BNSF recognizes Pasco’s past, present and future ties to freight rail with first Heritage Community Award


Zak Andersen, BNSF Vice President Corporate Relations with Pasco Mayor Matt Watkins

BNSF Railway has honored Pasco, Wash. with the inaugural BNSF Railway Heritage Community Award. The award recognizes towns that embrace their past, present and future ties to freight rail.

 

“BNSF is proud to celebrate our shared history, future and partnership with the city of Pasco,” said Zak Andersen, Vice-President Corporate Relations for BNSF. “Together we’ve grown the economy of the Pacific Northwest for over 100 years, and I can’t think of a better fit for the first Heritage Community Award than Pasco.”


Andersen was joined by Pasco Mayor Matt Watkins and members of the Pasco City Council for a presentation of the award on July 2. The award comes in the form of a model BNSF locomotive.


Andersen, left, presents a $10,000 BNSF Railway Foundation check to Brian Ace, Executive Director for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Benton and Franklin Counties, joined by U.S. Congressman Dan Newhouse.


Ace presents artwork painted by Boys and Girls Club participants.


The evening began with the presentation of a $10,000 BNSF Railway Foundation check to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Benton and Franklin Counties. In addition to financial support, BNSF employees in Pasco and across the rail network have donated countless volunteer hours to the organization. Brian Ace, executive director of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Benton and Franklin Counties, thanked BNSF with a piece of artwork, hand painted by kids from the clubs.


U.S. Congressman Dan Newhouse also joined in the festivities, recognizing BNSF for its continued commitment to Pasco and to the Boys and Girls Clubs.


Dinner was served aboard BNSF business cars as the Columbia River passed by in the background. Guests included members of the Pasco business community, elected officials and senior BNSF leaders.


“I want to thank BNSF for their wonderful hospitality in hosting myself, councilmembers and other community leaders for a wonderful meal and spectacular ride through our region. Your additional donation to the Boys and Girls Clubs as well as rides for youth and community members who have never ridden on a train was also a great demonstration of your commitment to Pasco and the Tri-Cities,” said Watkins. “The model BNSF engine was a wonderful gift and will be displayed proudly at Pasco City Hall,” he added.

 

Pasco was a railroad town from the outset. Virgil G. Bogue, principal engineer of Northern Pacific (NP) Railway’s Cascade construction branch, named the town in 1881. Years earlier, Bogue had helped build a railroad in South America and named Pasco after Cerro de Pasco, located in the Andes in Peru. Pasco was established as an NP station in 1884 and incorporated on Sept. 3, 1891.

 

In 1889, Pasco made a bold bid to become the state capital. Although unsuccessful, the town of less than 500 inhabitants achieved statewide publicity for its efforts.

 

In 1887, NP opened a temporary railroad bridge across the Columbia River from Pasco to Kennewick. Prior to the bridge’s completion, steamboats ferried cars and locomotives across the river. A permanent bridge was completed in 1888. The Pasco-Kennewick railroad bridge has been rebuilt and is now used by BNSF.

 

One of the most valuable early commodities shipped by the railroad was silk, which was most prominent in the 1920s and declined in the 1930s. NP also shipped crops grown in the area, including wheat and potatoes. Passenger trains, including NP’s premier passenger train, the North Coast Limited, frequented Pasco as well.

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BNSF recognizes Pasco’s past, present and future ties to freight rail with first Heritage Community Award

Retired Chrysler car designer uses creative skills to recreate 1952 Raton Pass in his basement

When Ernie Barry of Northport, Mich., retired in 2001, he decided to devote the cold winter months to his favorite hobby: model railroading.


“Like almost anyone in the hobby, I started with an electric train around a Christmas tree when I was five or six years old,” said Barry, who worked as the director of advanced design at Chrysler and has a fine arts and design background. During his career, he designed the 1980 Chrysler Córdoba and Dodge Mirada. Some of his other achievements include developing concepts and vehicle architecture for the Dodge Intrepid, Chrysler Concorde and the current Chrysler 300 as well as leading the design program for the Dodge Viper from concept car up to the 2000 production vehicle.


His impressive layout depicts the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway at Raton, N.M., in 1952. “I’ve always been interested in the Santa Fe because of its Warbonnet paint scheme,” he said. The Warbonnet scheme, designed by General Motors’ Leland Knickerbocker, features a red “bonnet” on the front of the locomotive bordered by yellow and black pinstripes.

