In All the West


 Inland Empire Electric Line

 Inland Empire Electric Line
Spokane to Coeur d'Alene and the Palouse

248 pages, 8.5"x 11"

ISBN 978-09723356-8-3
Hardcover   $39.95

Description
Preface
Author
Contents

Excerpt


Description:

The book details the history of the Spokane & Inland Empire Railroad rail system, from its amalgamation of a group of companies in the early 1900s to almost complete abandonment by Burlington Northern seventy years later. Rolling stock, infrastructure, operations, financial performance and competition with rival railroads are all discussed. 308 illustrations including 27 maps/diagrams and full data tabulation are provided to complete this long needed history of a most interesting railroad.


Preface:

The interurban electric railway industry was a phenomenon that started in the late 1890s and within twenty years had built hundreds of railway lines, most of which have been described in a variety of publications. The lines to the east and south out of Spokane, known as the Inland Empire System, have been an exception until now. Here, then, is the story of this industry as it came into existence, served the Spokane area for many years, and then disappeared from the scene. The author chronicles the trials that occurred during the planning, the struggles for financing, and the various political jostling, and all are explored in  detail. Rapid changes occurred in leadership and with each turnover in management the new personnel were situated further away from Spokane. Eventually ownership resided with the Great Northern  Railway.The two lines that comprised the railway were constructed with incompatible power supply and distribution systems to the railway cars: both represented the current technology at the time of construction even though they were built less than a decade apart.The alternating current lines to the Palouse were the leading-edge technology of the day. This aspect of the system is covered along with the rolling stock used on both lines. The equipment used for the Palouse line was conceived as being usable on both the high voltage AC lines and the low voltage line to Coeur d'Alene, but proved impractical and necessitated a set of dedicatedequipment for each power system. The line to the south also proved to be a financial albatross to the profitable Coeur d'Alene line due to the huge capital costs involved in the construction of the line. This resulted in some financial separations and recombination of the two lines. The system, however, developed into a very significant freight feeder to the Great Northern Railway and that company felt that it could not afford to lose the traffic that it generated. As a result the company bought out the stock and bondholders. This resulted in all this trolley equipment being proudly labeled for the parent company with small letters identifying the operating company. Despite its turbulent career and financial precariousness, the Inland Empire System served the area well for many years and outlasted all the other electric interurban lines in the State of Washington.

Robert R. Lowry
November 2005

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Author:


Clive Carter

Clive Carter was born in York, England, a major railroad center, and now the home of the National Railway Museum. With a father employed by the railway, it is not surprising that he became a railroad enthusiast at an early age. He immigrated to the USA in 1966 to work for the Boeing Company in Renton WA. He spent the next thirty years there, becoming a manager in the Engineering Department. Mr. Carter has authored two railway books in the U.K. and a number of magazine articles. His major interests are companies that served the Pacific Northwest. His wife Ann is a physician and they make their home in Bellevue WA and Dunoon, Scotland.

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Contents:

Dedication ...........................................................III
Preface ..................................................................IV
Acknowledgments ................................................V
Acronyms Used ..................................................VII
List of Figures .................................................VIII
Chapter 1 Introduction ..........................................1
Chapter 2 Company Growth and Finances ..........5
Chapter 3 Construction .......................................19
Chapter 4 Electric Power Systems .....................39
Chapter 5 Buildings, Bridges and Roadway ........51
Chapter 6 Rolling Stock .....................................71
Chapter 7 Train Services ....................................99
Chapter 8 Competition and Collaboration .....121
Chapter 9 Traffic ...............................................135
Chapter 10 Collisions .......................................153
Chapter 11 System-wide Tour ........................159
Chapter 12 Abandonment ...............................201
Appendices A, B, C and D ...........................212
Index ..................................................................226

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Excerpt:

Chapter 10, Collisions

 

The first incident reported on the Cd'A&S was at Spokane Bridge, December 15, 1904. The 4:00 p.m. passenger train from Spokane ran into a motor baggage car, standing on the siding, through an open switch. Luckily, train speed was low. Flying glass cut both motormen, but no passengers were injured. Accidents that warranted autonomous investigation are summarized below in chronological order. By far the most destructive occurred at Gibbs in 1909, where two passenger trains collided.

