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GUARDING AGAINST THE AVALANCHE
WILLIAM THORNTON PROSSER
N June 1910 the TECHNICAL WORLD James J. Hill, who declared that the MAGAZINE told of one of the most tracks must be rendered absolutely safe tragic and remarkable railway no matter what the cost, they finally de
disasters ever recorded in the termined upon the erection of reinforced | United States; how an avalanche concrete snowsheds protecting all the swept down the precipitous sides of Wellington danger zone. These have the Cascade mountains at the little just been finished at a cost of $500,000. town of Wellington, Washington, and Construction of these solid masonry carried a Great Northern passenger train structures for a distance of 3,300 feet is with almost one hundred passengers regarded as a great accomplishment in aboard, to a terrible fate in the depths of the engineering world, for they are not the canyon below. To prevent the recur- merely coverings built over the tracksrence of such a catastrophe was the they are indestructible hoods set into the problem that confronted the Great mountain side. Future avalanches may Northern's engineers, and spurred on by thunder into the canyon, far below, all
the only way to render the tracks immune. from such disaster was to set the rails back into the mountain, and erect coverings that no avalanche could budge.
“We must make the mountain district impregnable against snowslides, even if an outlay of millions of dollars is necessary," declared Mr. Hill emphatically, and aside from the concrete sheds the railway magnate ordered more than $1,000,000 spent in an effort to prevent blockades and delays to through trains during the winter months. Two miles of the main line near Berne, east of Wellington, are in process of rebuilding, new buildings were erected at Wellington, a water supply system is being installed between Wellington and Scenic, and at Wellington a rendezvous has been made for the scores of men that each winter fight the snow king in the Cascades. From this point men may be rushed down the west side of the mountains or through the Cascade tunnel to the eastern slope.
Not before in the world have reinforced concrete snowsheds been constructed to protect a long stretch of track, as in the Cascades. Preparatory to the
building of them and the erection of THE STEEL RODS READY FOR THEIR CONCRETE some wooden sheds the Great Northern
placed orders for 11,000,000 feet of lum
ber. In the concrete work 30,000 barrels they please, but they will slide right over of cement were used, with 2,400 tons of the concrete tubes, and trains may pass steel as reinforcement. Relays of men back and forth within them as safely as worked night and day rushing the conpassenger traffic is carried on beneath the struction, as haste was necessary if the Hudson river in the McAdoo tunnels, or great task was to be completed before beneath the Detroit river.
. the winter snows again brought danger. It was a west bound passenger train The mountain side of solid rock was stalled at Wellington by snow-blockades excavated for fifty feet back from the that was swept to destruction at the be- old tracks. For most of the 3,300 feet ginning of last March, together with four the concrete construction rests against electric locomotives used in the Cascade the mountain wall. The concrete roof, tunnel, which had been recently electri- ten inches thick and sloping one foot fied, and a part of the town of Welling- in five, is twenty-two feet above the ton. For weeks and weeks workingmen double tracks of the main line. Reincontinued to take out the bodies of the forced concrete pillars set ten feet apart victims, some buried under fifty feet of in the walls give additional support. snow and debris. Soon after traffic was Great Northern engineers declare that resumed Mr. Hill, chairman of the Great these so-called sheds will last for all time Northern board of directors, with L. W. to come, and that danger is virtually Hill, his son, president of the road, L. C. eliminated. Each year snows and blockGilman, assistant to the president, and ades made traffic extremely difficult to A. H. Hogeland, chief engineer of the maintain through the Cascade district, system, visited the mountain division, but next winter with the improvements and studied the problem from all angles. that have been made the operating offi
Observation convinced the officials that cials expect less trouble than ever before.