Route 1, Mead, Washington 99021
At St. Louis, Missouri, we had a ride on the train at the zoo (gas). We asked the conductor if our G.N. passes were good. He said not on Wednesday. We went down town and saw the Big Arch, down to the river and the big boats. Between St. Louis and Mt. Pleasant we passed by 6 engines along the freeway. I left the freeway and went back to look at them. They were owned by a Mr. Robert Snow of Palmyra, Missouri, I think. He wasn't home, but a fellow was building a shed for the engines. He has an Advance-Rumely no. 15179, a Baker no. 1510, 2 strap butt Advances, a Case portable no. 14809 and a N & S 25-90 double.
In Kentucky we stopped to see men skidding logs (hardwood) with horses. I went to the sawmill and got some pictures. They pile the lumber over high wooden horses crosswise to dry it. It sure looked funny but I got a picture to prove it.
On our way back we stopped at Dollar City south of Springfield, Missouri, and took a ride on their steam train. We got held up by bandits. One of the bandits wanted to take my wife, but didn't (such luck).
At Kinsley, Kansas, they have a large Santa Fe engine in a park and on a large sign it read, '1,561 miles to New York, also San Francisco'. It's the center of the U.S. At Greenburg, Kansas, the largest hand-dug well is located there. It is 32 feet across and 109 feet deep, built in 1888. You can go down in it for $.25.
At Paducah, Kentucky, my friend said that Paducah lies on the Tennessee & Ohio Rivers between the towns of Possom Trot and Monkey's Eyebrow.
On our way through Texas, we were opposite Amarillo on Highway 54 and could see a big black storm on our left. We were going southwest and the storm was going northeast. The radio told all about the tornado they were having. That's how close we were.
We stopped at the 4 corners where 4 states meet at right angles. You can drive through 4 states in 10 seconds. We held hands; I stood in Colorado and Utah and Boo in Arizona and New Mexico and had our pictures taken; only place in the U.S.
One other thing I forgot. We went to Peoria, Oklahoma where I was born 66 years ago on May 1, 1901. It was hard to find. It had one street, a dirt road in the northeast corner of the state. About 100 people live there, but it claims one thing beside me. It is the oldest Incorporated city in Oklahoma.
Then we went on a trip on the narrow gauge of the D.R.G.W.
This unit was in use the past summer but I hear the transmission on the Buick was in bad shape and parts hard to get. The Buick unit is a six cylinder job, believe 1929 was last six built by Buick. Do not know what the outcome will be. Above information came direct from Huber Corporation, Marion, Ohio.
We got to Durango, Colorado, about 2 P.M. on May 31. We went right to the D.R.G.W. depot to get our tickets for the ride on June 1. We showed him our G.N. passes and he gave us fare or the same as children pay, $4.50. Adults fare is $6.50. Having time to kill, we went to the P.O. and mailed letters. Then we went across the river to the Jay cee campground and stayed for the night. We put our bus in the D.R.G.W. parking lot (50 cents) at 7:30 A.M. We got on the no. 7 coach, seats 13 and 15. The engine wasn't on yet so I looked the train over.
After the engine was on and they set up the air brakes, I walked the first 4 cars to check the setup. I sure had 3 officials worried for a while. They thought I was an ICC inspector. But I didn't work on the G.N. for 45 years for fun.
We got going at 8:30 A.M. and boy, what a ride. We went 45/4 miles to Silverton in 4 hours. Some of the time you could run faster than it went. We climbed 2,897 feet up from Durango to Silverton. The engine used 6 tons of coal but only a little coming back. When we got to Silverton, all the town turned out to see us. We went out on the main street in time to see 2 fellows get shot and killed over a woman. It was a real good show and is put on every day till the end of the season. The dance hall girls were there in their beautiful costumes. They handed out cards showing you where to get a good meal and see their show.
We left at 2:00 P.M., backed out on a Y and headed south. This train runs through a gorge and if a person is nervous, you better take some blinders along. The scenery is out of this world. I heard that if the D.R.G.W. ever quit this run, the Government would take it over and run it.
I asked the engineer, Bob Shock who has 44 years on the road if he was worried when we got to the place where it is the steepest and slowed down and he said that if a sparrow had lit on the back coach, we wouldn't have made it. The conductor who has 26 years, H. W. Blackstone, was on the P. A. (loud speaker) all day and told you where things were and where to look for them. We rode in car 332 and everybody had to use the same seat going back. They had 9 coaches and 2 private cars that day and they have a newsie and he sells everything from books to drinks and nuts. There were 445 paid passengers on the train and 90 people were from Texas. Everyone was friendly and was having a good time. If 1 get down that way again, I will take the ride again, it's that interesting.
Christy Gauger of Stratton, Nebraska; Art Pump of Grant, Nebraska and Bill Ward of Palisade, Nebraska had their turn at the proud Rumely which done her stuff. Albert Derk of Beatrice, Nebraska was the separator man. We had a nice crowd.
Here is a little dope on the train. The engines (they have only three left) are no. 473, no. 476 and no. 478. The last one took us. They are K-28 class outside frame. 2-8 2. They can pull 12 coaches between Durango and Silverton. The gauge is 36'. The cylinders are 18' diameter with 22' stroke. Driver wheels are 44'. Boiler carries 200 lbs. The tubes are 106 - 2', 22 - 5' and are 16 feet long. The engine and tender are 53 feet feet 6' long. They carry 5000 gallons of water and 8 tons of coal. Weight on the rails when loaded is 127 tons. The coaches carry 48 passengers and are of the 1878 to 1885 era but were rebuilt as late as 1963.
The train had quite the freight business in 1952 and runs only in the summer time as a passenger train. It is tied up the other months of the year and the help works on the other parts of the D.R.G.W. system.
If any of you old timers get down that way, take a ride on this train. You will never regret it.
On our way through South Idaho, we stopped at Buhl to see my friend, James Deathrage and he not only has two engines, a Case and a N & S, 4 separators and old cars. He also has a swell wife and cook, 2 beautiful daughters and 3 fine sons.
Jim took me over to see Ed Vogels collection and did I have a surprise there. Ed has a fine museum; a 16-48 Russell, 2 Al. Taylors, 1 Advance, 1 Geiser Peerless, a N.S. on rubber, a Garr Scott 20 HP, 1 stage coach, 2 old wagons, 1 civil war cannon.
We came home through Pendleton and stopped to see Harry Fisher and the Mrs., then Walla Walla and home. 6,942 miles; we got 23 miles to a gallon of gas. We didn't even have a flat tire. If I told you what we did the rest of the 37 days you would be amazed.