Montana By Steam 2002 - Part 2

Oct 10, Pasco, WA to Sandpoint, ID on the NP road

At the Essig passing track, just short of Ritzville, WA, we were held up while a local was switching at a grain elevator in Ritzville, so we put the time to use and performed partial servicing here and then finished in Ritzville while taking water. Partial servicing in this instance was "shooting the rods" on the side away from the main. Photo by Dale Birkholz.

Photo by Dale Birkholz.

While the 700 was rolling along the track, the PRPA also had two vehicles on the highway, the concessions trailer pulled by PRPA member Arnie Holden's pickup and the rental van that shuttled crew between train yard and lodging, restaurants, etc. In this photo, Arnie and concessions crew chief Patsy Kimzey have arrived in Ritzville ahead of the 700 and are parked next to the track where the 700 will be spotted. Photo by Arnie Holden.

The SP&S 700 arrives in Ritzville. Photo by Arnie Holden.

While stopped in Ritzville, Matt Baccitich is "spot firing" while servicing of the engine is completed. Spot firing simply means being the fireman while the engine is stopped. Being the fireman while moving is referred to as "road firing". Spot firing is easier than road firing because, for instance, you don't have an engineer sitting across the cab changing the throttle position which causes the exhaust to change the draft on your fire. Nevertheless, the spot fireman is expected to closely monitor the water level, pressure, fire status, and particularly to avoid letting the safety valves open while the crew is servicing the engine. Photo by Dale Birkholz.

Coming into Sandpoint, we cross the causeway across Pend O'Reille Lake. Dale took this photo from the train looking to the West. Photo by Dale Birkholz.

At the same time, somewhere out there looking back at us, Ted Curphey took this magnificent shot of the 700 on the causeway. If you look closely at the Kenny Prager (the green car in front of the Bella Vista dome car), you can barely make out a person standing in the open baggage door towards the front. It just might be Dale Birkholz, taking the previous picture. Photo by Ted Curphey.

Tom Weisner opens the drains on the feedwater pump. That's especially important this time, since tonight's low in Sandpoint is forecast to be around 18 or 20 degrees F. Photo by Dale Birkholz.

A crowd was waiting for us at the Montana Rockies Rail Tours siding in Sandpoint, where you see the engine in the picture below. Steam locomotives seem to bring out grandparents and grandchildren in greater proportion than they occur in the general population. Perhaps grandparents enjoy renewing their own memories of the spectacles of a bygone age and wish to provide their grandchildren with memories of a spectacle that is increasingly rare. My favorite type of railfan is a child who, upon seeing and hearing a steam locomotive go by for the first time in his/her life, stands with mouth agape, eyes wide open, hands clapped over ears, and face holding an expression of simultaneous rapture and disbelief. Disbelief because, wild as children's imaginations are, the 700 is usually bigger and louder than they imagined. Photo by Dale Birkholz.

Her labors for the day ended, the 700 takes on water. Photo by Dale Birkholz.

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