TacomaRail in Olympia

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auburnrails

New Member
Hello all,

I'm modeling the Mottman spur from downtown Olympia, and am planning a quick trip down that way in a few weeks to get some shots. Is the local still running out the branch on Thursdays? Does anyone know what time roughly that they might be heading out?

The things I want to check out on this visit are:

1. Typical train length (likely 2-4 cars I'm guessing)
2. How the customers are switched, if possible
3. Get photos of some of the structures from the side to complement GoogleEarth from the top
4. See the topography better, as it looks pretty darn flat from Mutual Materials to Belmore

Anything else I might want to check out? I'm modeling from Belmore to the tunnel entrance under Olympia, but I might extend that somehow to downtown Olympia and/or the BNSF/UP main. Is there anything worth seeing on that stretch, and is it even possible to pace the train, so to speak?

Thanks for the info! I've got my track laid and the have spurs for Mutual Materials, Columbia Beverage, Amcor, Temptco, and Hancor. I also have Belmore track in, but I'm going "off the menu" there by adding a second run around, a siding for transloading, and perhaps a spur to a small warehouse - sort of a "what-if" scenario to give me some operating potential beyond the very basic levels of the branch.

Oh - I may extend the line south a little and am wondering if there were any gravel pits or other customers in the Belmore-Littlerock corridor in modern times?

Thanks again!

-Dave
 

Jackrabbit

Preserving "America's RR"
I don't know the current schedule as it has been a while since I photographed the local. East of Easton may have better info on that.

As for some of your other questions, I have notice the occasional heavy load taken into the substation at Trosper Rd and some loads to the Advanced drainage business just south of there. Littlerock had a sawmill along the line that lasted into the 80's, I believe. There was also an extensive dairy out just north of Littlerock that could be incorporated to justify a feed mill on your layout. PepsiCo near Mutual Materials used to ship a lot but I don't know if they do anymore. Hope that helps.
 

auburnrails

New Member
I don't know the current schedule as it has been a while since I photographed the local. East of Easton may have better info on that.

As for some of your other questions, I have notice the occasional heavy load taken into the substation at Trosper Rd and some loads to the Advanced drainage business just south of there. Littlerock had a sawmill along the line that lasted into the 80's, I believe. There was also an extensive dairy out just north of Littlerock that could be incorporated to justify a feed mill on your layout. PepsiCo near Mutual Materials used to ship a lot but I don't know if they do anymore. Hope that helps.
Thanks for the info. Due to space constraints I chose not to put in the substation, but I kinda wondered if they ever received anything.

Feed mill? Good idea! I'll keep that in mind.

Thanks again!

-Dave
 

East Of Easton

Wester Than Lester
I'm modeling the Mottman spur from downtown Olympia, and am planning a quick trip down that way in a few weeks to get some shots. Is the local still running out the branch on Thursdays? Does anyone know what time roughly that they might be heading out?
Been off the boards for a few days; I can try to answer some of your questions.

First off, short of having some primary source info, trying to predict TR's operating schedule is like hitting a bulls-eye on a dart board while blindfolded, drunk, and spun around in a swivel chair beforehand. Well, maybe not that drastic, but you get the idea.:p It is possible to find them working any day or hour of the week. They do tend to work on a semi-predictable schedule, but just when you think you've figured it out they throw a changeup.

With all that in mind, I would say your best shot to catch them working the territory, generally, would be a Tuesday (maybe Thursday), anytime from 10 A.M. to 2 P.M. inbound, and 4:00 P.M. to ???? outbound. However, I've noticed over the last few years they tend to do more nighttime work during the winter months, like 8 P.M to 2 A.M. Times and days also flex depending on when they work Quadlock. Nowadays, If I'm on the hunt for some Oly Local action I have ATCS monitor set up to tell me when anything pops off or on the Seattle Sub specifically from the CP 32, south approach block. That, and listening to Centralia South D.S. Ch# 66 is a pretty good indicator. What I do, as well (if you do have ATCS Monitor), is run a log of that data for a few weeks at a time to try and nail down any type of schedule. Short of that, sit and wait at East Olympia.:confused: If you do miss then coming in from East Oly, or you suspect they might be working, you can usually find them working Mottman with a scanner and low gain\short range antenna (slow short trains tend to hide pretty well). Also of note: They seem to do all their classifying and interchange at Dupont these days, where before it was in East Oly.

