The Kimo Theater

If your western travels take you to Albuquerque New Mexico, a stop by one of the city’s most well known landmarks makes for a great side trip. The Kimo Theater located in the heart of the city at 423 Central Avenue NW is a historic site indeed. The first thing you’ll notice is the theaters very colorful art deco motif.

the kimo theater in albuquerque new mexico

The Kimo Theater, Albuquerque

The Kimo Theater was constructed in 1927 in what is referred to as an Art Deco-Pueblo Revival Style of architecture. The art deco look at the Kimo blends the Native culture of the southwest in it’s natural colorful spirit. The years of the 1920’s saw construction of movie theaters explode around the country with all types of architectural designs but the motif used with the Kimo was much more rare. The Pueblo Deco style had a relatively short life span during the 1920’s and the Kimo stands as rare and excellent example of that era.

The theater was originally built to show both motion picture and stage productions. It’s site had many passers by in as much as it sits directly on the old Route 66 through Albuquerque. The Kimo was built for Italian immigrant Oreste Bachechi at a cost of $150,000. The idea was to create a theater that stood out and it did. Bachechi, who arrived in Albuquerque in 1884, had been an operator of a general store near the railroad tracks and eventually found himself in the entertainment business.

kimo theater entrance

Entrance to the Kimo

Bachechi’s Albuquerque arrival was at a fortunate time for the city and his personal properity. The Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad had recently laid track to the city with Albuquerque being made a division point. This meant more people and more jobs.  In 1919 he began the Bachechi Amusement Association. Along with a partner he ran the Past Time Theater. As far as the Kimo’s name, Bachechi had a contest to name his new theater. The winning entry was Kimo and the author of the name, the then Governor of Isleta Pueblo, received a $50 prize. As for what the name Kimo means, it’s a combination of two Indian terms which translate to “mountain lion” or sometimes “king of it’s kind“.

kimo theater albuquerque

The Kimo's beautiful Art-Deco Southwestern motif

As for the buildings appearance, the exterior of the brick three story building is made of textured light brown stucco decorated with ornamental details of glazed terra cotta tile. When you visit the Kimo Theater you’ll see just how uniquely designed it is. The interior for example includes air vents that look like Navajo rugs and chandeliers the shape of Indian war drums. There are also seven murals that show Seven Cities of Cibola or sometimnes referred to as the Seven Cities of Gold. This was the original goal of the 1540 Coronado Expedition through the southwest. The history of the Kimo Theater includes appearances by such big entertainment names as western star Tom Mix and famous actress Gloria Swanson.

Unfortunately Oreste Bachechi died just one year after the new theater opened. Management was then taken over by his sons who decided to showcase a combination of motion pictures and vaudeville acts.

restoration of the kimo theater

The Kimo Theater building's artisitc restoration

At one time the Kimo Theater faced the wrecking ball but fortunately it was saved when the city of Albuquerque stepped forward and bought the historic building. When the city bought the theater it had deteriorated significantly and several restoration projects were scheduled. The Kimo was completely restored to the shape it was in during it’s heyday and now is a much visited venue.

Today the Kimo Theater entertains with stage plays, movies and concerts, guest speakers as well as civic movies and events. The theater has also been used for school graduations. The auditorium seats 650 people and although there is a balcony section, the building was constructed without an elevator. Because of the works of art inside the Kimo, it also serves as a southwestern art gallery.

The Kimo is also one of those old historic buildings with rumors of a haunting. This particular haunting pertains to a boiler explosion that occurred in 1951 an killed a six year old boy. Some have reported actually seeing the ghost of the boy although an investigation made by an editor from the Skeptical Inquirer disputed the origins of the alleged haunting.

Two articles we’ve published on our Western Trips Site regarding historic stops near the Kimo Theater are Old Town Albuquerque and the Old Alvarado Harvey House.

Being located on Central Avenue in the heart of Albuquerque, there are plenty of historic stops very nearby. These include Old Town Albuquerque which is only about 2 miles to the west. Another is the site of the old Alvarado Harvey House which is now the Alvarado Transportation Center for city buses and the New Mexico Rail Runner train. This site is about one-half mile east of the Kimo on Central Avenue.

The Norden Bombsight and German Espionage

Trips Into History takes a look at the Norden Bombsight which enabled World War Two bombers to have as much precision as possible during the conflict. Known as the “Blue Ox“, the Norden Bombsight apparatus was used by the U.S. Navy during World War Two and by the Air Force during both the Korean and Vietnam wars.

