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Dick B
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Dick B
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PostMon Mar 04, 2024 12:25 pm 
The ongoing thread about Stevens Pass and the Wellington disaster caused me to reflect on why the GN RR built the existing 7.8 mile tunnel. Steep grades, curves, heavy snow with danger of avalanches, the need to rebuild and maintain many snowsheds, operating a town at both ends of the 2 mile tunnel and operating lots of snow removal equipment were some the of reasons to move the road down off the mountain to its present location. There were many aspects connected with this construction effort. Being an ex-surveyor, one of the facets that has always aroused my curiosity was the surveying that was involved. Surveyors provided the data needed to determine where the tunnel was to be to be located, and to make sure that the location was adhered to during construction. There was a lot of time expended and skill involved by the survey crews. Consider that when the surveying occurred back in the 20s. No GPS or electronic measuring devices. Just levels, level rods, transits, theodolites, plumb bobs and a measuring tapes. No computers, so all computations had to have done by hand. Prior to excavation of the main tunnel, a smaller pilot tunnel (PT) was constructed. It ran parallel to the main tunnel. Small drifts were built from the PT to the main tunnel and then many faces could be worked at the same time. Early on in the PT phase, an 8' x 24' shaft was constructed to a depth of 659 feet down to where the PT was designed to come through. this was known as the Mill Creek shaft and was located about 3 miles west the east portal. This was done so the PT could be worked from 4 faces. This shaft had to be located directly over the tunnel. From the bottom of the completed shaft, the surveyors had to determine the line and grade of the tunnel and which direction to go. When breakthrough occurred with the tunneling from the east, the alignment was off about 2.5 inches and the grade less than that. I was not able to fine the closure going west. I am still trying to find any detailed surveying information as to how the final alignment of the PT, hence the main tunnel was determined. I hoped there would have been a book written about this phase of the process. Perhaps the U of W archives might have something. Believe me, the surveying effort on this project was critical. There was no room for error. I did Google the Mill Creek shaft. There was a recent picture that showed the shaft location to be grown over, but nothing to show if it was capped or filled in. Has anyone visited the site and if so the condition? I'm sure they would have never left it open.

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Mike Collins
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PostMon Mar 04, 2024 5:24 pm 
The first railroad tunnel constructed was for the Great Northern RR. In 1970 it became the Burlington Northern RR which merged with the Sante Fe in 1996 to become the current BNSF. The records for the Great Northern are housed in the archives of the Minnesota Historical Society. The link will take you to the material which is accessible to on-line searches. Their Engineering Department records are open for research. But with your specific questions you may have better success with contacting the reference librarian directly either by phone or email. http://www2.mnhs.org/library/findaids/00901.xml

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CC
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PostMon Mar 04, 2024 6:18 pm 
Dick B wrote:
I am still trying to find any detailed surveying information as to how the final alignment of the PT, hence the main tunnel was determined. I hoped there would have been a book written about this phase of the process. Perhaps the U of W archives might have something. Believe me, the surveying effort on this project was critical. There was no room for error. I did Google the Mill Creek shaft. There was a recent picture that showed the shaft location to be grown over, but nothing to show if it was capped or filled in. Has anyone visited the site and if so the condition? I'm sure they would have never left it open.
Try the Great Northern Railway Historical society. They have archives with engineering drawings etc in Burien. Some of the people who worked on Iron Goat trail also volunteered there. The shaft was of course filled in but it has subsided over the years so there a 10' or so hole there now. It is adjacent to, and just west of "Guthrie Loop" Stevens Pass Nordic trail. Hard to see though if you don't know exactly where it is. Twenty years ago you used to be able to see the clearcut above the tunnel on the mountain to the east of mill valley, it crossed the "East Portal" ski trail near the top of the ridge, but now it has grown up more so it is hard to see. One time on a hike up Nason Ridge above Berne we came on one of those metal posts that they used to mount the surveying instruments on. There is also one near the west portal of the Old casecade tunnel at Wellington.

First your legs go, then you lose your reflexes, then you lose your friends. Willy Pep

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Dick B
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PostMon Mar 04, 2024 7:57 pm 
Thanks for the heads up on possible sources of information regarding the Cascade tunnel surveys. I once belonged to Great Northern Historical Society. I will probably rejoin. I will also tap the Minnesota Historical Society as they seem to be the repository of all things Great Northern. If I come up with anything that may be of interest, I will post.

