by Neil Knopf, Editor

Great news! This spring, the Great Northern & Cascade Railroad will begin operations on a brand new track at Skykomish, Washington. After months of planning and hard work, the fruits of their efforts will take place on May 4, 2013. Their story is one for the history books…

How a town decides to go into the outdoor railroading business! This story begins at the turn of the nineteenth century when the Great Northern Railroad built its line over the Cascade Mountains of Washington state. Skykomish was selected as the western end of a helper district through the Stevens Pass segment of the new transcontinental line. For decades, the GN ran its locomotive facilities in the town and the community continued to grow along with the rail service. Later, as the twentieth century was concluding, rail service change dramatically and dwindled. The GN became part of the Burlington Northern and then it became part of the BNSF, one of the country’s most dynamic railroads today.

Oil is discovered! …not the good kind, but in the ground water. Skykomish had decreased in population and revenue for some time, and the news of the contaminated water nearly caused the town to fold. However, the remaining townsfolk determined they had been a railroad town and they would stay a railroad town. The BNSF made them a spectacular offer. They would repair the town water table and help them establish a miniature railroad park in the heart of the town.

The story of this adventure is described with much more detail in Live Steam & Outdoor Railroading magazine. Bill Zingheim and a half dozen of his close associates wrote an article called, “Out of the Rubble of the Past Emerges a New Live Steam Railroad.” Part One appeared in the March/April 2013 issue of LSOR. The scope of the rebuilding project is shown along with great photos of the rehabilitation process undertaken by the BNSF crews.

Part Two, in the current issue of LSOR, describes how the volunteers and the townspeople got together to make the new 7-1/2″ gauge outdoor railroad a reality. The engineering problems associated with surveying the track route, setting up the line for a tunnel and a trestle, and other issues of access and egress are described.

Part Three will finish up the series in the July/August issue – don’t miss it!

Build a Locomotive
Starting in the current issue of Live Steam & Outdoor Railroading is the new construction series about building a representative model of one of the first steam locomotives in America – the Tom Thumb – and probably more famous for losing a race to a horse rather than its place in the history of mechanical achievements. This “Tom Thumb” is a project that can be tackled by the novice builder and the veteran metalworker with equal enthusiasm. Its diminutive size (approximately 3/4″ scale to run on 3-1/2″ gauge track) will be easy on the back as well as the pocketbook. Designed by a well-known member of the live steam hobby, Bill Shields, the little locomotive will be a gratifying project for the first-time live steamer or the accomplished locomotive builder.

New to the hobby but not metalworking, Tim Vaughan takes up his hand in the construction of this little locomotive. His photography is first rate as he documents the machining steps necessary to transfer Bill’s design into a bona fide steam locomotive.

Be sure to follow the footsteps of these two, as the project moves on in the next issue!

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