When he started his hobby, Barry read an article about the Raton Pass and researched its creation. The famous pass was ATSF’s main route through the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in the late 19th century. The area interested Barry so much, he decided to make it the setting for his dream layout. He chose the year 1952 because of its importance in the evolution of the railroad. “It’s an era people like to model because it represents the transition from steam to diesel,” he explained.

Barry, who is a member of the Santa Fe Railway Historical and Modeling Society, designed his current home’s 30-by-40-foot basement with his model railroad in mind. “When designing and building our retirement home, I was also planning the railroad, which necessitated asking the builder to move a support column and a major ceiling beam, turning a three-season room into a year-round room to get more basement space.”


He uses that space to the fullest. The layout is built close to eye level and stepstools are needed to fully view higher sections. It has 550 feet of track, 125 switches and 18 blocks governed by signals. Four of the signals are semaphore and the rest are searchlight.


When trains enter a tunnel on one end of the layout, they travel through a helix and arrive at a lower level. There are black and white cameras inside the hidden level to help keep track of the trains. The layout contains around 50 sound-equipped steam and diesel engines, 18 operating trains and 300 freight and passenger cars at any given time. It also has around 100 buildings and railroad structures.


Barry is part of a local community of railroad enthusiasts who gather once a week in the winter to operate layouts. The group meets at a different member’s house each week.
When Barry hosts, the group operates for about three hours and runs up to 18 train assignments. He has a dispatcher station in a separate room and each town in the layout has a phone connected to a dispatcher. Train movements are controlled by verbal train orders and signals.

Barry has modified the way his layout runs on those nights in order to accommodate the group. Although it’s not entirely historically accurate, the modifications create a more fun operating experience. “By 1952, one of the tunnels [near the Pass] had been sealed off, but on this railroad I decided to keep it open. We run extra passenger trains as a way to keep the dispatcher on his toes. He has to move freight out of the way as passenger trains come on stage.”


Barry has visited Raton Pass several times over the years. “I’ve been over the pass by car and Amtrak,” he said. “I’ve gotten tons of photographs.” He has also used his trips as opportunities to get authentic materials for his layout.


“I picked up soil from Raton. I bought plastic containers and mailed them to myself, but one problem with using real soil is the lighting in the room isn’t the same as real sunlight, so you have to use lighter shades.”

His favorite part of building the layout is creating the scenery. “Being a designer, I’m real hands-on. I like to build things. I painted all of the backdrops and I’ve done a lot of the buildings in Raton.”


Jim Ebejer, a friend of Barry, took this series of photos over a period of two days. “It’s not easy to photograph a model railroad,” Barry said. “The lighting isn’t good for photography and there’s not a lot of room for equipment. It took him two days to get these shots right.”

 

Barry has been working on the layout for about 20 hours a week during the winter months for the past 14 years and says his layout will never be complete. His next project is a scratch build of Raton station using the original plans. The station, shown below, was built in 1903 in the Mission Revival architectural style for the Santa Fe. It currently serves Amtrak trains.

Model railroad photos courtesy of Jim Ebejer.

Raton station photo released to public domain by Magicninja

 

Do you have a model railroad relating to BNSF or its predecessors that you’d like to show off? We’d love to see it! Email photos and details to communitymanager@bnsf.com.

 

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Retired Chrysler car designer uses creative skills to recreate 1952 Raton Pass in his basement

Employees in Air National Guard take BNSF representative on “boss lift” ride on C-130

BNSF locomotive engineer William Perry, who works out of Great Falls, Mont., is also a staff sergeant in the Air National Guard. Sonja Grigsby works at BNSF’s headquarters in Fort Worth and administers long-term absences for employees in the Guard and Reserves who are on military orders. Grigsby’s work is important to the many BNSF employees like Perry who are also serving in the U.S. military.

 

On June 6, Perry took advantage of a program organized by Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) to thank Grigsby for her work. It’s called a “boss lift.” Guard and Reserve employees nominate representatives of their employers to take a ride on a C-130 transport plane, so they can experience what military employees do during training and deployments.


