Friday, February 27, 2009

Railroads Revisited

About a year ago, I reviewed Gary Krist's book about an epic snowstorm in Washington's Cascade Mountains in 1910. There was an incredible amount of snowfall that trapped two trains, and then another storm blew in that caused a horrific avalanche. The trains were wiped off the hillside and nearly a hundred people lost their lives.

One important figure in the book was the great railroad magnate James J. Hill, whose quest for a passable route through the high Cascades led to the construction of the longest tunnel in the nation.

My family enjoys watching The History Channel, and last night I stumbled onto an episode of Extreme Trains that mentioned that very tunnel and that awful disaster. This episode was all about the Empire Builder train from Chicago to Seattle, and the climax of the show was this infamous section of the Cascades that claimed so many lives all those years ago. The episode is not available for online viewing, but perhaps will be rebroadcast a few more times. It was a great way to spend an hour while keeping company with napping dogs.

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