After a great push starting in mid March, the railroad became operational in early July. Two local operators, Lance Lassen and Blair Kooistra, and a guest from Australia, John Gillies, attended the first operating session on July 5th.
With only Spokane/East staging, Forebay and the PFI mill operational, the theme for the session was that line from Riparia to Lewiston was out of service account the Army Corps of Engineers doing dam construction on the Snake River, requiring all traffic into Lewiston to arrive on NP train 662 "the Highball".
The session consisted of train NP 661, delivering all of the traffic, both UP and NP to the yard at Forebay (a contraction of Potlatch Forest Mill Bay) and the switch job switching out the cars at the PFI mill, then delivering the out bound UP and NP traffic to Forebay for NP 662 to take to Spokane.
|For the first session, I created a hand drawn "TIBS" map of the mill and Forebay. TIBS stands for Train and Industry Blocking System. Its a alpha-numeric system similar to the real Burlington Northern's SPINS system from the 1970's. Dan Holbrook wrote an article that appeared in the July 1987 issue of Model Railroader magazine that outlined its use. A complete TIBS book of the Lewiston Terminal area drawn using a computed graphics program is in the works.|
|SW7, NP 114, was utilized for the mill switcher. The cab on the 114 had a mishap and the Lewiston shops put on a replacement. Unfortunately, the shops didn't have sufficient time to get the cab painted before pressing the venerable switcher back into service. More on the replacement cab in a future post!|
|The switch crew is done pulling the cars from the mill and is taking them to Forebay for the outbound Highball, train NP 662.|
|Engineer Lance Lassen switching the inbound 661 train at the east end of Forebay. Without a Lewiston yard switcher available, the road crew was pushed into switching service, blocking some of the inbound and outbound traffic. A time slip for performing switching service was undoubtedly filed upon the crew's return to Spokane!|
The session took about about two-and-a-half real hours, and there was still cars to spot to the mill at the conclusion. My plan was for the mill job to be a real three to four hour job for a two person crew, which appears to be right on target. Seeing the railroad finally operate was a rewarding experience and I'm looking forward to more sessions in the near future. I suddenly need a lot more freight cars!
Special thanks to my dad Perry, brother Jon, John Bauer, Dave Lehlbach and Lance Lassen, for helping me get it running!
Lastly, a very special thank you to my wife Lisa, who has put up with my desire for an operating railroad model over the past 17 years, in one form or another.