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WHO owns the Reading Viaduct? Who controls what?

collected news here

WHO owns the Reading Viaduct?  Who controls what?

Here are selections from years of “reporting.”  Too bad there hasn’t been more investigative journalism. There’s a marked progression from genuine confusion through to stupidity, then subterfuge, to most recently willful blindness.

Who owns? Who controls? Answer here, on our website.

NYC High Line Inspires Philadelphia To Redevelop Viaduct  By Joann Loviglo /  AP  10/17/11… “Until the ownership and funding issues are hammered out, a more modest plan calls for development of a spur of the viaduct owned by the region’s transit agency, which has given permission for the project.” 

Reading Viaduct Project Gets More National Press, Design Study Now Underway To Transform Old Elevated Rail Line Into A Park In The Sky  Posted by Allison S / uwishnu October 18, 2011..  ”SEPTA has given permission for the development of a small spur of the Viaduct that it owns. As opposed to the majority of the Viaduct, which is owned by Reading International, an entertainment conglomerate that absorbed much of the holdings of the Reading Railroad when it closed. The City of Philadelphia is having ongoing talks with Reading International to obtain ownership of the rest of the Viaduct.

ROLLING OUT Philly’s elevated railway is struggling to become a High Line.  Tyler B. Silvestro  December 15, 2011…    “With permission from the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), property owner of the viaduct ‘spur,” and a grant from the William Penn Foundation and The Poor Richards Charitable Trust, CCD has hired landscape architect Bryan Hanes Associates to conduct feasibility studies and design schematics for the viaduct. Hanes told AN that he is looking at this project not as “phase one” but as a “catalyst for enthusiasm.’”

To reclaim an old railway from above and beneath By Miriam Hill, Inquirer Staff Writer February 14, 2012  “Alan Greenberger…commerce director, and Paul Levy, chief executive of the Center City District, have been negotiating with Reading International to acquire the property.”

Urban to Lead Transformation of the Reading Viaduct in Philadelphia. by Urban Engineers.  June 2012 “The study, which focused on the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA)-owned spur only, was prepared in partnership with community stakeholders and the City’s Commerce Department and Department of Parks & Recreation.”

Changing Skyline: Tempting twin visions by Inga Saffron, Inquirer Architecture Critic. November 17, 2012  ”After nine years of discussion, the city expects to…start work on the first phase of that elevated park: the short, curving spur that runs from Broad and Noble Streets to the start of the main viaduct at 11th Street….says the Center City District’s Paul Levy, who is heading the effort.”

10 Things the High Line won’t Tell You.  or previously,   N.Y.’s High Line has tips for the 606 Trail.   Ever changing titles from Market Watch-The Wall Street Journal.  September, 2013  “president of the Center City District recently said Phase 1 of the Reading Viaduct project, which would connect to the city’s convention center, won’t rival New York’s “Mercedes-Benz” version. Paul Levy says he expects the 0.6-mile Ninth Street spur (about the same length as the first phase of the High Line) to cost $7 million to $8 million, massive steel swings overlooking the city skyline included. One reason he says it is so much cheaper: no railroad ties to remove. He’s hoping money can be raised and ground broken next year.”  many inaccuracies in this messy article, commentary and corrections here 

 Saturdays Party for the viaduct-underscores progress exposes challenges by Nathaniel Popkin. September 9, 2013  ”a crown on a year of burgeoning action that began with the plan to transform a small section of the Viaduct into a green civic space, a project that will begin construction as early as next July.”

Challenges for Viaduct Project: Ownership, community and cultural implications, a large and diverse space, and civic ramifications   by Joann Greco.  March 22, 2013  “Raising the money should be achievable within the next year.”

When will construction start on Phase 1 of the rail park?  by Ashley Hahn. January 28, 2014 “One essential piece that hasn’t been finalized yet is an agreement with SEPTA to convert the Noble Street spur into a micro “rails-to-trails” project. 