B-17’s in Hawaii shown prior to December 7, 1941

Today, the Norden Bombsight can be viewed at several locations around the United States. One location is at the Childress County Heritage Museum in Childress Texas. Childress was the location during the Second World War of an Army Airfield training bomber crews. The Childress Municipal Airport today was originally built as an airfield dedicated to training bombardier crews named the Childress Army Airfield. The class of cadets went through a three month program. The U.S. had set up more than a dozen of these bombardier training schools and in Texas they were located at Big Spring, Houston, Midland, San Angelo and Childress. The first school in the U.S. was at Lowry Field in Colorado. There was also a lot of training going on in the desert southwest. The Army Airfield was also the site of a prisoner of war camp during the war. Prisoners at the camp were a combination of Germans and Italians. Texas as a whole had about twice as many POW camps than any other state.

Norden Bombsight apparatus

Another location in addition to the Childress Texas Museum where the Norden Bomb Sight can be viewed today is the Computer History Museum in Mountain View California south of San Francisco. Another venue where the Norden Bombsight is exhibited is the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton Ohio. Yet, another display of the Norden Bombsight can be found at the Armed Forces History Museum in Largo Florida.

 

The Norden Bombsight was a classified piece of equipment and as such was guarded. The bombsight was originally developed by Carl Norden in 1932, some ten years prior to the U.S. entering World War Two, and the U.S. military adopted it that year although it was so classified that not many people knew of it’s existence for well over ten years. As an example of it’s high secrecy status, at the Childress Army Airfield, the bombsites were actually locked away in a building when not in use. In fact, bombardiers had to take an oath that their knowledge of the apparatus would be kept a secret. When their training courses and/or missions were completed the device was placed in a bag and locked up in a vault. As far as the public was concerned, their knowledge of the Norden Bombsight didn’t occur until 1944. By that time it’s classified nature was downgraded.

Norden M1 Bombsight, Courtesy National Museum of the Air Force

The real fact of the matter was that the secrecy of the  Norden Bombsight had been compromised years earlier by German spies in the United States. As a result, the Germans were aware of the device and it’s diagrams even prior to the start of the war. A German spy by the name of Herman Lang, employed by the Carl L. Norden Company passed on the information to the German military command in 1938. Lang reportedly passed on the details of the bombsight totally from memory. Lang was part of a wider German spy ring operating in the U.S. known as the Duquesne Spy Ring. It’s leader was Fritz Joubert Duquesne who had served in the Boer War and claimed to have sabotaged  the British ship HMS Hampshire in 1916 in which Lord Kitchener lost his life. It wasn’t until 1941 that the FBI arrested the ring which included 32 others in addition to Lang. This stands as the single largest spy ring conviction in the history of the United States. As can be anticipated the equivalent to the Norden Bombsight under various names appeared aboard various Luftwaffe aircraft during the war.

The Norden Bombsight was a clever device. During World War One, the system used was referred to as vectoring. This was essentially using wind speed and direction coupled with an aircrafts speed to determine a suitable vector to the target. The Norden system utilized a computer within the bombsight. With input from the bombardier, the computer would automatically calculate the plane’s altitude, speed, wind direction and speed and come up with an aim point.

Beech AT-11 used for bombing training by the Army Air Force during World War Two

The computer would automatically update the calculations after data input and show through the crosshairs where the bomb needed to be released. When the Norden Bombsight was directly connected to a Sperry C-1 Autopilot, the system was extremely accurate. Essentially, the Norden Bombsight allowed for much greater accuracy along with automatic functioning. The Norden system let the device itself release the bomb at just the correct moment. The Norden was principally a high altitude bombing mechanism employing smaller angles. It was not as effective in lower altitude bombing runs where the angle would be much greater and changing much more rapidly. Of course, the accuracy of the Norden system was no match for present day bombing guidance which can place a bomb or missile within just a few feet of it’s intended target.

Two additional articles you’ll enjoy on our Western Trips site are the Galveston Texas World War Two Defenses and the Defenses of San Francisco during the war.

On our Trips Into History site see the article about Alberto Santos-Dumont / The Inventor of the Airplane?