As far as your list of to-sees...

1. Typical train length is about 4 to 10 cars.
2. Customers switched: can't say much to that because, save a couple of crossings, most of the switching activity in Mottman is out of view. Your best view is Mutual Materials and Columbia Beverage off of 29'th Ave. I will say this though, they're damn quick.
3. Best of luck to 'ya.
4. Between Mottman and Hancor is level grade, however it is closely surrounded by hills; Tumwater Hill just to the East and Capitol Forest\Black Hills a little off to the West.

Jackrabbit mentioned the substation. I did see a center-depressed flatcar go inbound a few weeks ago. Don't know if it was heading there or to the port. As far as port traffic, last thing I personally saw was gons of dredged silt two years ago.

I don't know if you're specifically modeling Tacoma Rail, but if I were looking to model that area, I'd go with BN era, anytime '75 to '96, or even up to 2003 when the brewery was still up and running. Specifically downtown and West Bay, before Hardel Plywood burned, and you still had a yard under the Capitol. Both U.P. and B.N. running almost daily trains. Of course that also includes Lacey (Eastside Olympia), before and after the line was severed over I-5.

If interested, I would definitely check out the brewery; who knows how long it will be standing. There's a spur just north of East Oly. on Rich Rd. to a building with a collapsed roof. I've seen businesses occupy the space but never any rail traffic. Short of the ex-Weyehauser panel plant in Quadlock and Georgia Pacific on Fones Rd., just off I-5, exit 107, most everything between St. Clair and downtown Oly. is removed.

Downtown: The old Hardel shipping warehouse is in redevelopment, track removed, although the street trackage on Jefferson St. between the tunnel and the port remains; check that out. There are a few industrial buildings once served by rail just before the port. You can view the port rails from the Farmer's Market parking lot. Nothing much to see anymore along Capitol Lake, except the bridge. There's the wye just across from Marathon Park. The utility building in between the wye just went in a year ago. Although most of the infrastructure is either burned, empty, or turned into a park, I would still check out the rails along West Bay. The ex-Reliable Steel building just recently burned and will be torn down soon.

I took quite a few picks of both locals in the early to mid-90's. All crap, but interesting, nonetheless. Mostly downtown and East Olympia. I'll post a few in the BN into the 90's thread if you're interested.
 

auburnrails

New Member
Thanks, Nick - that's a wealth of information! I appreciate it.

I'm going to be modeling the current era, which does leave out a lot of interesting stuff, but the flipside is that it keeps things simple and I like the modern era.

I'm usually working on Tuesday's, and I happen to be off next Thu-Sat to give myself some free time, so I guess Thursday it will be. It isn't critical that I catch the train on the branch, but it'd be nice. I mainly like to see the train make-up, but I can figure that out based on the customers and from using Google Earth.

I visited the line last year, but didn't have a map. I walked the trail from the tunnel to the wye, and got lots of pics of the bridge and so forth. I also checked out the Mottman industrial park but didn't take any shots at the time. This time I'd like to get a few basic shots to help with background ideas, building styles, etc.

Beyond that, I may check out some of the other things, but perhaps just parking at East Oly for a while would be a good use of time. I can catch some mainline action and maybe get a glimpse of the TR local -who knows?

If you do post the pics, that'd be great, but don't go out of your way just for me. Thanks again for all the info!

-Dave
 

BN Oly

New Member
I don't know how I missed this thread earlier, but here are my 2 cents. From Capotol Lake its 1.7% up to the switch just before Mutual Materials. From there to Ohm its a very slight uphill grade. Just before Hancor the line begins to dip a little bit to cross the creek thats visible from 66th crosses the lione.

They pull the train uphill and switch Mutual, Haney(pepsi corn syrup) and the CNC containers Northwest facility. The steel fabricator gets occasional inbound moves on flats or bulkheads, and then down to Hancor if they need anything.