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Schroder
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PostTue Mar 05, 2024 2:10 pm 
This may be an article of interest here https://lidarmag.com/2014/02/15/cascade-tunnel/ I recall some interest a few years ago for that side shaft in a project. I can't remember specifics. I think it was this https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/lab-buried-under-ski-slope-would-tackle-cosmic-puzzles/

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Dick B
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PostTue Mar 05, 2024 8:36 pm 
Schroder wrote:
This may be an article of interest here https://lidarmag.com/2014/02/15/cascade-tunnel/
I began working in the surveying profession in the mid 60s. The field and office equipment we used at that time was very close to what the surveyors used when the 7.8 mile tunnel was constructed in the 1920s. The electronic age kicked in during the early 70s and has advanced to what is described in Schroders post. 2 problems came with that technology, cost and learning how to use it. That said, I don't see any way the data produced by the lidar equipment could have could have been collected any other way. I am still trying to come up with the 21 miles of adverse grade mentioned in the article. I think that mileage exceeds the trackage abandoned because of the new tunnel.

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timberghost
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PostThu Mar 07, 2024 6:27 am 
Dick B wrote:
Thanks for the heads up on possible sources of information regarding the Cascade tunnel surveys. I once belonged to Great Northern Historical Society. I will probably rejoin. I will also tap the Minnesota Historical Society as they seem to be the repository of all things Great Northern. If I come up with anything that may be of interest, I will post.
You better join the Skykomish historical society

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ReadSky
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PostThu Mar 07, 2024 11:58 am 
I suspect the information you seek is in the Great Northern Historical Society Reference Sheet 105 titled "New Cascade Tunnel-Surveying the route". Also of possible interest are Reference Sheets 119, 128, 140, and 150 containing a four part series titled "New Cascade Tunnel Construction". The 1900 construction of the original 2.6 mile Cascae Tunnel uner Stevens Pass is covered in Reference Sheet 175. The new Cascade Tunnel refers to the 7.8 mile tunnel complete in 1929 and currently in use. Anyone exploring the site of the Mill Creek Camp for the head of ther Mill Creek Shaft should keep member CC's observation of a depression in mind. The sharp sided depression is in heavy intertwined brush and most likely will be discovered by falling in.

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ReadSky
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PostThu Mar 07, 2024 12:16 pm 
The Skykomish Historical Society Museum in Skykomish has a very nice display utilizing the photographs of Lee Pickett chronicling the history and building of the 7.8-mile New Cascade Tunnel. Lee Pickett was the offiial photographer for the Great Northern Railroad during the building of the New Cascade Tunnel. His photographs can be viewed in the digital collections of the Skykomish Historical Society and in those of the University of Washington Library. Among the photographs are ones showing the surveying process.

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Dusty Trale
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PostSat Mar 09, 2024 6:03 pm 
A good source of survey data is in the January 1929 issue of RAILWAY and MARINE NEWS. The whole issue was about building the "new" 7.8 mile Cascade Tunnel for the Great Northern Railway. Back when it was built the tunnel cost $14 million. The magazine shows the plans and survey information to construct the tunnel. The Mill Creek shaft was 640 feet deep. The GN had three camps for the workers, Scenic, Mill Creek and Berne. They were working 7 days a week, 24 hours per day and finished the project in 3 years. The official opening of the new tunnel was on Jan. 12, 1929. Here are some fun facts about the workers building the tunnel: During the 3 years to build it they ate 78,650 lbs. of fish, 379,610 lbs. of butter, 713,870 lbs. of beef, 199,395 lbs. of pork, 345,663 lbs. of ham and bacon, and 318,00 gallons of milk. They also smoked over 200 million cigarettes. Two railroad refrigerator cars of food would be delivered to each camp per week. The GN supplied the food and cigs for the workers.

hikerbiker
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Dick B
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PostSat Mar 09, 2024 8:36 pm 
Guys. Thanks for all feedback. I have an email into the Skykomish Historical Society to find out what reference material they might have. No reply as yet. I am attempting to re join with the GNHS, but I still haven't figured out their re up system. Shouldn't be that hard but for some reason it is to me. ReadSky I may have read Reference 105. The one I read included a letter written by one of the members of the survey crew. They drafted him to the crew from doing maintenance on the snowsheds. I thought I had saved it but guess not. It contained some good info. I will track it down again Dusty T. Any idea how how to obtain a copy of the the Railway Marine Magazine? I Googled and something called Worth Point came up. Again, thanks.

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oldwild
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PostSun Mar 10, 2024 6:45 pm 
You might also check out the Northwest Railway Museum (trainmuseum.org) They did a big display on the wellington disaster that I believe is still up in the history center. They have lots of information on it.

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CC
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CC
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PostWed Mar 20, 2024 3:24 pm 
Took these pics of shaft subsidence a couple days ago. Actually it’s deeper than 10’, more like 15’ to 20.’

First your legs go, then you lose your reflexes, then you lose your friends. Willy Pep
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Dick B
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Dick B
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PostWed Mar 20, 2024 7:24 pm 
CC wrote:
Took these pics of shaft subsidence a couple days ago. Actually it’s deeper than 10’, more like 15’ to 20.’
If a person or animal were to fall in this pit could they still climb out? If not then the FS or BNFS should hire a backhoe to fill it in.

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