What’s Modern Now? Less is More and Too Much is Never Enough. pI

MOMA 53rd Street

 

What’s Modern Now?  Less is More and Too Much is Never Enough. pI

The recent pickle over the The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)’s Tod Williams and Billie Tsien designed former Folk Art Museum facade along Manhattan’s 53rd Street leads to wonder. What’s Modern now?  It’s sad people aren’t speaking.  Sad people believe M0MA’s move to remove designed by Diller, Scofiidio + Renfro lacks vision.  Sad.

“Architecture is different from painting and sculpture,” Mr. Lowry said. “We don’t collect buildings and we don’t collect them for a reason.”

Past, Present, Possible.  Every VIADUCTgreene walking tour notes the Tod Williams and Billie Tsien designed Parkway campus of the Barnes Foundation….notes that it’s the best building in Philadelphia since the 1929 PSFS Building, cornering the grand Francis Kimball designed 1893 Reading Terminal Headhouse at 12th & Market Streets. World class.

It’s fun to put things into context.  Past, Present, Possible. Yes – on their way up into the trainshed, passenger trains slipped through the City Branch passing beneath 20th and 21st streets. Then, there was Bement Pond. Now there’s the Barnes Foundation. Yes, the same trains were seen beneath Broad Street.  Yes, Pierre Du Pont, William Glackens and his good friend Albert Barnes knew this intersection well in the 1880s and ’90′s when so much was going on.

In 1926 Paul Cret designed a nice Bozart box for Jules Mastbaum’s Rodin Museum. No one was looking back. It was different, but there was still a lot going on. World class.

After Word War II not so much was going on. As in Philadelphia, “most buildings put up in New York City since World War II are dull. Two exceptions were museums: the Gallery of Modern Art at 2 Columbus Circle, designed by Edward Durell Stone, and the American Folk Art Museum on West 53rd Street, designed by Tod Williams and Billie Tsien. The former had a light quirky charm, the latter a striking dark presence. Both were unique and stood out.  How odd that the death knell for both came from other museums that took them over.  The Museum of Arts and Design eviscerated Stone’s building, and the Museum of Modern Art has the same fate planned for that of Mr. Williams and Ms. Tsien.”

Maybe odd, but what about it? Museums are institutions; they’re businesses with an intent to be sustainable. The American Folk Art Museum location on 53rd Street didn’t work too well. Neither did the Barnes Foundation location in Merion.  Is what it is.  Move on.

While we do move on, as we always do, it sure is interesting to mull over just what it is that makes us tick. What do we want anyhow??   When the powers that move the Barnes art collection from Merion to the Parkway look to architecture, they look to Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects.    What is it they’re looking for? 

World class.

“modernist legacy of orthogonal, functional minimalism, but placed it in a wider context of earthen, material richness…a tactile Modernism where the form persists, but the experiential palette of sight and touch deliver the subtlest murmurs of geographic and cultural specificity. ’Mr. Williams and Ms. Tsien practice a kinder, gentler Modernism with an enormous sensitivity to materials and textures, and a particular affinity for crafts,’ wrote the Wall Street Journal’s Ada Louise Huxtable, Hon. AIA….Their firm’s work brings forth the ideals of Modernism, yet is moderated with a contemporary sensibility and intelligence which makes their work rich, tactile, and useful.‘”  Multicultural Modernism.

From 1920′s PSFS modern to the Barnes “new” kinder gentler, multicultural modernism. High Line = High Modern. So, we want minimalist form with earthen, tactile and visual material richness, plus an affinity for craft that delivers subtle murmurs of where we are.

When New York developer Tony Goldman arrived in Philadelphia with plans to revitalize Center City’s seedy 13th Street, almost everyone here wondered whether he was crazy…Michael Nutter, a city councilman in 1999 when Mr. Goldman sought tax incentives for his project. ”We just all kind of looked at him and thought, ‘What the hell are you talking about?’ ” In a 1999 Inquirer interview, Mr. Goldman lamented Philadelphia’s lack of an Armani store. He diagnosed the city as “aesthetically depressed.”