Freeman, Washington
A wreck occurred on the Spokane & Inland Railway at Freeman at 5:10 a.m. on September 15, 1907, in which the engineer O.W. Frost was crushed to death. Extras M2 and M5, both second class trains, were going towards Spokane. Each crew knew the other was being operated. Train M2 stopped at Freeman, ostensibly for switching and picking up cars. A man was left to protect the train and was about 600 feet behind when M5 came in sight. It was flagged, but not acknowledged by the crew. Brakes were not applied as the train passed the flagman and it continued to run at about 25 mph until train M2 was struck. When trainmen ran to electric locomotive M5, the engineer was found sitting in his cab seat crushed to death, his current turned fully on and air brakes not applied.

Washington State Transportation Division concluded that the motorman had become unconscious for some undetermined reason (no autopsy was mentioned). Company rules required that all trains of this class approach stations under control and responsibility for rear-end collisions was with the following train. Under the rules, train M2 need not have flagged, it being between switches on straight track and at a station. Collision could possibly have been avoided had two men been at the front of locomotive M5, or had the flagman put down torpedoes, thus alerting the head brakeman sitting in the locomotive's rear. The S&I general manager said that in future two men would be required for locomotives.

Gibbs, Idaho
No investigative report of this collision was issued by a state or government agency. Details given herein were therefore drawn from contemporary newspaper reports. During July and August, 1909, the US government held a pubfc lottery for the disposition of Indian Reservation land in three northwest states. Potential homesteaders had to register for the lottery in each state. Two of the registration sites were Coeur d'Alene and Spokane. Thousands of people came from all parts of the country despite long odds of winning. During the first two weeks of the 21-day registration period, the S&IE had found it almost impossible to carry the crowds between Spokane and Coeur d'Alene, despite extra service with trains departing every 20 minutes.

On July 31, 1909, two crowded trains collided at Gibbs station about 11/2 miles from Coeur d'Alene. Special No.5, westbound, and regular No. 20, eastbound, met head-on on a single line track. Seventeen people died and over one hundred were injured. Each train consisted of three cars. The eastbound train No. 20, of recent manufacture, was headed by motor, baggage and passenger car No. 8. The westbound special No. 5 was of lighter construction and consisted of motor baggage and passenger car No. 5, trailer No. 50 and a partner trailer. The motorman of the eastbound stopped his train when he saw special No. 5 approaching around a curve. The westbound collided at a speed of about 25 mph. Its leading motor car was telescoped, only twelve feet of the body remaining above the floor, the heavier motor car riding over the lighter vehicle. Contemporary newspapers presented graphic reports of the resulting carnage to passengers crammed in the small combination car. Workers from nearby Stack-Gibbs lumber mill rushed to help the injured. Medical staff were dispatched from Coeur d'Alene Hospital while physicians and nurses arrived from Spokane within an hour by special train. Incapacitated victims were moved to the local hospital while mobile casualties traveled to St. Luke's and Sacred Heart hospitals in Spokane for treatment.

Jay Graves, president of the S&IE, authorized an official statement the following day. In part, he said, "The company will make a full, thorough and complete investigation, fixing the blame where it belongs without fear or favor and will make the result of the investigation public. The accident is of such an appalling nature that the public is entitled to be fully informed concerning its cause. As to the injured persons and the relatives of those who lost their lives in the wreck, the company wants them to understand that it will act fairly and justly with them and that it is unnecessary to hire a lawyer to enforce their claims….We want to be fair and deal justly with everyone and we hope all will come to us in the same spirit."

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Museum of North Idaho | P.O. Box 812, Coeur d'Alene, ID  83816-0812 | 208-664-33448 | museum@museumni.org