Here is where it gets goofey. Back in the BN days it was a reverse move back down to the wye at the lake where they would wye the whole train (or go down to Hardell). I have seen TR in the past make the reverse move down the hill. However last tuesday I was off work and happened to find them down at Hancor. I could see the tank cars sitting on the main, so i figured they were in the spur at Hancor switching loads for empties. I darted down to 66th, and could not see the power, nor could I see it at Hancor, so it must have been behind the building. I went back and parked in the dead-end just south of BPA's site and waited for them to return. Much to my surprise, the power was leading!! I don't know if they did a dutch-drop and reversed into hancor's spur (risky!) or if they split the power and tucked one into the pass, pulled the train clear, hooked onto the north end of the train with the unit in the pass, pulled clear, shoved back and recoupled the power?? All i know is the power got on the wrong (for me at least!) end of the train and led it back down the hill.

Seems like a lot of shenanagins just to avoid backing down the hill and using the wye.

If you want info from back in the UP and BN Oly days, let me know, I can give you a rich history from about 1988-onwards.
 

auburnrails

New Member
Very interesting, BN Oly. Thanks for the info. In particular, that return move with the power on the head end is interesting to say the least.

When I visited the line last week I didn't catch the TR, but I did check out the line from roughly Mutual Materials to the old siding at Belmore. The line is not in the best of shape as you get out past Hancor especially, but it looked like there were quite a few cars on the customers sidings.

Any feedback on what Mutual Materials gets/makes? The cylindrical hoppers set out there were very rusted, making them look like they rarely move.

Anyhow, thanks again for the info!

-Dave
 

BN Oly

New Member
What specificly is in the Mutual Materials hoppers, i do not know, however they make concrete and stone agregate products (pavers, ecology blocks, etc) there so I would imagine its some sort of mineral, aggregate, lime, etc. its not very dense as they arrive in the 4bay hoppers, not the small 2bay concrete hoppers. Mutual and Hancor (or advanced drainage, whatever they call themselves now) probably average 2-5 cars a week. Amcor used to get the most, as many as 5-7 a day(5 days a week), but I think they are down to 2-3. Haney (pepsi) has always gone in spurts. 2 cars here, 2 cars there, then 7's. I havent seen it recently but back in the 90's, Mutual materials also used to get 60' santa fe plug door boxcars spotted there. I never found out if it was inbound or outbound.

The steel company gets the least from what i have observed, maybe an average of 1-2 a week.
 

BN Oly

New Member
Nick mentioned the westbay line to the old Hardell veneer mill. Thats definitely worth a look. Some of the rail past the wye all the way down was the original rail laid by the narrow gauge line that first served Olympia from Tenino. Many of the rails have pre-1900 casting dates. Most of it is 70lb. Needless to say it made for a scary ride.
 

Midsouth fan

Engr/'duc/brkmn/DS
Nick mentioned the westbay line to the old Hardell veneer mill. Thats definitely worth a look. Some of the rail past the wye all the way down was the original rail laid by the narrow gauge line that first served Olympia from Tenino. Many of the rails have pre-1900 casting dates. Most of it is 70lb. Needless to say it made for a scary ride.
That's what alot of my mainline has as well...75# rail forged by Carnegie in 1897! :D
 

auburnrails

New Member
What specificly is in the Mutual Materials hoppers, i do not know, however they make concrete and stone agregate products (pavers, ecology blocks, etc) there so I would imagine its some sort of mineral, aggregate, lime, etc. its not very dense as they arrive in the 4bay hoppers, not the small 2bay concrete hoppers. Mutual and Hancor (or advanced drainage, whatever they call themselves now) probably average 2-5 cars a week. Amcor used to get the most, as many as 5-7 a day(5 days a week), but I think they are down to 2-3. Haney (pepsi) has always gone in spurts. 2 cars here, 2 cars there, then 7's. I havent seen it recently but back in the 90's, Mutual materials also used to get 60' santa fe plug door boxcars spotted there. I never found out if it was inbound or outbound.

The steel company gets the least from what i have observed, maybe an average of 1-2 a week.
Wow, great info once again. That helps me in planning my moves on my layout. Appreciate it!

-Dave
 

FoamersNW

'"The Chief"'
Nick mentioned the westbay line to the old Hardell veneer mill. Thats definitely worth a look. Some of the rail past the wye all the way down was the original rail laid by the narrow gauge line that first served Olympia from Tenino. Many of the rails have pre-1900 casting dates. Most of it is 70lb. Needless to say it made for a scary ride.
If you drive south on Deschutes Parkway from the wye at Marathon Park, after you pass Lakeridge Dr, look to the right on the hillside you will see the former grade of the line mentioned here as it gains elevation towards Tumwater - much easier to see in the winter time.
 

auburnrails

New Member
check out page 4 of the line schematic from the NP days - a little rough, but you get the idea of the grade;

http://research.nprha.org/NP Track Charts Profiles/Tac 16th 17th 18th 20th subs.pdf

would be great to see photos of your layout.
Interesting - thanks for posting that. I enjoyed looking over the whole thing.