We want Luxe life. Experience. Economy. Beauty. Appropriateness.

Take these guys for instance.  This Luxe life?  What’s modern now?  They define it. Wild.

Karl Lagerfeld & Peter Marino in 2010. AP Photo/Francois Mori

Karl Lagerfeld & Peter Marino in 2010. AP Photo/Francois Mori

Karl Lagerfeld: “has devoted his existence to living as much as possible in the present, keeping himself attuned to trends, not just in fashion but in art, politics, movies, and music…“He said to me once, almost in a worried way, that he has to find out everything there is to know, read everything,” she says. “The curiosity is ceaseless…”Lagerfeld’s determination to stay current requires ruthlessness and a lack of sentimentality. He periodically rids himself of art, objects, and places that, previously, had been sources of inspiration and pleasure. People are not exempt. “He kind of passes on, because he doesn’t like the past,” one of the people who travels in Lagerfeld’s circle says. “So then he decides you’re the past and then he just puts you in the trash.” Lagerfeld says, “I have an entourage of people of today. Because people can work with me for a hundred years but they have to stay informed. And no regrets, no remove, not saying, ‘Oh, things were better then.’ ” According to his publishing partner, Gerhard Steidl, when Lagerfeld reads a thick paperback, he tears out the pages as he finishes them. -In the Now. Where Karl Lagerfeld. The New Yorker. John Colapinto.

Peter Marino: Georgi Armani? Designed his house and many stores. Celine, Fendi, Lancome, Zegna.  15+ stores for Dior. 20+ stores for Louis Vuitton!  30+ stores for Chanel!  Marino’s genius is to give each its own clear identity, creating stores that are cool and contemporary but also subtly envelop you in the brand’s heritage.   when Peter Marino walks into the Chanel show–and the Dior show, and the Céline show, and the Louis Vuitton show (all brands for which he has created stores)–flashbulbs will go off, people will call his name and photographs of him in the front row will go viral on the internet.

Catching up with Peter Marino here.

One thing about what’s modern now, at MoMa, it all about the garden!  So, imagine our delight, when press released what’s modern now – Diller, Scofidio + Renfro’s  plans for a new MOMA. Most exciting is Robin Pogrebin reporting in the New York Times, “the opening of its entire first floor, including the beloved sculpture garden, free to the public.”

Read Robin Pogrebin reporting in the New York Times here.   Read the esteemed Paul Goldberger’s lament about removal of the Tod Williams and Billie TsienWest designed former home of the American Folk Art Museum facade in his Vanity Fair Magazine piece here.

MoMA-superJumbo

And what of the garden?

happening_garden

“I could just walk down 53rd and use it for my club….They had jazz concerts in the garden. The garden had just been redone. That was interesting because I found it to be the most beautiful outdoor room in America. I thought, “God, this thing is really good, you know”.   And it was, the Bob Zion redo [of the garden] that was finished in about 1963-64, was a very good project.   Philip Johnson had done the second addition to the museum, the black steel piece with the upper raised terrace where the George Rickey sculpture was.  I just loved that garden.  I really looked at it and later I wrote an article about the rise and fall of a Modern landscape.  About how it’s been ruined and it ain’t what it was.  But it was Mies van der Rohe’s best unbuilt project.  You know, there’s the things you think of that you don’t get to do and somebody else does. [Philip] Johnson built a homage to Mies there that really goes back to all of his urban houses from the 20’s and 30’s and to a series of his writings and projects. And if you don’t know the articles, it’s a good article. I published in JDH’s journal a few years back. So anyway, I kind of memorized that garden and I memorized Central Park.  -Philadelphia’s Laurie Olin

Wow. World class.

