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BN Trains on the Great Northern line in Washington Picture Gallery

BN train on the Great Northern line in Washington

In 1911, GN ordered telephone dispatching equipment for Everett, WA to Leavenworth. This was the last mainline segment between Minneapolis and Seattle to be converted from telegraph to telephone dispatching. In 1913 GN began installing automatic block semaphore signals from Scenic to Tye, Everett to Skykomish and Everett to Bellingham. In 1919, the railroad added automatic block signals to 23 miles of single track between Wenatchee and Leavenworth, and completed 53 miles of signals on single track between Skykomish and Everett, WA. In 1921, it added 100 semaphore signals and 11 color light signals in the 58 miles between Leavenworth to Skykomish. In 1923, it added 308 color light signals on 145 miles of single track and 22 miles of double track between Fort Wright and Wenatchee. The Chumstick Canyon relocation of GN's Stevens Pass line was completed in 1928.

Probably the biggest change to operation came in 1929 with the opening of the 7.8 mile Cascade Tunnel. The railroad electrified the line between Skykomish and Wenatchee. It also replaced all the semaphore signals between Wenatchee and Skykomish with GRS color light signals. Electric operations were abandoned in 1956. Now purging the Cascade Tunnel of diesel fumes in the biggest bottle neck on this portion of the railroad.

The Great Northern installed its first CTC in 1954 between Delano, MN to Willmar. Around 1955 GN moved the Wenatchee to Spokane dispatchers from Spokane to Seattle. CTC was added from Seattle to Merritt (42 miles west of Wenatchee) in 1964. The following year CTC was extended from Merritt to Columbia River (15 miles east of Wenatchee) and then to Ephrata in 1966. By the end of 1969, the GN had over 1,300 miles of CTC. After the BN merger, CTC was extended from Ephrata to Adrian in 1970 and to Lamona in 1975. The last segment of single track from Bluestem to Latah was converted to CTC in 1984.

For this series we begin at the engine terminal at Interbay Yard in Seattle. We will follow the former Great Northern trackage east working our way over the Cascade Range through the Cascade Tunnel and end at Harrington, WA about 50 miles west of Spokane.

All pictures in this series are on disks 6 and 7. You can purchase a disk and printout any of the pictures for your own use to dress up your train room or add color to a house that just cries out for more train pictures.

Interbay Yard
Gold Bar
Foss River Bridge
Cascade Tunnel
Chumstick Valley