(Article copyright Trips Into History. Photos are from the public domain)

Airships / California Gold Rush

While airships to California may sound adventuresome, one of the more interesting museums in New England in the town of Bridgeton Maine is directly connected to this idea. Bridgeton is located about twenty miles west of Interstate 95, about one hundred and forty miles southwest of Bangor and about 143 miles north of Boston, MA. A visit to the Rufus Porter Museum in Bridgeton is truly a Trip Into History and very interesting history indeed. While the name of Rufus Porter may not be a household name to many, Porter was a man of science who we might say thought outside of the box. While not necessarily noted for his scientific calculations and achievements, he was a man with a vision and a man with a will to pursue those visions, at least in writing. That vision was to fly people to the California gold fields in three days. Something I would say unheard of in the late 1840’s.

rufus porter airship

The Aerial Locomotive advertisement, 1849, Public Domain image

Rufus Porter was the founder and editor of the weekly Scientific American which printed it’s first issue in 1845. In addition to his literary pursuits, Porter was also an inventor. The early years of the Scientific American reported mostly on inventions and patent office news. It’s been said that Rufus Porter actually had an interest in airships as far back as the 1820’s. In the year 1849 however, he came out with a publication entitled, Aerial Navigation… The Practicability of Traveling Pleasantly and Safely to California in Three Days. Two things were certain. The idea of airship travel to the California Gold Rush was unique to say the least. The second thing was that in the year that Porter released his theory and plan in writing, getting to the California gold fields as fast as possible was on many an easterner’s mind. As a result, Porter’s idea had an instant and at least, early audience. Airships to California was truly a unique theory in 1849.

In the book Anybody’s Gold by author Joseph Henry Jackson, the author describes the difficult ways in which easterners traveled to the California gold fields during the great Gold Rush. Overland travel in 1849 was a bit more than harsh. Between the Indians encountered along the way, mountain passes to cross and the diseases which were rampant over such a long journey, most opted for the steamers. This was a time twenty years before the completion of the transcontinental railroad. Long distance travel options were limited.

clipper ship advertisements

Clipper Ship to California advertisement, Public Domain image

Ship travel required one of two routes. Either the long way around Cape Horn and then up the west coasts of South America and then North America or the shorter but not less treacherous route through the Isthmus of Panama and then up the California coast.

Rufus Porter was a dreamer and his dream was to transport the gold seekers by airships over the plains and over the high Rocky Mountains. The proposal in his above mentioned publication was air travel in an era when there was no air travel. Porter’s design was an 800 foot long airship referred to as an “Aerial Locomotive“. The craft’s total weight was estimated at 14,000 pounds. The airship would be held aloft by a bag containing hydrogen gas that would require some 20,000 feet of spruce rods and 8,000 yards of cloth. About 12,000 feet of steel wire would suspend the passenger compartment that was made from wooden boards and painted cloth. Porter estimated that his craft could travel about 100 MPH with the help of steam engines. After all, this was the age of steam power. As far as the threat of a lightening strike, Rufus Porter suggested dragging a small copper wire from the airship that would touch the earth to discharge any electricity. The cost of Porter’s airship design was estimated to be $1,750.

Porter set the price of a ticket to California at $200. If this sounded a bit too high, the maiden trip, or actually trips, would cost a passenger only $50 with carrying no more than three-hundred people at that low price.

san francisco in 1850

Ships in San Francisco harbor, circa 1850-51, Public Domain image

The sad but true story regarding the Aerial Locomotive or Porter’s Locomotive is that it never, as a fact, got off the ground even though it was reported that about 200 people did sign up for the first flight. Author Jackson points out that there was never any record that the aircraft was ever actually built. Apparently, a journal at the time, called ” Sherwood’s Pocket Guide to California” , advised anyone of not opting for the air route. It’s also thought that perhaps a real scientist stepped forward and pointed out some of the glaring flaws to Porter’s design. Two problems with the Porter design had to do with air resistance itself which Rufus may not have figured into his equations. Wind direction was another matter altogether. The other problem had to do with pounds of weight per horse-power. In other words, it seems that most if not all of the early enthusiasts had a change of heart and opted for either the cross country route or the sea route of the steamers and sailing ships. To be certain, airships had been experimented with very early on in Europe as well as other places but the grand idea of Rufus Porter was decades ahead of itself. The type of air travel envisioned by Porter would actually occur almost a century later during the era of the mighty German airships such as the Hindenberg dirigible.

The Scientific American that was founded in 1845 by Rufus Porter still publishes to this very day. The first foreign publication went to the presses in 1890. Such world famous scientists as Albert Einstein contributed articles and the magazine is noted as being the oldest continuously published monthly magazine in America.