“This was my chance to extend to Ms. Grigsby what I deem a necessary professional courtesy, a formal invite of gratitude, for her dedication and help over the years in assisting me with my Military Leave,” explained Perry. “Not many employees can temporarily leave a company job, last minute, for an undetermined amount of time, in a military status, without worry or fear of reprisal. It is truly a great feeling knowing that the company I work for offers an unwavering level of support to all military employees who serve as citizen soldiers within their respective state and our country as members of the National Guard and Reserve.”


“BNSF provides a partnership with employees. Employees appreciate the help we provide just as much as we appreciate what they’re doing,” added Grigsby. “It was nice to be honored with a nomination. The entire experience couldn’t have been any better.”

Grigsby traveled from Texas to Montana to take the ride along with Perry and Tech Sgt. Michael Gorecki who is a BNSF locomotive engineer and Reservist.

 

More at the Great Falls Tribune website

 

About the photos: At top, view of another boss lift plane from the inside of C-130. At bottom, Grigsby and Gorecki aboard the C-130 transport plane.
 

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Employees in Air National Guard take BNSF representative on “boss lift” ride on C-130

BNSF hosts first-ever “First Responder Express” in San Bernardino, Calif.

 

Nearly 200 San Bernardino police officers, firefighters, support personnel and their families took part in the trip aboard several BNSF business cars. The event featured refreshments, a face painter and a balloon artist for the kids (and the young at heart!). BNSF special agents based in San Bernardino were also on board to distribute badge stickers and talk about the importance of safety around rail crossings.

 

The ride departed from the San Bernardino Metrolink commuter rail platform and traveled to Summit on Cajon Pass before returning to the station, providing sunset views of an area that’s usually inaccessible to the general public.

 

BNSF also presented two $5,000 checks, one to the San Bernardino Police Foundation and the other to the San Bernardino Fire Explorers, which provides an opportunity for young people to learn more about firefighting.

 

Andrew Johnsen, assistant vice president, Community Affairs, noted, “BNSF is proud to partner with these dedicated public servants who keep our railroad and our community safe every day. We also thank their families for supporting them in their important work.”

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BNSF hosts first-ever “First Responder Express” in San Bernardino, Calif.

American farmers and BNSF go back a long way

American agriculture and BNSF Railway go back a long way. In the early years, farmers and the railroad depended on each other and survived and flourished because of each other. Today, that relationship still powers BNSF. But we not only work together with farmers, many of us ARE farmers. Because so many of our people have a deep connection to agriculture, they understand the challenges farmers face. That connection drives them to do their best for our agricultural customers every day when they come in to work. Agriculture matters at BNSF.
 


 

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American farmers and BNSF go back a long way

BNSF Railway Police offer reward in Byhalia, Miss. train shooting incident

BNSF is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to arrest and conviction of the person who shot at a train in the late afternoon on May 20 in Byhalia, Miss.  The incident took place at the rail crossing on Highway 309 near East Railroad Avenue.  The shooter is believed to be driving a gold or pewter Pontiac Grand Prix or similar vehicle. Please call (800) 832-5452 if you have information about this case.

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BNSF Railway Police offer reward in Byhalia, Miss. train shooting incident

Deep personal connections to agriculture at BNSF

Agriculture matters to BNSF Railway. At BNSF we not only work together with farmers, many of us ARE farmers. Many of our employees grew up on a farm and still harbor cherished memories of the farming life. Others are still farming today.

In this video we meet BNSF Chief Financial Officer Julie Piggott, who comes from a farming family in North Dakota, and Locomotive Engineer John Knierim, who grows wheat, peas, lentils, canola and corn in Montana. “I remember when we were young we used to take lunch out to my dad every day while he was working the harvest so he could have something to eat, and we’d put a blanket down and treat it like a picnic,” Pigott says.

Piggott, Knierim and many others at BNSF bring their deep personal connection to farming in to work every day and it drives them to do their best for our agricultural customers.

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Deep personal connections to agriculture at BNSF

Video: The American farmer and BNSF Railway

American agriculture and BNSF Railway go back a long way. In the early years, farmers and the railroad depended on each other and survived and flourished because of each other. Today, that relationship still powers BNSF. The evolution of American agriculture has driven the U.S. food supply chain to become the most productive in the world, and we at BNSF are proud to help get American farms’ bounty to tables around the world. 

Many of our employees grew up on farms and understand the challenges our agricultural customers face. Driven by that personal connection, they do their very best for our agricultural customers every day when they come in to work. Agriculture matters at BNSF.

