The 2004 Spokane GNRHS Convention
by Lindsay Korst
for a pre-convention trip report
with Webmasters Ben and Lindsay.
Sunday, July 11, 2004
for pictures of the 2004 Convention
This year's convention is at the Ridpath Hotel
in downtown Spokane. Since I arrived the previous
evening, I am up at the crack of dawn (0700) and
am soon having breakfast at the Silver Grill Cafe
buffet in the hotel lobby.
The buffet eggs are scrambled "institutional style"
with cheese and are rather bland, but the bacon, sausage
and juice are fine. I ask for Tabasco sauce which
helps the eggs.
At 0830 the Board Meeting begins. When it comes
my turn, I hand out my proposal for doing a secure
website and setting up a credit card account for
GNRHS. The Board approves.....YES!
Actually the Board forms a committee to study
it with the mandate to determine the "ways and
means". This is great. I am excited about this
development which should benefit members and
improve the revenue stream for GNRHS. Stay tuned.
The meeting adjourns at noon and we are invited over
to the private car, "Gritty Palace" which is parked
at the nearby Amtrak station. We walk over.
Bruce Barsness and I take pictures of the Gritty Palace
on the sunny side (near the tracks) and out of the corner
of my eye I can see someone hustling over from the
depot to shoo us away...then we board the car, HA!
Arthur (Art) E. Pew III owns the private car and
along with John Robinson made the journey out west
from the Twin Cities. A very enjoyable buffet lunch
is provided on board (THANK you Art and John). After
taking many interior pictures, I cut out early with
Scott Tanner and head back to the Ridpath.
I spot Ben Ringnalda at the registration table and say
Hi! He tells me a little of his previous evening's
GN exploration in central Washington. Soon the
swap meet (Rail Fair) begins and almost immediately I
spot a huge GN logo! (original Scotchlite three foot
wide "Great Northern Railway" on an aluminum circle).
Oh boy, I've been wanting to GET one of these...
Bob Kelly is looking it over. The seller is asking
$zzz for it. Bob whispers an aside to me that a little
less than that is a good deal and that these old GN
logos can sometimes go for much more than that!
After checking it out for a good 15 minutes while I sweat
and try to keep a straight face, Bob walks away. I ask if
he was going to buy it? Bob says no. I go over to the
vendor and ask if he'll take $xxx for it. He counters with
$yyy and I say SOLD! Sweet! I pay him in cash.
Now comes the tricky part...getting out of there with this
huge GN icon...in front of everyone else. As I make my
way out the door and back to my room, I am greeted with,
"Hey! Where'd you get that???" "Is the swap meet open already???"
"Are there any more of those???" Bob later teases me that he
was just going to go and get money to buy it...for
MUCH less than I paid!
After safely stashing my logo in my room, I return to
the swap meet. I pick up two more Winold Reiss calendars
from Scott and GN T-shirts and apron and tote bags from
Jan and "Indians of the Northwest by Winold Reiss".
I also pick up 5 copies of the 1920's/30's "Great Northern Semaphore"
magazine from one vendor and 3 new T-shirts from another (XXL).
They are 50/50 cotton/poly. I hope they're OK as I usually go with
100% cotton. (Update: yes, very comfortable, even in
warm weather!) Time to replace my old ones with the holes in them
as per my wife's orders. BTW, those GN Semaphore magazines are
great. Lots of interesting information about the railroad in
the 1920's and 30's. Potential website goodies in there.
At the request of various GNRHS mucky-mucks, I digitally
photograph all the model contest entries and Casey Adams photo
entries. I will check late Monday a.m. to see if any more
are added. The idea is we will display the contest
entries on the big overhead screen for all to see. The
downside for me is it looks like I'll have to lug my
laptop on the bus tour Tuesday, because we will display
them at our lunch stop. Grrrrr....
Ben and I drive over to Tony Roma's for dinner. Very good.
We came back and got the last spot in the underground parking
self-park. Here the truck will stay until Thursday.
I turn in about 2030 and write up my notes and download my
pictures. It should be an easy day tomorrow. I just have to
remember and re-take a few model photos that were "fuzzy"
along with any new entries.