Yoshio Taniguchi’s 2004 MoMA design ‘reintroduced’  “The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden as the heart of the Museum by preserving Philip Johnson’s original 1953 design.”   Spectacular.”  In 2014, Diller Scofidio+Renfro’s design opens MoMA’s entire first floor, including the beloved sculpture garden, free to the public!

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What of gardens today? What’s Present? What’s world class?  Happily and necessarily, direction today is toward more “ecological.” More planterly.  More wild. More more. Mies said “less is more,” and Morris Lapidus said “too much is never enough.” It all meets in the garden. VIADUCTgreene creates a garden of intersecting culture and wildness.

Best exemlfying the “less is more and too much is never enough“ in gardens today is Piet Oudolf.  Try as we have, we can’t find any pics of Piet Oudolf looking anywhere near as badass as the perennially uniformed Karl Lagerfeld and Peter Marino. No matter where they go, gardeners get their hands dirty…

From Uomo Vogue. Piet Oudolf. Roberto Baldassarre.

From Uomo Vogue. Piet Oudolf. Roberto Baldassarre.

 

“Minimalist form with earthen, tactile and visual material richness, plus an affinity for craft that delivers subtle murmurs of where we are.”  Sounds like a great garden to me. Todays “New World” plantastic’ gardens look their finest when powerful modernist tendencies organize their space…

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The proof of the pudding is in the eating. When Chanel gardens a poetic evocation of N°5, it does through the design of Piet Oudolf. More about here.

Like KL and PM above, Piet’s modernism represents a variety of brands. Private gardens around the world, public places like the High Line with James Corner Field Operationsand Millennium Park with Kathryn Gustafson.

Looking ahead is likely Luxe.    From the luxe haute rusty rails of the High Line, Oudolf seems to be wheeling along the world’s ribbons of steel. Powerhouse contemporary art and modern masters gallery Hauser and Wirth contrasts their spaces on Peter Marino’s Bond Street and Zurich’s former Löwenbräu brewery building with a new gallery and arts centre at a derelict farm on the outskirts of BrutonSomerset.   Hauser & Wirth Somerset opens to the public in 2014, a stone’s throw from engineering genius of VictorianEngland – Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s c.1850′s fabled Great Western main line, route of the Cornish Riviera Express.  All aboard for Bruton!

Hauser-Wirth-Somerset-Artists-impression-Aerial-View

The Hauser & Wirth Garden at Durslade Farm is planted.  ”Somerset does not have any significant contemporary art galleries, there’s a great arts scene in Bath and Bristol but they are a good hour away.”  The gallery and arts centre is built on what was originally a “model farm” dating back to 1760.  There is a cowshed, a piggery, stables, barns, a farmhouse and land… It could become something of a country retreat for Hauser & Wirth’s artists and the farm has already been visited by names such as Pipilotti Rist, Roni Horn, Phyllida Barlow and Paul McCarthy.

The place resonates with Past, Present PossibleIn 1776, it was sold to the Hoare family who also owned nearby Stourhead!  Great garden roots amass deeply, thickly. 

I think KL, PM and Piet too, must be pleased. Back in the golden age of steam, chocolate-and-cream liveried carriages hauled by 79-ton King Class and Castle Class locomotives painted a deep, rich Brunswick green set the stage at rural Bruton. Luxe…

Cornish Riviera Express.

Cornish Riviera Express.

 

A bit further afield, Piet may be planting along the the steel rail of Thomas the Tank Engine!

A year ago it was reported that “Richmond Square Design has submitted the plans to the Isle of Man Government on behalf of billionaire businessman and philanthropist Mark Shuttleworth, who was the first South African in space.”

Mr. Shuttleworth proposes to have the nature park on land he owns in Ballavale, Santon. It would include wetlands, a glen, an orchard, a Japanese garden, as well as wildlife. He also hopes to build a sensory garden in collaboration with a number of charities including the Manx Blind Welfare Society and Rebecca House children’s hospice.  Also outlined in the plans is an amphitheater to be used as an outdoor stage for theatrical performances and educational presentations.  In the design statement it says the intention of the project is to create an estate that will contribute to the Island’s heritage and be a botanical garden of global standing.

