Dedicated to Sharing the Heritage of Redwood Empire Railroading
My brother as well as my father worked for NWP and we recently had a discussion about his time with NWP. He was Maintenance of Way in the Electrical Department. He did some work on crossings, but the majority of the time he worked on phone and teletype lines.
He said that he was at Fort Seward during most of 1958 and 1959 and worked as far South as Bell Springs.
I asked him about the Island Mountain Tunnel, but most of what he talked about was the trestle on the South side going into the tunnel.
Apart from the trestle, there were towers on each side and a cable was strung between the two towers. It was his job to ride a basket out over the river and repair the phone lines or teletype lines or crossbars. He said it was very much a thrill ride because it was very high up, the wind whipped through the canyon tossing the basket about, and in the winter months the river was raging below.
He told a story about a crew from Bell Springs that used to fish with dynamite from the river bank or sometimes from the trestle. He said that one time they outsmarted themselves and threw the dynamite upstream and it exploded directly underneath of them and created a mini sunami that washed them into the river. He said that they were rescued but they nearly drowned.
He said that it was not uncommon for trees to fall across the tracks and they had to be removed with dynamite, but that one Engineer just high balled it through the tree and took out a few miles of phone poles in the process. He said they temporarily strung wire along the ground and over the course of several months strung new wire on new poles.
Another incident was a train that hit a huge boulder and pushed it down the tracks, but it cut the ties in half as it went and eventually the train derailed before it stopped. They had to bring in cranes to remove the boulder and it turned out to be a major project