Blair Koostra’s Walla Walla Valley Railway

I first saw this model railway in Great Model Railroads. Since then I’d actually forgotten about it and would have but the Eric Gagnon just reminded me of it. On Eric’s recommendation I thought I’d see if the railway was online and I found that Blair does have a website for the railway:

What’s really super neat about this Blair’s modelling and his website is that the Walla Walla Valley was a little shortline that has a remarkably similar story to my own beloved PEI Railway and the equally hard to resist, well to me, Dominion Atlantic. While we hauled potatoes here on the Island the WWVR made it’s living pulling trains of fresh fruit in Washington State. Take this quote for instance:

The perishable traffic came in waves; a succession of harvests keeping the railroad busy from late May until into late November. Peas were the first crop to come in, a 6-8 week long harvest beginning in late May. As the peas were tapering off, the Cherries became ripe, with harvest lasting until mid-July. Wheat was harvested during July and August, and then the railroad caught a short breath before the prunes were ready in early August, a run lasting typically three to five weeks. Then, apples took over in late August, running until mid-September. To close off the year, sugar beets bound primarily for the Utah & Idaho sugar factory in Toppenish were shipped in a campaign beginning in mid-September and lasting up to two and a half months.

The part of Blair’s site that really starts to shine is where he starts to get into analysis of traffic patterns on the WWV. Since I really enjoy analysis of these kinds of trends (luckily it’s also what I do for a living too) I found this page to be really interesting:

I hope he’ll forgive me but I wanted to post one of his charts to show how he is showing traffic patterns on the line:

And the quote that goes with the chart:

Here’s 1969. Pretty sad in terms of carloads. But you’ll see consistencies with 1959 in terms of frozen food and canned goods largely moving steadily all year long. The winter wheat is harvested and moves in July and August, the fruit, Prunes and Cherries first, then the Apples last, move in August, September and October, with a few straggling carloads into December. The sugar beets again kick in in mid-autumn and finish up Early December.

This is the kind of research I am trying to work on for the PEI railway and is a window into the types of trends I’m looking forward to reporting on. I’m lucky to have resources like the notebooks I’ve been rambling on about and the car movements that are documented within those pages.

If you’ve made it this far you really deserve to treat yourself to a visit to Blair’s website. Here’s the link to the root of the site:

I’ll add this to my sidebar of links too in a few minutes.

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