Collaborators on the project, at Mallards Estate, Santon, include landscape architect Gross Max and Japanese garden designer Shunmyo Masuno.  Shuttleworth is also in discussions with natural swimming pool expert Peter Petrich and plans to consult perennial landscape specialist Piet Oudolf.

For a great distance, the property adjoins the Isle of Man Railway at Santon Station.  Sodor is a fictional island which is supposed to be located in England in the Irish Sea between Cumbria and the Isle of Man that is used as the setting for The Railway Series books by the Rev. W. Awdry, and later used in the Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends television series.  Inspiration came on a visit to the Diocese of Sodor and Man in 1950. Awdry noted that while there was an Isle of Man, there was no similar Island of Sodor. A large island would meet the criteria he required, giving him the isolation from changes to the British railway system while giving him somewhere that people could believe in.

Victorian Franchise

Victorian Franchise

 

We want Luxe life. Experience. Economy. Beauty. Appropriateness. Fantasy. 

As always, possibilities intrigue.  Like Hauser and Wirth, one can suspect that a man who’s looked at the epic view of Earth from Space sees certain order in seeming chaos, much the same as so many seed heads, blades, spikelets and awns are ordered in a winter meadow.

What Piet Oudolf calls the ugly, the dead. “…the journey…discover beauty in things that on first site are not beautiful.”   It is a New World Garden!

It’s a pleasure to share a short, very beautiful, glimpse of PIET OUDOLF: FALL, WINTER, SPRING, SUMMER, FALL,  A Feature-Length Documentary, now in production by the Checkerboard Film Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation you can make a contribution to at Checkerboard Film Foundation. 1 East 53rd St, 14th Floor. New York, NY 10022.

Click below for the teaser. Listen carefully. See Beauty in the Unexpected:

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“I think there is beauty in everything. What ‘normal’ people would perceive as ugly, I can usually see something of beauty in it.” — Alexander McQueen

 

 

Jeff the Koons, 2009 Aluminium, painted

Jeff the Koons, 2009
Aluminum, Photographed by Norman Jean Roy

wan and Manuela Wirth with Thomas Houseago’s Hermaphrodite, 2011. Photographed by Norman Jean Roy

wan and Manuela Wirth with Thomas Houseago’s Hermaphrodite, 2011. Photographed by Norman Jean Roy

 

Reading Terminal at 121 years.

New_Terminal_Depot_at_Philadelphia_LOC_01533v-2

The Railway World. February 1893.

It was on 1.29.1893. “The Reading Railroad Company’s new station at Twelfth and Market streets was opened to the public and the first train out of the depot started at 4 o’clock on Sunday morning for Harrisburg, Pottsville, and Shamokin. Several hundred people were on the train and as many more were in the station and cheered as the engine drew out Superintendent Brown who has charge of the new station ran the engine as far as Girard Avenue and then relinquished the lever to engineer Michael Welsh who with his fireman William Orth ran the train through to its destination. The train was in charge of conductor Fulton Jones baggage master Daniel J Hines and brakeman Francis P Condon. The first train to enter the station was No 126, the Reading accommodation, due at 7:50 from Reading. The crew consisted of conductor Howard Richards, fireman Frank Genser baggage master Michael Gillen, and brakemen Horace Baus and George W Snyder, and engineer Patrick Cassidy. A large crowd was gathered to welcome it. In the station was a large floral horseshoe sent by an admirer of the road. During the day hundreds of excursionists came in from the country to have a look at the new station. In the afternoon President McLeod paid a visit and expressed himself pleased with all the arrangements.”

At 125 years more people will know this date, remembering mad men and their big ideas.