Rufus Porter passed away in 1884 and even though he actually sold his new magazine not long after it was founded remained an editor at the Scientific American until his death. In addition to his scientific experiments and his revolutionary airship idea, Porter was a well known New England artist. He was a very talented muralist and his works decorated over 150 inns and houses in New England. Some of his works were in monochrome and others in full color.

You will be interested in our related articles Nevada City California and Madame Mustache and the famous gold mining town of Bodie California.

The Rufus Porter Museum and Cultural Heritage Center showcases the contributions of Rufus Porter to American arts, literature, science, and industry. The museum building itself is quite historic, built in 1789 and is located at 67 N. High Street, Bridgton, Maine.

Sonoma County California Getaways / Bodega Bay and Guerneville

Bodega Bay And Guerneville

Having visited Sonoma County California several times, what many refer to as Wine Country, I can tell you there are manyl fun, picturesque and historic low cost side trips you can add to your visit. One of those is Bodega Bay which is due west of Santa Rosa on the coast. Take your camera because you can get some very good pics at Bodega Head which is a state park. Bodega Head is a short drive around the bay past the marinas and up over a hill. It attracts a lot of visitors and includes some very scenic walking paths. Park your car and have picnic because it’s got great coastal views.

bodega bay california

Crab Pots lined up at Bodega Bay Marina getting ready for crab season

On a clear day you can see all the way to Jenner in the north or down to Point Reyes in the south. If you drive north of Bodega Bay along Route 1, the Pacific Coast Highway, you’ll also pass by some terrific vistas with beautiful beaches. Good place to sit down for an hour or two and read a book. The Pacific coast at this particular spot is simply beautiful and if you decide to stay awhile, there’s some excellent choices among lodging in Bodega Bay. Because the town is right on the ocean, the weather in Bodega Bay is generally cooler than just a few miles inland. It’s one of the reasons why people flock there during the summer months.

Russian Fur Trappers

Bodega Bay was visited as early as 1809 by the Russians and they ventured even further south to the north part of San Francisco Bay as part of the Russian-American Fur Company. Their business was fur trapping and there was never an aim to colonize the area. The Spanish presence up to the San Francisco Bay area halted any further advance southward. The best reminder of the Russian occupation of the area today is farther north along the coast at Fort Ross which is now an excellent fort/museum and worth the drive up the coast.

lucas wharf at bodega bay

Lucas Wharf Fish House. Great place to buy fresh seafood.

Bodega Bay is also a large fishing port and often times you can purchase fresh crab at the marina dockside across the bay.. There’s also a terrific fresh seafood store on the water at Lucas Wharf which sells seafood brought in daily by local fishermen. If you’re looking for an excellent fresh seafood restaurant then Lucas Wharf is where you want to go. Excellent seafood dinners and moderately priced. It’s a casual restaurant perfect for a family. Also directly across the road from Bodega Bay’s marina you’ll be able to enjoy fresh chowder. It’s a popular tourist stop and the temperatures remain about 15 to 20 degrees cooler than inland. It’s an excellent respite from the summer heat that can invade inland Sonoma County.

The Russian River Town of Guerneville

Another nice stop in the summer, especially if you have kids in tow is Guerneville. Guerneville is located on River Road which runs west from Santa Rosa to the ocean. The town was a popular tourist destination for San Franciscans in the late 19th century. Guerneville was connected to the San Francisco ferry’s by the San Francisco and Great North Pacific Railroad.

the birds schoolhouse

Old schoolhouse in Bodega California seen in the movie "The Birds"

Even after rail service ended in the 1930’s Guerneville remained quite popular for people in the Bay Area who drove there by automobile. Jones Beach is in Guerneville on the Russian River where you can rent a kayak for a very small price and float on the river all day. It makes for a very relaxing time. The town also has one of the best pizza restaurants around. Guerneville is another great place to get great pictures..

There’s another interesting attraction in the town of Bodega which is about 5 miles inland from Bodega Bay. When you enter the town from the east, immediately to your left is a road up a hill which has what appears to be a restored old schoolhouse called The Potter School. Also in the town of Bodega is St. Theresa’s Church. Both of these sites were featured in Alfred Hitchcock’s classic move “The Birds“. While the setting for the movie plot line was Bodega Bay, much of the shooting was done in the town of Bodega itself. I can attest that on my many trips to both Bodega and Bodaga Bay the birds were quite friendly.

You’ll also be interested in our Trips Into History articles The Luther Burbank Gold Ridge Farm in Sabastopol California and the Tsunami of Crescent City California.

These are very historic California coast getaways and all stops make excellent  additions to your Sonoma Wine Country visit.

