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Canyon Creek Timber Co. loggers making a harvest selection…tough choice as these are too beautiful to cut down!


“STUCK SANDER IN THE CEDARS” – Extra 3300 West delayed by a stuck sanding valve…the crew will be late for dinner tonight. The Skykomish Turn running back to Everett as Extra 3300 West has developed a stuck sanding valve. This extra train has the GN main blocked for now, as the fireman tries to get the valve operating and the engineer “supervises”. The flagmen have been whistled out. The crew is grumpy, nearing the end of a long day, and tempers are short. Lot’s of well-chosen language is being used, and the whole episode is captured by a passing railfan on his new color camera! Ah, railroading in the days of steam. You can almost hear the air pumps thumping…one, two….one, two. These guys are dreaming of bidding up to one of the new diesel jobs, and leaving all this home-built finicky equipment behind! The big cedar, having been spared from the saw, has seen it all.

The above captions and photos taken on his GN Cascade Division HO-scale layout, used with permission, were composed and taken by Lee Marsh, who resides in the Seattle area.

“Old Graybeard” – a DeepWoods Tree made especially for Mr. Marsh’s railroad Witnessing 1950’s Steam Railroading in the Cascades


Panting quietly with a 100-car train tied to her tank, GN R-2 2047 waits on the main while her companion pusher takes on much-needed water a mile back.

When the two crews whistle-off and the train gets underway, the exhaust from the buxom-boilered “mountain mauler” will reverberate off the surrounding mountains, and the ground beneath her will shudder deeply. The old trees along this stretch of mainline approaching Skykomish, WA from the west watch this operation with familiarity. And the engine crews, which use the gnarly broken-top tree as a landmark, have named the tree “Graybeard” in a lightly disguised reference to the Empire Builder himself, J.J. Hill. This is a vignette of steam railroading on the GN Cascade Subdivision circa 1950. —Lee Marsh

Columbia Gorge Model RR