Great. Call of the Mountains p.I

most recent news here

This was originally published on the VIADUCTgreene blog August 4, 2013

Call of the Mountains. 1927 Great Northern travel brichure

GN 'mallet.' at along Pennsylvania Avenue at 20th Street

GN ‘mallet.’ at along Pennsylvania Avenue at 20th Street. VIADUCTgreene

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With the experience and wisdom of over fifty years, our P&R at it’s most handsome and powerful pulled off the opening its grand Reading Terminal at 12th & Market Streets in Philadelphia on Jan. 29 1893.

“The Reading Railroad Company’s new station at Twelfth and Market streets was opened to the public and the first train out of the depot started at 4 o’clock on Sunday morning for Harrisburg, Pottsville, and Shamokin. Several hundred people were on the train and as many more were in the station and cheered as the engine drew out Superintendent Brown who has charge of the new station ran the engine as far as Girard avenue and then relinquished the lever to engineer Michael Welsh who with his fireman William Orth ran the train through to its destination The train was in charge of conductor Fulton Jones baggage master Daniel J Hines and brakeman Francis P Condon.  The first train to enter the station was No 126, the Reading accommodation, due at 7:50 from Reading. The crew consisted of conductor Howard Richards, fireman Frank Genser baggage master Michael Gillen, and brakemen Horace Baus and George W Snyder, and engineer Patrick Cassidy.  A large crowd was gathered to welcome it.  In the station was a large floral horseshoe sent by an admirer of the road.  During the day hundreds of excursionists came in from the country to have a look at the new station.  In the afternoon President McLeod paid a visit and expressed himself pleased with all the arrangements.  He took a run over the road in the combination car Ariel in which ex-president Franklin B. Gowen used to make trips to and from Pottsville during the trials of the Mollie Maguires many years ago. Conrad Bower, who has been an engineer on the road since 1854, ran the Ariel.

Only weeks before, on Jan 3, the Empire Builder-James J. Hill’s transcontinental Great Northern Railway hammered in it’s golden spike in Madison, Washington.  ”What we want is the best possible line, shortest distance, lowest grades, and least curvature we can build. We do not care enough for Rocky Mountains scenery to spend a large sum of money developing it.”  ”The Great Northern was the first transcontinental built without public money and just a few land grants, and was one of the few transcontinental railroads not to go bankrupt.”

By 1904 the GN cared some about Rocky Mountain scenery and changed the name of ‘Madison’ to ‘Scenic’ and the Scenic Hot Springs Hotel, 200′ from the GN mainline, was a wonder.  At a place called Tye (formally called Wellington) the GN conquered the Cascades with the construction of the 2.63 miles long Cascade Tunnel in 1900.  Before that, trains navigated swithbacks over the summit.

“Tye stands at the west portal of Cascade Tunnel and is perched high up on the north wall of Tye River Canyon; here the Great Northern begins the descent of the Cascade’s west slope, the track following a shelf along the canyon’s wall. The doll’s house that’s glimpsed from this high track down in the canyon is the big hotel at Scenic Hot Springs. The shoulder of Windy Point is tunneled.  A bit further on the track bridges the chasm of Martin’s Creek and runs through the Martin’s Creek Tunnel- both of  whose portals are east portals and which describes a complete down hill horseshoe in the mountain.  At Scenic the railway horseshoes into the west again, a descent of 1,007 feet in nine miles of track-at that delightful mountain resort in the Snoqualmie National Forest, Scenic Hot Springs.”

looking at Scenic from the west side of Cascade Tunnel

martin_creek3-1

“Most men who have really lived have had, in some shape, their great adventure. This railway is mine.” -James Hill

Great adventurous railroading for sure.  Enter Philadelphian Samuel M. Vauclain. Baldwin Locomotive Works. Broad Street at Spring Garden. Philadelphia, Pa.  Empire Builder meets locomotive builder.

COREA_SCENIC_1908_Blog“In 1906 we went after Jim Hill’s Mallet business, I proposed selling him five monster Mallets. Each was to be  carried on six pairs of driving wheels, three fronty and three back, with a two wheeled truck on front and rear.  Each engine was to weigh about 350,000 pounds. A 175-ton locomotive was something to talk about.

