he was made an assistant engineer himself, overseeing the lining of the tunnel as well as filling the numerous temporary trestles built in the haste to finish the line on time. It is primarily through his diligent work that detailed first hand accounts of the work are available. Gibson went on to oversee the NP's building in the Palouse, the giant west end tie plant at Paradise, MT, finally becoming the Chief Engineer in charge of maintenance of way in Saint Paul. He started out very modestly, clearing brush from what would become the Main Street of the Northwest.

Do you have any idea as to where I can get a list of NP steam locomotives that were scrapped at Superior, WI in the 1940s-50s? I own a NP steam locomotive bell from what I believe to be from a 2-6-2, 4-6-2, or 2-8-2. The people that might know of these things are fading fast. Any help you can give me will be greatly appreciated. PS- I located the bell in the Superior-area about 1978 and am trying to find out what NP loco it came off.
-Ray Bryant

I am in the process of building a large model railroad. It is my own road name (Danforth, Hadley & Northern Railroad), but it will be based on the NP. The time period is about 1949. I am interested in locating pictures of scenery and structures along the Northern Pacific. I have The Northern Pacific, Main Street of the Northwest by Charles R. Wood, The Northern Pacific Railway of McGee and Nixon by Richard Green and Northern Pacific Color Pictorial - Volume 1 by Jospeh W. Shine. These do have some good scenery pictures, but there are very few pictures of any structures, especially non-railroad ones. If anyone can suggest a source of pictures of buildings, it would help me create the correct atmosphere.
-Kenneth Chick
[You might want to check out the basic NP Bibliography on my page, the URL is below]

With all that's been happening on Stampede, little has been said about the project to add capacity to the Pasco - Spokane mainline in the neighborhood of Providence Hill. I had heard some time ago that work was in progress to connect sidings at Sand and Beatrice, and grading was being extended all the way down to Cunningham on the west end of the project. I went as far north as Providence yesterday, and the second track is in place, for the most part, between at least the top of the hill and Beatrice. It has not yet been tamped and surfaced. It appears that they are adding a second track right around the siding at Beatrice, kind of creating a center siding in effect. I couldn't do as much checking as I would've liked because the weather worsened the further north we got - very foggy and icy. They were actually working on Monday, the MLK Holiday, down at Cunningham. There was a rail train in the siding there; while we were there, the power ran around the train and dragged it back to Lind. Workers were had a form constructed and were forming rebar for a small bridge to carry the second track over a small drainage between the grade crossing at Cunningham and the current east siding of the switch. I hope to report more on the progress of this construction as soon as I can get up there again; what I saw yesterday reminds me a lot of a project BN undertook on a much more famous hill - Crawford in Nebraska.
-Tony Dell

I moved from Seattle to Billings, MT about a year and a half ago. I have found out through a person I work with that Billings use to be a hub for the NPT and that his father worked for the NPT since the early thirties. I would like to write an article about the NPT for the Mainstreeter, however I do not personally have any photos of the NPT equipment or structures. Any help in historical papers and photos from our members would be greatly appreciated. Maybe someday the company store can have a home page on the internet with the ability to e-mail the directors and members.
-Robert DuRall
[Oh I suppose we could gin up something like that!]

I actually have a great interest in MRL, but also in the history of the NP.
-Chris Frank
[We have a number of NP fans from a very long ways away, as well as Tim Harris, who runs the excellent MRL Guide Page, his URL at the bottom of this post]

My particular interests are WCRC operations and early Amtrak Empire Builder/North Coast Hiawatha consists and schedules.
-Karland Killian

Here is another news item: The BNSF has been clearing out the old NP/GN headquarters building in St. Paul. In the process, the BN-SF gave custody of several additional record books to the NPRHA. One of these contains an index to the 5000-series Authority for Expenditure [AFEs], starting in 1921. The 5000-series numbers covers all locomotive and rolling stock purchases and major changes. AFE records are the official railroad documents giving approval to expend funds. The index provides an easy way to locate a specific AFE file out of many thousands. A typical AFE file will give the date, reason, and cost for the equipment purchase or change and often contains additional, interesting information. The NPRHA already has access to the AFE files themselves. Now there is a practical way to use the files to look for information about specific engines and cars.
Re: water tanks; the last I knew, the NP tank at Drummond was still in place and being used by the town. In fact, the town was planning to repaint it in NP colors.
-Larry Schrenk
[There was a discussion on the Internet lately of standing water towers, the NP tanks we could come up with were in Cocolalla, ID [wood], Kanaskat, WA [steel], Logan, MT [wood], Roy, WA [wood], and two at Spokane, WA [steel]. There are remains of a box tank at Borup, WA, but I'm not sure if it counts as it won't hold water...]

I am looking for maps of Blewett Pass, specifically the Mt. Stuart region of Central Washington. I would prefer maps before 1873, but would love to see anything from the first scouting missions in that region. Do you know of a better source than the Washington State Archives to obtain such maps? According to a book called "Exploring Washington" the area was scouted in 1885 by Richard U. Goode and Frank Tweedy of the Lewisia Wildflower for Northern Pacific Railroad. Angus McPherson was also listed as scouting the area in 1873 or 1893, but I'm not clear if he was working for NPR or not. Any help you might be able to give would be appreciated!
-Matthew Wareham

Author: John A. Phillips, III. Title: The Tell Tale, January 24, 1997. URL: www.employees.org/~davison/nprha/ttjan2497.html.

© August 21, 2000