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Video: The American farmer and BNSF Railway

Northern Pacific Railway depot in Wallace, Idaho



The Northern Pacific (NP) Railway depot in Wallace, Idaho was built in 1901. The chateau-style building was constructed using bricks imported from China at a total cost of approximately $9,000. The depot opened on May 20, 1902. The following year, President Theodore Roosevelt visited the town and gave a speech at the NP station. 

 

The depot was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. In 1986, the depot had to be moved because of construction of a new highway. Many citizens watched the event, which is celebrated every year on the day before Mother’s Day with the Depot Days Classic Car & Motorcycle Show

 

The depot has since been converted into the Northern Pacific Railroad Museum, which is open from April until the end of October. The depot museum, shown in the above photo courtesy of the Northern Pacific Ralroad Museum, is at 219 Sixth Street in downtown Wallace, Idaho. 

 

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Northern Pacific Railway depot in Wallace, Idaho

Warren Buffett stops by BNSF's "Berkyville" model train display at Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting

Carl Ice, Warren Buffett and Matt Rose visit BNSF's booth at Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting on May 1, 2015.

BNSF Railway President and CEO Carl Ice, Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett and BNSF Railway Executive Chairman Matt Rose visit the BNSF booth and model railroad display “Berkyville” at the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholders meeting in Omaha, Neb. on May 1. Up to 44,000 people are expected to attend this year’s meeting. BNSF became a Berkshire Hathaway company in 2010.

Carl Ice, Warren Buffett and Matt Rose visit BNSF's "Berkyville" model train display.

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Warren Buffett stops by BNSF's "Berkyville" model train display at Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting

BNSF releases 2014 Annual Review

BNSF manifest train in Deschutes River Valley, Oregon.

In 2014, BNSF achieved its best-ever year for employee safety. We faced service challenges on capacity-constrained parts of our rail network, and responded with a record capital investment of $5.5 billion to expand capacity. Here’s an in-depth look at our commitment to growth, increasing capacity, safety, the environment, our employees and our communities.

2014 Annual Review

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BNSF releases 2014 Annual Review

North Coast Limited offered premier passenger service

 

“Off to see the Northwest, Good-bye all! Another happy vacation party heads for scenic Yellowstone Park, Rocky Mountains, Rainier Park, and other nationally famous regions. Their train, the North Coast Limited runs between Chicago, Seattle, Tacoma, and Portland via the Northern Pacific Railway.”

 

The above picture and caption showcase the commercial appeal of Northern Pacific’s (NP) premier passenger train, the North Coast Limited (NCL).

 

Departing from St. Paul, Minn., on April 29, 1900, the NCL made its maiden voyage to Puget Sound as one of the first named trains in the United States. It was joined in the Midwest-Pacific Northwest trade by Milwaukee Road’s Olympian in 1911 and Great Northern Railway’s Empire Builder in 1929.

 

Initially, the NCL operated in a limited capacity during the summer season. NP, however, quickly saw the popular appeal of the NCL and promoted the train to year-round service.

 

While the NCL achieved success in the early 1900s, it trailed the Empire Builder and Olympian in passenger occupancy rates later in the century until the streamliner era took hold of the industry in the 1940s.

 

The NCL benefited the most from the improvements of the era when Northern Pacific spent $65 million right after World War II to update the train’s equipment with lightweight, streamlined equipment from Pullman-Standard. At the same time, the train was equipped with new diesel-electric locomotives.

 

Extensive aesthetic upgrades in the mid-1950s included Vista-Dome cars, which offered passengers a panoramic view. The new cars’ sleek two-tone green exterior was complimented by a single white pinstripe. The interiors depicted stunning scenes of the Northern Plains and the Cascades Range.

 

While the artful elegance of the NCL certainly attracted customers to the railroad, the dining car service set the train apart from its competitors. Added in 1955, the Traveler’s Rest buffet lounge cars became the talk of the industry. Named after Lewis and Clark’s favorite campsite, the cars put the NCL once again into the forefront of the luxury train travel experience, which supported Northern Pacific’s efforts to continue long-distance rail passenger service in the grand manner.

 

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North Coast Limited offered premier passenger service

BNSF predecessors helped promote national parks

It’s National Park Week!  Did you know one of BNSF’s predecessor railroads helped create a national park?