Wellington Washington Avalanche 1910

Who Would Have Thought?

Everyone has heard of avalanches and how dangerous they are. Avalanche disasters have taken place in the Alps and other very high mountain chains for centuries. Several years ago when I first read about a catastrophic event that occurred in 1910, I was quite surprised that such an avalanche disaster could occur involving a passenger train. Who would have thought that the most deadly avalanche in United States history would involve a passenger train? Who would have thought it would have happened in the 20th century?

wellington washington

Wellington Washington prior to the avalanche

It was a well known fact that mountain snow drifts and potential avalanches were a problem for the railroads. The Great Northern trains and their mountainous northwestern route was no excepetion. The subject really came front and center as early as the late 1860’s while the nation was completing the transcontinental railroad. The toughest segment of that line was the route over the Sierra Nevada Mountains and Donner Pass being constructed by the Central Pacific Railroad. During that time, the Central Pacific’s chief survey engineer, Theodore Judah, was the man tasked with the problem. Judah devised a series of tunnels which cut through various mountain sides. In addition to those, Judah had constructed a series of snow sheds. The snow sheds, while not really being constructed due to potential avalanches as such, were built to keep the snow from drifting over the rail tracks at certain points. The snow drifts in the Sierra Nevada range in the vicinity of Donner Pass were legendary. If the Central Pacific was to offer reliable service, the snow drift problem had to be solved. The tunnels and snow sheds seemed to be the solution.

The tunnels and snow sheds, while rebuilt, are still in use today on this major rail line. Today, this route is traversed by Amtrak’s California Zephyr which runs on a daily basis between Chicago Illinois and Emeryville California, just across the bay from San Francisco.

great northern railway

Great Northern Railway, 1914

The Magnificent Route of the Great Northern Railway

The Great Northern Railway was a transcontinental route that was built out from the twin Cities of Minnesota all the way westward to Seattle Washington. Needless to say, this route was quite scenic. One of it’s most scenic areas was just to the south of Glacier National Park. In fact, the Great Northern Railway marketed this National Park on posters, newspaper advertisements, etc. Glacier National Park was a tourist draw and it brought many passengers to the Great Northern trains. The Great Northern Railway promoted Glacier National Park much the way the Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe promoted the southwest, the Grand Canyon and the Harvey Houses. During the days before the automobile, the train was the way for curious travelers to see the wonders of the west. Western states saw a big boom in travel just after the turn of the century. People who could afford it took the train.

Rail Lines Through the Mountains

The Great Northern Railway overcame the mountain difficulties much the same way as the Central Pacific. They built a lot of tunnels. The Cascade Mountains of Washington state could dump a lot of snow. Avalanches were a real threat in the Cascades and they stopped traffic along the line many times. Avalanches are somewhat hard to predict. Snow can be sent sliding down a mountain side by a sound.

wellington washington avalanche

Wellington Washington Avalanche debris

A train whistle, a gun shot, thunder, all can start the snow moving. The winter of 1910 was a heavy snow season and the Great Northern trains had to contend with several severe avalanches.

February 1910

February 1910 was a month of heavy snowfall in the Cascades. For nine continuous days in late February, the small railroad town of Wellington Washington received very heavy snows. Often it was blizzard conditions. The work crews at Wellington worked hard just to keep the tracks open. Extra crews were added. Reports were that about a foot of snow was falling every day and on one day alone, an enormous eleven feet. Interestingly enough, the railway used snow plows to try to clear the tracks. The snow plows were essentially locomotives with a fan blade on the front end to clear away snow. While these snow blowers as such could be quite effective, the amounts falling in the Cascade Mountains in late February 1910 were often too much for even these powerful engines. The snow plows would become stuck. Their blades clogged with snow. The snow was piling up that high and that fast. The snow plows effectiveness did have it’s limits.

March 1, 1910

Like most historic disasters, what occurred in Wellington Washington on March 1, 1910 was a combination of events that ended in disaster. If just one circumstance may have been different, the end result probably would have been much less deadly.

Due to avalanches along the area near Stevens Pass, just to the west of Wellington, train traffic was at a standstill. Two trains, a passenger train and a fast mail train running from Spokane to Seattle, were both stopped at Wellington. They could go no further west due to track blockage. To give you some perspective of the blizzard, the passenger train had been in Wellington for about a week. That train had been backed up into the Cascade Tunnel which was just east of Wellington.

