Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Irregular, Rambling & Never-Get-There Railroad

This is my new favorite railroad: The Ilwaco Railway & Navigation Company, AKA "The Irregular, Rambling and Never-Get-There." It ran from the late 1880s to the 1930s along the Washington coast, carrying oysters, cranberries, and passengers. Like me, it was both whimsical and curmudgeonly -- it had a completely unreliable timetable based on the tides (which may be unique in railroad history), and the owner was so miserly he refused to replace ties unless he could punk a hole in them with his walking stick. The trains often stopped enroute for a plethora of bizarre and unpredictable reasons: so the passengers could shoot geese for dinner; to allow tourists to gawk at a beached whales and shipwrecks; or merely so a member of the crew could pick wildflowers for his wife. One woman dropped a ball of yarn out the window, and the engineer stopped the train, ran after it, and wound it up for her as he returned.

The owner had a private station in front of his mansion, and he frequently made trains wait for him, which threw the already capricious schedule off even further.

Without realizing it, I've eaten at a restaurant that was once a depot on this line, and I've driven through the tunnel that goes under Ft. Columbia many times while I lived in Astoria. 

This has a lot of potential as a shelf layout!

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