 

Great Northern Railway (GN) helped to promote legislation to designate Glacier National Park in 1910. In 1913 Glacier Park Company, a subsidiary of GN, built Glacier Park Lodge. The lodge was the first in a series of hotels that served visitors brought to the park by the railroad.

 

Glacier National Park was a major attraction given its central location to “Dude Ranch Country” in Montana and Canada. Travelers could board the renowned Empire Builder passenger train for a scenic ride along the southern border of the park. This brochure published by GN highlights the attractions of visiting dude ranches.  

 

Learn more about GN and Glacier National Park in this video

 

 

 

President Franklin D. Roosevelt visited the Two Medicine Valley in Glacier National Park on Aug. 5, 1934, when he gave a national radio address in which he expressed the wish that “every American, old and young, could have been with me today.”  

 

 

 

Another BNSF predecessor, Northern Pacific Railway (NP) played a major role in attracting early visitors to Yellowstone National Park. NP began rail service to Yellowstone in 1883 and shortly afterward began a “Wonderland” advertising campaign based on Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland.” This photo shows one of the brochures produced as part of the advertising campaign. It included a fictional letter written by a grownup Alice traveling on an NP train. 

 

Northern Pacific Railway brochure photo courtesy of National Park Service.

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BNSF predecessors helped promote national parks

Industrial Products employees lend a helping hand to Fort Worth community organizations

BNSF employee Levi Graci at Tarrant County Animal Shelter

BNSF's Industrial Products business unit fanned out across Fort Worth, Texas to spend the day helping a good cause on April 21. The annual volunteer event, Day of Caring, brought 170 employees from all around BNSF's rail network to 10 community organizations that needed a helping hand. "This special day demonstrates BNSF's commitment to making a difference in our community," said Dave Garin, group vice president of Industrial Products. 

Employees spent the day working at Tarrant County Animal Shelter, Habitat for Humanity, the Northside Boys & Girls Club and other locations, completing jobs like caring for dogs, building benches, painting walls, planting flowers and trimming shrubs.

Jim Cherry and David Alegria build benches for a pavilion at Casa, Inc.

Jim Cherry and David Alegria build benches for a pavilion at Casa, Inc., a housing facility for low-income elderly and people with disabilities.

 Employees tackle an overgrown garden at the Northside Boys and Girls Club .

Employees tackle an overgrown garden at the Northside Boys and Girls Club before mulching and planting flowers.

Employees assemble prosthetic hands at Enabling the Future.

BNSF employees assemble prosthetic hands created with 3D printing technology at Enabling the Future.

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Industrial Products employees lend a helping hand to Fort Worth community organizations

BNSF honors Employees of the Year for 2014

BNSF's Safety Employees of the Year for 2014

BNSF recognized a special group of employees for their outstanding achievements in 2014 at an awards ceremony on April 13 in Fort Worth, Texas. BNSF’s annual Employees of the Year event recognizes employees who embody the company’s vision and values. Their achievements positively impact BNSF customers, fellow employees, owners and the communities served by BNSF. Of the 48,000 team members across the company some 100 employees received this special recognition.
 
“Our Employees of the Year recognition is a way to thank our people for truly exceptional efforts and results. I’m grateful for their hard work and dedication. From rendering aid in an emergency to implementing business processes that will forever make our railroad better, this distinctive group of employees deserves this special recognition and BNSF’s gratitude,” said Carl Ice, BNSF president and chief executive officer. “All of the men and women who work for BNSF do so with commitment and dedication. Every day, all year long, they bring incredible focus and perseverance to BNSF’s goal of serving our customers and delivering on the important role we play in moving our global economy forward.”
 
This year’s award recipients’ actions span a wide range of achievements and reflect valuable contributions to some of BNSF’s most important initiatives. Examples of their efforts include the reduction of rail congestion in heavily populated areas, the successful training of more than 800 employees in advanced track inspection that improves safety and the opening of the Big Lift Automotive Facility, which will help BNSF meet the increasing needs of automakers to get their vehicles to markets across the country.  
 
Pictured are the five Safety Employees of the Year: Montserrat Beamon, Gary Sage, Tessa Collins, Mike Warrington and Clintel Betts.
 
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BNSF honors Employees of the Year for 2014