The Goldendale Sentinel, Goldendale, WA., May 25, 1967, page 2
LIFETIME OF CHANGE
One of the important sidelights of the celebration of the first train over the
new SP&S track last week was the presence of H.D. Whitmore, shown in a picture
on this page. His memory spans 60 years, back to that day in September of 1907
when he witnessed the first train travel over the original SP&S North Bank road,
Mr. Whitmore was “in town” with his father on that pioneer day when the first train made its way into Roosevelt. He was a young boy then. Last Tuesday, as a retired farmer, he was president with Mrs. Whitmore at the John Day dam to tape record the music of the Bickleton High School Band, as well as the sounds of the diesel locomotives as it started up after its stop, and broke through the paper barrier to officially open the new, relocated, a track to use.
During his lifetime, Mr. Whitmore says he has seen a big change. From welcoming the railroad as a project to put life-blood into the country, he has seen it decline in public interest to almost and unrecognized background. Yet its unnoticed service to the nation is far greater now than ever, despite the fact the public no longer depends on it for personal transportation.
He has seen the country developed tremendously, as a home, and as a producer of agricultural commodities. He has seen this emphasis change. No longer is production of wool economically important, so that sheep herds have dwindled. No longer is the horse the sole source of farm motive power, nor farmers limited to power availability accordingly. No longer are farmers dependent only on themselves for all their needs; no longer are they economically free to do what they please, when they please. No longer can they regard government as something remote, which they can “take or leave;” the government is their business partner.
Many changes have taken place since H.D. Whitmore stood in wonder on the Roosevelt station platform, or kept a firm hold on the bits of restless horses experiencing the strange sounds of living machines for the first time in their lives. Mr. Whitmore and his contemporaries now are the ones who speculate with restful feelings on the present turn of the strange character of the machines and have developed -- in the 60 years which have sped by so rapidly.
If change has come so fast in the last 60 years, what will the next 60 bring? Mr. Whitmore, with the wisdom of his kind, admits he cannot know; but he is not greatly excited. He has found much to do in life, the life which he can exercise control of. He has applied himself, made life acceptable, and he in his advanced years he has time to investigate his hobbies. He and his wife have been rockhounds for years; they travel a bit, take pictures, record sounds they want to preserve, they have collected many mementoes of the past, to stimulate and refresh the memories of their lives.
Great material change has taken place. Yet the wisdom of the pioneers of our land has not been altered; it lives on in people such as the Whitmores, and in their children to come. Man's greatest need -- to adapt, yet to retain his character, which enables him to master change -- is exemplified in the sons of the pioneers. It is the hope of mankind in a frightening, wonder-filled future.
NORTH BANK HISTORY
As mentioned above, Mr. H.D. Whitmore saw his first train in Roosevelt in
September, 1907, during harvest season. However, the official records show that
regular passenger service between Pasco and Vancouver began the next March 16,
in 1908. In November of that same year bridges over the Columbia and Willamette
rivers were completed, thus extending the service to the terminal in Portland.
On May 3, 1909, the line between Pasco and Spokane was completed and the SP&S
was at last able to operate over its own tracks between two of the cities which
make up its name.
Construction of the SP&S main line had started in November, 1905, at Kennewick, following the Columbia river downstream over a water-level grade, staying 10 feet above the high water mark of 1894. Two years later, in October, 1907, track laying was started eastward from Vancouver, as the 2350-foot tunnel through Cape Horn neared completion. On March 11, 1908 construction crews from east and west met at Sheridan's Point (near Bonneville dam) and James J. Hill drove the last spike in an impressive ceremony. The road was popularly known for years as “The North Bank Line,” for its characteristic of following the north shore of the Columbia.
The Oregon Trunk, a subsidiary of SP&S, was built up the Deschutes river in a fierce competitive race with the Union Pacific, in 1911. It provides a connection with Great Northern lines in South-Central Oregon and Northern California, which reach San Francisco bay area by connections with the Western Pacific.
SP&S also operates down the Columbia, from Portland to Astoria, and through the Willamette valley to Eugene, over its subsidiary, Oregon Electric.