24 December 2009

Christmas 2009

(Both photos above courtesy of Rolland Meyers. The top one was shot in the summer of 1997 and the bottom one on 7-16-07. Both feature the St, Maries logging trains and a glimpse of what our recently-acquired log car was used for in its heyday.)

It has been a good year for the HPG and we've had two "Christmas" presents as of late: a caboose and a log car, both true artifacts of the WI&M Railway's history. The HPG's mission has mostly focused on preserving the Potlatch depot, but the goal is also to give tribute to the WIM's successful and colorful history as a short line.

We came across an interesting article in the August 31, 1972 issue of the Daily Idahonian, entitled "WI&M Ry. Chugs Ahead to Profit." It noted that the railroad "reversed its long history of red ink, and last year a dividend was paid for the first time." Neal McKellips, the short line's auditor and co-manager along with Bill Lemke, said higher freight rates and improved railroad practices led to the turnaround. The article also mentioned that the line at that point leased its engines from the Milwaukee Road and boxcars from the Burlington Northern or Milwaukee Road, depending on destinations. McKellips admitted that having the Milwaukee Road logo plastered all over the engines presented the WI&M with something of an identity crisis, so he had some magnetic signs made to cover the Milwaukee Road logos. A photo accompanying the article pictured Old Number One in front of the depot, with an explanation that the locomotive was later sold to the City of Potlatch for $1 and had since become a tourist attraction.

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