Engineer Gene Lawson made his final departure on Friday, November 21. He was 87. Gene is survived by his wife Vera, three children, and five grandchildren.
Gene came from a Milwaukee Road family. His father Lloyd and mother Blanche met while they were both working for the railroad to help build the electrification system in Washington. Lloyd later worked as a substation operator in Taunton and Kittitas, WA. Growing up along the tracks, Gene knew he wanted to work for the railroad. After a tour in the Navy, he started with the Milwaukee Road on August 15, 1950 as a fireman with seniority between Cle Elum, WA and Avery, ID. In 1957, Gene promoted to engineer. During his career working for the Milwaukee Road, he frequently worked between Othello and Cle Elum. Gene spent time as an engineer on the helper engines based in Beverly, WA, and also worked the branch to Hanford from Beverly. Aside from running the Olympian Hiawatha, his favorite job was running the electric locomotives.
At the end of Milwaukee Road operations in Washington, Gene was the engineer on the third to last train leaving Tacoma, bringing it from Cedar Falls to Cle Elum. His last trip into Cle Elum was documented by author Blair Kooistra in his September 1980 Trains Magazine article “How the Milwaukee Road packed up and went home from the West”. Milwaukee Road 5057, now owned by Cascade Rail Foundation and being restored for display in South Cle Elum, was one of the locomotives on that train. Gene was the last engineer to bring it into Cle Elum.
Gene has been a special friend to Cascade Rail Foundation from the very beginning of our work. He frequently attended events at the depot in South Cle Elum, inspiring volunteers and guests with his stories. You can see interviews of Gene and his wife Vera from our 2011 Milwaukee Road Employees Luncheon on our YouTube site.
|Gene talking about his time working for the Milwaukee Road at the 2011 Milwaukee Employees Annual Luncheon|
We should all be so fortunate to love our jobs as much as Gene loved being an engineer for the Milwaukee Road. We will greatly miss hearing his tales and anecdotes from his time working for the railroad.
A full obituary can be found at www.steward-williams.com.
If you wish to make a memorial donation to the 5057 Project through our web site, please email us using the address on the PayPal receipt to let us know your wishes.
The 5057 is about to start its trip north! Union Pacific has cleared it for movement and we expect them to pick it up in Portola, CA soon. It will soon be returning to Washington for the first time in nearly 35 years! It left Washington in one of the last Milwaukee Road trains out of the state.
The 5057 will be heading to the Pend Oreille Valley Railroad shop in Usk, WA where we will begin the restoration phase of the 5057 Project. Funding is still needed for the restoration, so please donate if you can. Follow the 5057 blog to get the latest news on the move and visit our 5057 web site to learn more about the project.
|October 18, 2014|
|10:00 am||to||4:00 pm|
We’re hosting a special work session for the Cascade Rail Foundation collections of Milwaukee Road material at Pacific Northwest Railroad Archives in Burien, WA on Saturday, October 18, 2014 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The primary focus of the work session will be organizing and digitizing train lists in our collections. We haven’t counted how many there are, but there are definitely hundreds of them. But if that isn’t your ‘cup of tea’, don’t worry! We have plenty of other things that you can do. From putting documents in folders and labeling them with a pencil to scanning documents or photos, we have a task for you! Okay, that may not sound like exciting stuff but you get to do it with fellow Milwaukee Road fans and we always seem to discover some interesting historical tidbits of information as we work. Plus, we’ll feed you pizza at the end of the day! If you’d like to join us, please RSVP to Paul Krueger at email@example.com or send a message via our contact form on our web site.
More about those train lists…
The Bernsten Collection has three clipboards, each with a stack several inches tall attached to them. One is labeled “Mainline East” and has trainlists from September 1979 through March 19, 1980. Another is labeled “Coast Division Mainline West” and has train lists from July 1979 to March 11, 1980. The third in this collection is labeled “Tacoma South Lines” and has train lists from September 1979 to March 7, 1980. These lists will be a great resource for anyone studying the last months of operations of the Milwaukee Road in Washington.