Great Northern snowplow locomotive

The tunnel provided some relief from the elements. After several more snow slides occurred, many of the passengers demanded that the train be brought back out of the tunnel for fear of being trapped inside if a snow slide should cover the tunnel entrance. The passengers were panicking. This the railroad did although they originally backed into the tunnel to avoid avalanches in the first place.

After the train emerged from the safety of the tunnel, it could go no further than the depot at Wellington. There it stayed behind the mail train. The passenger coaches were now below a mountain ridge on one side and the Tye Creek on the other. The avalanche that ended up sweeping both the Spokane Express and the Fast Mail train down a 150 foot ravine happened in the middle of the night of March 1st. What caused this massive Wellington avalanche that destroyed two trains is not entirely certain. Weather in the high Cascades can be tricky. Along with the snowfall was a lightening storm. Most believe today that either the thunder or lightening or both was the cause of the snow slide. Along with the trains, a portion of Wellington itself was thrown down the mountain side. It was later estimated that a ten foot high and half a mile wide snow drift slid through the town and pushed the two trains down the ravine.

The Next Day

The mail train did not carry passengers and not all passengers were on the Spokane Express train when the great avalanche struck. Some had gone into Wellington for food and a degree of relaxation. How many days can one be stuck in a train car? Unfortunately, being off the train didn’t prevent some casualties. It was thought that at the time of the avalanche, 40 passengers were on the train in addition to 30 railroad workmen who had been sleeping in some of the coach cars. The other fatalities would have been people, both passengers and workmen, on the ground in Wellington.

Relief trains had a difficult time trying to reach Wellington disaster site because of blocked tracks. The rescue effort had to be carried on by foot. The official death toll was put at 96. There was speculation that the death toll may have been higher due to extra railroad workmen being involved.

cascade railroad tunnel

New Cascade Tunnel built of concrete, 1929

There were a great many additional people around Wellington at that time working to clear the tracks.

Who Was to Blame?

Railway history was changed forever after March 1910. When this tragedy was investigated, there were many questions to answer. What could the Great Northern Railway have done to prevent what occurred? Was it unavoidable or was it just a random act of nature?

There was no doubt that the Great Northern took precautionary measures by backing the passenger train into the Cascade Tunnel. This was done to try to avoid what actually did happen. The passengers were also correct in being concerned that the tunnel entrances themselves might be sealed by an avalanche. Their begging that the train be moved forward out of the tunnel was not unreasonable. The fact that the passenger train could not have moved more forward because of the stuck mail train in front of it was nobody’s fault. It was just a fact of the situation. The Great Northern could have evacuated the train completely and had all passengers lodged in the town. This may have been impracticable due to available accommodations and as we later saw, the small town of Wellington was largely swept away as well. In hindsight, over one hundred years later, it seems that the best route of action would have been for the passenger train to have remained in the Cascade Tunnel. There would have been casualties from anyone staying in the town, but the disaster probably would have been much less fatal. By the same token, the passenger’s concern of being trapped in the tunnel was also rational. The Wellington Washington avalanche disaster of March 1, 1910 appears to have been an unfortunate chain of events that put many people in harms way simply because the options were few and the anxiety was great.

The very last of the bodies were not retrieved until some five months later. The Great Northern Railway began building several concrete snow shelters in October of that year. Ironically, the summer of 1910, after a rough snowy winter, also saw one of the worst forest fires in United States history. The areas of Montana, northern Wyoming, Idaho and British Columbia were devastated during what was called the Great Fires of 1910. It was also referred to as the Big Blowup or the Big Burn. That fire destroyed about three million acres and killed 87 people. The fire didn’t end until a cold front finally brought in steady rains.

Wellington Washington Today

The Great Northern Railway renamed the town to “Tye” not long after the tragedy. Tye is the name of the nearby creek. Today, there is no town or settlement at the site. A new tunnel was constructed in 1929 on another grade that is still in use today. The grade of the old route of the Great Northern Railway has been turned into a day use hiking trail. The “Iron Goat Trail”, was named after the logo of a goat used by the old Great Northern Railway. The trail is closed to bicycles, stock animals and motor vehicles. You can reach the trail head off the Old Cascade Highway at it’s intersection with the USFS Road 050. Turn right on the USFS road and drive forward to the trail head parking lot. The three mile long lower grade between Scenic and Martin Creek is free of barriers and wheelchair-accessible.Much more information is on the trail’s web site www.irongoat.org/hike.html The trail obviously goes through some very scenic country and is a popular route for hikers.

(Photos from the public domain)