Monday, July 12, 2004
for pictures of the 2004 Convention
A slow day today. Up at my usual 0700,
this time I order from the kitchen. I have
eggs over easy, sausage links, hash browns
and toast which is MUCH better than the yesterday's
buffet. I head down to the Rail Fair swap meet
As promised, I re-take some pictures that were fuzzy
and of display items recently added to the contests.
I also took pictures of the 2004 Spokane GNRHS model kits
brought out and set up for me by Dave Thorsett and
Cliff Salmon. I will add these pictures and ordering
information to the GNRHS website presumably when the
September 2004 Goat mailing arrives.
Next, I wander around the Rail Fair and snap some candids
of the vendors and shoppers.
Ben Ringnalda comes by and says he's going out to Yardley to
photograph the former SP&S "Mt. St. Helens" along with the
other passenger equipment stored there. Ben said Mike Gelhaus,
is out there talking about his
cars and inviting people to walk around
for a look and pictures.
I head back to my room, download my latest pictures, organize
them and type up my notes. I take some time to get the contest
photos in order in folders for tomorrow's presentation.
As I look out the window of Room #449, I discover I can see the
GN clock tower on Havermale Island. I take a picture for posterity.
I take a walk down to the bank to get some bux for the rest of
my trip. Then I walk over to the nearby Carl's Jr. for a guilty
pleasure of mine, one of their Western Bacon Cheeseburgers! Mmmmm...
It is Very HOT today. 90 plus.
At 1230, I make my way downstairs for the afternoon presentations.
Jim Larson welcomes us at 13:00 and then Bob Downing starts his talk
early at 1330, not the 1400 scheduled which is good because
his history of the "10 railroads in Spokane" is quite interesting
and takes a while to explain.
Bob hand-colored a map of Spokane RR's and passed them out at
registration. Many questions afterwards. Thank you, Mr. Downing!
At 1500, Marv Franz, a former GN and BN locomotive engineer,
gives us a talk and slide show on Hillyard that is notable for
all the anecdotes and stories he has along with the slides.
There's nothing like hearing from an old head "who was there"!
1600 brings author Noel Holley's presentation on the GN
Electrification including old historical photographs of the
Skykomish to Wenatchee line. Noel's talk is excellent and
prompts an enthusiastic round of questions afterwards.
At 1700, we break for dinner. Ben drives a carload of us over
to "Frank's Diner" over near the tracks on the west side of town.
The diner is fashioned out of an old NP arch window passenger
car which used to be a restaurant in Seattle! In the 1990's the
car/diner was moved to its present location in Spokane.
About 10 of us line up at the counter at this beanery and enjoy
watching our dinner being prepared right in front of us! Very
good food and highly recommended by your webmaster. Ben and I decide
to start our post-convention trip to Montana on Thursday with a
hearty breakfast here as well. We were not disappointed.
I attend the business meeting at 1930 and the start of Duane
Buck's modeling clinic at 2000 and get pictures of those making
presentations. Then it is upstairs to type up my notes, download
more pictures and relax for the big day tomorrow.
Tuesday, July 13, 2004
for pictures of the 2004 Convention
A VERY long day.
Biscuits and Gravy at the hotel coffee shop which
is not so good. Someday, I'll have to try that at
Have to schlep my laptop along today...grrrr!
Luckily, there is an overhead bin on the bus to
store it in. (Don't take my whining too seriously...
I'm just being obnoxious...)
We pull up to the Yardley office and Bob Downing, Marv
Franz and Jim Larson all walk over there. It turns out
they are "not quite expecting us". Eventually it all
gets sorted out.
A BNSF guy came out and showed us how to remote control
a Geep! He also brought us out a FRED (End of Train
Device) to look at.
Next is the surprise of the day's tour and the big hit
of the convention, as far as I'm concerned.
They bus us over to Mike Gelhaus and his NP passenger
car collection which was open to us! Mike has almost
an entire North Coast Limited in his collection
including 4 dome cars (2 pullman, 2 coach).
Also there is a Traveler's Rest lounge car, still in
mostly original condition including wall murals
and tables, which is an outstanding relic from the
past. Aside from the City of Spokane (ex-Port of
Vancouver, GN #1196 used on the Internationals), is
the Mt. St. Helens car painted in Lowery two tone
green. The M.S.H. was used on the Portland section
of the Empire Builder and owned by SP&S.