Not much to see of my "layout" yet. :) Much of the track is in and I'm starting to play around with structure placement with some Rix/Pikestuff kits where I just tape the four walls together and sit them in place. For the most part, it's blue foam! I'll try to post a couple of pics to give an idea of what I'm doing, and I think you'll be able to get a feel for what's what.

-Dave
 

FoamersNW

'"The Chief"'
Wow Dave! Looks to be a great operational layout - where are you located at. May need to do an ops session if you are local.
 

auburnrails

New Member
I'm in Auburn. Lots to do though. I still haven't soldered all the track that I need to, put in extra feeder wires, blah blah blah. :) Thanks for the comments. I am just looking forward to getting ot a point where it runs well and that I can start doing a little scenery. I have been looking at the same blue boards - in various layout incarnations - for the better part of 15 years! In my Belmore pics, in particular, you can see the remnants of where the cork was glued down in my previous layout, which on that wall was Aberdeen.

I really need to prioritize my time better!

-Dave
 

East Of Easton

Wester Than Lester
If you drive south on Deschutes Parkway from the wye at Marathon Park, after you pass Lakeridge Dr, look to the right on the hillside you will see the former grade of the line mentioned here as it gains elevation towards Tumwater - much easier to see in the winter time.
Not only that, the grade is still intact in a few other visible locations, as well. There is a long stretch that parallels Capitol Way (Old U.S. 99) between the Deschutes Rv. and Trosper Rd.. It's behind the hillside, before Tumwater Valley. Farther south on Old 99, just past Plum, the grade again parallels the road, quite visibly, especially after some recent tree cutting, until the BNSF crosses over the highway. If you follow the mainline north just outside Tenino, along McDuff Rd, the old grade is again visible parallel to the tracks.

Looks like a fun operation you'll have there, Dave. So are you limiting it to the industrial park and Belmore?
 

auburnrails

New Member
. So are you limiting it to the industrial park and Belmore?
Well, the plan is a few staging tracks representing the BNSF/UP interchange. Trains would exit staging from the tunnel under downtown, swing around and across the doorway and into the Mottman Industrial Park. Then it's the five main industries and then Belmore.

Just about an hour ago I was thinking that maybe instead of ending in a hidden staging yard I'd have it go up a grade to about 12" above the main layout level, then emerge on the line as it heads out through Tumwater towards the mainline. I'd then terminate it in an open staging yard representing Tumwater, which would solve the hidden switching dilemma.

The only other thing I'm thinking of down the road is possibly extending it past Belmore onto a very narrow, removable peninsula that would represent Littlerock with perhaps a feed mill, propane dealer, and so forth.

Beyond that, that's pretty much it. Maybe if I ever get it semi-complete I could institute a fictional Capital Limited Dinner Train that would do an out-and-back sort of run. Or maybe a ballast loadout out at Littlerock that could be served with BNSF 4 axle units on a work train.

If you have any suggestions, that'd be great, but the room is 10'X10' with a 2'X5' closet area - not too much space. :)

-Dave
 

auburnrails

New Member
Not a lot. I got "sidetracked" around April with other things and haven't spent much time in there since. A few things I did do was to buy a silo set up off of eBay that will adjoin the Amcor warehouse, and then from the same guy I commissioned a silo set up that matches what is used by Hancor out near Belmore. I'll try to post a few photos of those.

I also added a G&W MP15DC switcher to my GMTX and two undec's of the same model. Somehow, between them, I hope to get two operational, well-running units. That has yet to work itself out, but in good time I'm sure it will be fine.

Finally, I added one of the Athearn LPG tank cars (late model version) but have been less than impressed with it's running ability. I think it will need either new wheels or new trucks/wheels before it runs well enough to be enjoyable.

Otherwise, that's it for now. Pics soon if I can find them on the computer. :)

-Dave
 




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