Sunday, January 23, 2011

James Hannum's two books about the history of local railroads


I was looking for a particular piece of history that I couldn't easily find online, so I quickly checked out every book at the Olympia Timberland Library that had any relevance at all to railroads in Thurston County. Two of them -- South Puget Sound Railroad Mania (a goofy name for a great book) and Gone But Not Forgotten: Abandoned Railroads of Thurston County, Washington -- are insanely good books.

I'm pretty sure I'd brought home the first book before at some point, but I don't think I gave it enough time to really realize how good it was.

In a lot of ways, the story of the South Sound can be told through transportation and by railroads. The dozens and dozens of timberland railroads explored by both books show how we really did interact with our landscape in a much different fashion in the past. Each small railroad was a different timber operator in a different corner of the region. Instead of residential homes on 5 and 10 acre parcels and hobby farms, we had a semi-industrialized, narrow gauge sort of world.

I was mostly interested in the lines that used to and still do cross Olympia. Going through the books over the weekend, I found downtown Olympia at one point had three different railroad stations.
  • Anyone that has seen the famous Olympia birds eye view knows that a railroad used to go down the west side of what is now Capitol Lake. Where 4th Avenue crosses that old railroad, there was a railroad station.
  • Most folks could also guess that the old white building between the railroad tracks and Columbia, down by Amanda Smith Way, was also a railroad station.
  • Most surprising to me, but now sort of obvious now that I realized how close it was to an existing railway line, but the Olympic Outfitters building used to be a railroad station for the Northern Union (thanks Andrew!) Pacific. The main line ran down Jefferson St. (as it does now) to the port, but a couple of lines diverged at Jefferson and 7th, ran in the middle of the block and ended at the station.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Trying not to get worked up by the metonymy of Olympia this year

At least not on the blog. Twitter is where I'm letting off steam. But, there are a few things worth mentioning.

1. Chad Akins has surrendered. While he still wishes we could "earn our star," I think we should earn it not by letting the state off the hook for who they elect and where they spend their official time.

2. The Seattle PI is doing a very bad job with their Olympia Watch (boooo, no link for you), Dominic Holden at the Stranger has had one offense (gets off with a warning), and the Spokesman Review's Jim Camden is doing a super job. WA Lege is an awesome way to put it. That's a big difference when Rich Roessler ran their Eye on Olympia blog.

You know, I just realized Slog is tagging all of their state capitol posts as "Olympia." Now they're just as bad as the PI.

3. Bully to all the folks on twitter using #waleg. You are my heroes.

The Old Road that was Tumwater

Following up on my other post about Tumwater, one I've been meaning to do for awhile now.

When people talk about the old Tumwater that was killed by I5, they mean the one that was centered along the Deschutes waterway (the same termonlolgy we use to talk about the Duwamish Waterway) and this road:


View Larger Map

This side street down the bluff in the South Capitol Neighborhood is all that remains for the old main road that went directly from Tumwater (New Market) to Olympia (Smithfield).

Tumwater and Olympia Brewery from UW Library:



Here is how the road looks when you overlay (from this map from the Washington Digital Archives) it with modern Tumwater.


And, just because I used Google Earth, here it is at a lower angle.


The main difference to me is obviously Interstate 5's impact, cutting directly through the landscape. Other than that, its striking how much fill has been added. The center of the old waterway is now fill, for instance.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

If we call the basketball rivalry, the Capital Cup, what should we call a local soccer competition?

Since Brandon Rosage is now doing a sports podcast locally, made me think about how I've been meaning to write more about local sports.

There is at least an exhibition competition between Evergreen State and Saint Martins, but there is no similar series between the local Olympia-area soccer teams. So, for the time being, I'm going to start keeping a ranking of the local college soccer teams.

The basic ranking will the point-per-game for league games between the men and women teams of both Evergreen and Saint Martins and the mens team at South Puget Sound (no womens teams). I know this is a bit late, since the college soccer schedule ended months ago, but I'm going to keep closer track next year, on a week to week basis.

Here's this year winner of the cup to be named later, the Saint Martins women, who earned just better than a tie per league game, with the Evergreen Men coming in second.

Games Pts PPG
SMW 14 21 1.5
EM 14 14 1
SMM 10 6 0.6
EW 9 0 0
SPSCC 13 0 0

So, what should we name it?

And, if you were wondering, this is my first post about what I want to call "real sport," which in this case isn't the MLS Sounders, but local college soccer teams that we all should pay closer attention to. And, maybe this ranking is a way of putting a better focus on the local college scene.

Just realized I tried something like this on Olyblog a few years ago and I called the cup the "Tolmie Cup," after a Brit who hung around here a hundred years or so ago. Maybe that's still a good idea, but I'm willing to take suggestions.