“When I spoke of five Mallets to the Great Northern genius he hedged. “

‘I might try one out,’ he dryly said. “

“We can’t sell you just one big Mallet,’ I demurred. ‘If we sold you one it would be passed from one division master mechanic to another, each one glad to get rid of it. You know the average railroader will shy at novelties. You should buy five Mallets for service on the Cascades Mountains at Skykomish where the grade is 2.2  and short curves are combined with tunnels and plenty of snowsheds.’

” ‘What if I find them of no use to me?” he asked bluntly.

” ‘You can send them right back to us ,’ I promised.

” ‘All right, he answered. ‘Build five for me. We’ll try them.’

“We filled the order. The Mallets were so satisfactory that we made many more  for the Jim Hill system” -  Samuel Vauclain. Steaming Up!

First of their kind, Baldwin’s Broad & Spring Garden plant couldn’t handle building locomotives this BIG. The move was on to Eddystone. Below: 1906. factory-fresh GN Mallets at Belmont Junction, on the west bank of the Schuylkill, ready to go west to the Cascades.

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The monster Baldwins proved “satisfactory” but railroading in the Cascades was all the more adventurous. Laboring eastward the monster Baldwins would “produce voluminous amounts of smoke, gas, and heat, creating serious ventilation problems. Temperatures in engin cabs often reached two hundred degrees Fahrenheit, leading some crew members to bury themselves in the coal pile to escape the heat. Smoke accumulations sometimes became so intense that even the tunnel’s emergency telephones would cease to operate.” People died from crew members of broken down trains, to hobos.  GN electrified tunnel operations in July 1909, though “the tunnel was thus still caked with a soft, slimy layer of soot three or four inches thick.

GN was caring a lot about Rocky Mountain scenery and developing it when it promoted legislation that established Glacier National Park in May, 1910. James J. Hill had not only built a railroad. He created an empire of towns and ranches along the tracks from St. Paul, Minnesota, to Seattle, Washington. This route today is still called the Empire Builder.  ”With the help from his son, Louis, JJ’s vision was to make the area the ‘Playground of the Northwest.’  The Hills invested a substantial amount of money in the area. A chain of hotels, chalets, boats, roads, and trails were designed and built to attract tourists. The railroad tapped into the market of wealthy Americans who generally took lengthy trips to Europe and lured them to Glacier with the slogan ‘See America First.’ Of course, to get to the parks they would ride the railroad. The railroad was the major concessionaire and developer of visitor facilities in Glacier from 1910 until after World War II.”

Only weeks before, on March 1, 1910, just after 1 a.m., “as a result of a lightning strike, a slab of snow broke loose from the side of Windy Mountain during a violent thunderstorm. A ten-foot high mass of snow, half a mile long and a quarter of a mile wide, fell toward the town” of Wellington and slammed into two trains, a passenger train and a mail train, both bound from Spokane to Seattle that had been trapped at the depot for six days. Most of the passengers and crew were asleep aboard their trains. The impact threw the trains 150 feet downhill and into the Tye River valley. Ninety-six people were killed, including 35 passengers, 58 Great Northern employees on the trains, and three railroad employees in the depot. Twenty-three passengers survived; they were pulled from the wreckage by railroad employees who immediately rushed from the hotel and other buildings where they had been staying.  After the avalanche GN changed ‘Wellington” to ‘Tye” – then the mountains will get you.

“The call of the mountains is a real call. The veneer, after all, is so thin. Throw off the impedimenta of civilization, the telephones, the silly conventions, the lies that pass for truth. Go out to the West. Ride slowly, not to startle the wild things. Throw out your chest and breathe; look across green valleys to wild peaks where mountain sheep stand impassive on the edge of space. Let the summer rains fall on your upturned face and wash away the memory of all that is false and petty and cruel. Then the mountains will get you.”

then the mountains will get you

then the mountains will get you