We also have quite a few train lists from various locations around Washington in the Nighswonger Collection for trains that operated in November 1977 and also have a similar stack from the Freeman Collection for trains that operated in 1979 and 1980.
Here is an example from the Nighswonger Collection (click the image to see a larger version):
Our fourth annual Milwaukee Employees Annual Luncheon will be held at Smokey’s BBQ in the Cle Elum depot on Saturday, October 4, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The luncheon menu features barbeque chicken from Smokey’s BBQ.
Our intent is to honor former employees of the railroad, recognizing their service on the railroad. We hope to bring fellow co-workers back together and spark candid stories reminiscing the days in the past when they were employed by the railroad.
Come and join us for an enjoyable lunch and time with friends. Please RSVP if you plan to attend. Each former employee may bring one guest.
Please RSVP by September 27 to Paul Krueger at: firstname.lastname@example.org
We need a few volunteers to participate in a work party at the Western Pacific Railroad Museum in Portola, CA during the week of June 9-14.
This work party will finish preparing the 5057 for movement to the Pend Oreille Valley Railroad shop in Usk, WA this summer. The primary focus will be on the air brake system. The brake beams and hangers for the #3 axle need to be reassembled so the air brake system can be tested and any problems can be resolved. Also, more work needs to be done to secure the locomotive for the trip (welding temporary steel bars across the hood access doors). We will be working hard to get the work done earlier than June 14, but we’re allowing extra time in case things don’t go as planned.
Volunteer accommodations are available in a sleeping car at the museum at least to June 12.
All participants will be Feather River Rail Society members. If you are not a member, we will ensure you become a member.
Hard hats and safety glasses will be provided or you can bring your own if you have them.
If you’re interested in joining this volunteer crew or have questions, please contact Paul Krueger at email@example.com.
An anonymous donor has stepped forward with a matching challenge donation. The donor will match the the next $1,000 dollars we raise with a $500 matching donation. The donor’s donation is eligible for an employer matching donation, effectively making this a $1,000 matching donation. In other words, if you donate now the impact of your donation will be doubled!
You can visit our Archive web site to see Milwaukee Road-related documents and photos in our collections. To go to our site, click here or on the image below.
We’re having our annual rail yard work party on Saturday, May 3rd from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. We’ll be focusing on the interpretive trail and also plan to clean-up the area around the substation so we can move the fence closer to the building.
Bring work gloves and your own water bottle (we can provide water). Lunch is on your own; you can brown bag your lunch or have BBQ at Smokey’s in the depot.
Please join us if you can! Contact us to let us know you’re coming or if you have questions.
We’ve started a new blog to provide updates about the 5057 Project. You can click on the image below to check it out.
We’ve also started a new fundraising campaign to raise money for moving the 5057 from Portola, CA to the Pend Oreille Valley Railroad in Usk, WA, where we will have the cosmetic restoration work done on the 5057. You can read all about it on the blog.
|March 29, 2014|
|10:00 am||to||5:00 pm|
The March Milwaukee Road Meet (formerly the “Milwaukee Kent Meet”) is a gathering for slides, movies and discussion and socializing. All are welcome! As in the past, this is a free event. Bring your photos, artifacts, models, memorabilia and other items for display.
Cascade Rail Foundation is pleased to support this event again this year by hosting it at Pacific Northwest Railroad Archive (PNRA), where Cascade Rail Foundation is a member organization. It is also the home of the Boeing Employees Model Railroad Club.
This is your chance to get together and see some photos and presentations by some of the renowned Milwaukee Road photographers and historians in the Pacific Northwest.
Saturday, March 29, 2014
10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
- The archive facility does allow for sales of your memorabilia, paper and model railroad items. However, space is limited.
- Parking is also limited. Please park on the street if you can. Be aware that some of the nearby street spaces have a two-hour limit.
- The event is FREE, although a $3 donation applied to the Cascade Rail Foundation Milwaukee Road archives program is suggested by the organizers.
You can download a map with directions here: PNRA_Directions