City of Spokane is being stripped for repainting.
After saying good bye and thank you to Mike, they
bus us over to the roundhouse and hostler office.
They spin the turntable for us. Very cool! Led
by Marv Franz, we then take a quick walk through
by the roundhouse, and into the crew room (to look at
old GN photographs).
Now by bus to the other side of downtown and the
Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture for a box lunch
BNSF gives us a Powerpoint presentation AND shows
a 5 minute DVD movie of the Fuel Station out at Hauser,
starring Bob Downing who gets a BIG round of applause!
Father Dale presents a topical slide show on railroads
in the area.
Next, I go up there with my laptop showing the various models
that were on display while Duane Buck reads off what they
are and who won for each category.
Next, I show the Casey Adams photo contest entries
while Jim Chinquist says what the photos are and who won
(Norm Priebe with his picture of a GN freight eastbound
near the summit of Marias Pass).
Somewhere in there, I sneak in a little slide show
of my own (from weekend trips with Ben and Scott).
I pass on the Rick Piper video and talk about the
Cascade Tunnel (as I had already seen it). Scott pulls
me into the adjacent research library which has a nice
selection of area RR photos and Blackfeet Indian pictures.
I take the opportunity to download my camera into my
laptop at a library table.
Again, it is HOT outside. Mid 90's.
The ride back in the bus is a sauna. Luckily it is not
far to the hotel (10 minutes) so it is bearable.
Dinner tonight at "The Onion", a decent enough restaurant
picked by Bruce Barsness because Lindsay (me) could NOT
find the $#@!@#@$#! Azteca restaurant. The French Onion
soup and taco salad for dinner was pretty good!
Next was a looooong bus tour of FOUR model layouts! We didn't
get back until 2230. I called Baolu from the bus as we were
rolling down I-90 to tell her how the day went. I didn't realize
the tour would last 4 hours or I might have passed on it.
We saw layouts in Dishman, Hillyard, south of Latah Creek Bridge
and back towards Opportunity. All the modelers graciously
opened their homes and provided refreshments at each stop.
I'm not a modeler, but what I saw was very impressive. A big
Rocky, "Thank You!" to Roy Wyatt, David Wyria, Dwight Petty
and the Spokane River City Modelers for their hospitality.
Duane Buck redid his modeling clinic at 2230 when we got
back (most people did the layout tour - 4 buses going
to sites and then swapping.) which I though was pretty
nice of him considering the hour! Thank YOU also, Mr. Buck.
Wednesday, July 14, 2004
for pictures of the 2004 Convention
Once more up at the crack of dawn! I go downstairs at
0630 for breakfast (Eggs over easy & sausages).
This time I enjoyed my breakfast with Jim Chinquist and
later on we were joined by John Thomas.
At 0800, Ben and I are on the bus to Hillyard.
Marv Franz gave us a history of the area and
described where all the facilities used to stand.
The X-176 caboose was open along with an ex-GN
boxcar and UP car used as an exhibit. Inside
the exhibit, I saw a picture of GN telegrapher
Chuck Dayley as a young man!
My interior shots of the caboose turned out great,
but my exteriors were a little over-exposed.
Hopefully, I will remember to reshoot when Ben
and I go by on Thursday. The actual "old" Hillyard
depot was pointed out to us (brown building just north
of VFW Hall on N. Haven Street).
We reload the buses and ride over to Hauser, ID
and BNSF's spanking-new fueling station. We overhear
the BNSF folks saying "we weren't expecting so
Still, BNSF does a great job showing us around
the place. We are told that not many BNSF employees
are allowed in -- only workers with business here
get past the main gate for security reasons.
We have four buses, so BNSF handles us by busload
with tours of:
1) The tank farm (fuel and wastewater storage)
2) Drive around the surrounding area in bus
3) Covered area where tank cars will unload fuel
4) The actual covered mainline fueling area.
BNSF says that eventually 75% of all their trains
will stop here for fuel, lube oil, water, sand.
Servicing at Hauser will allow a train to travel
from here to Portland or Seattle and back (for
topping off) and eliminate this chore from the
already-crowded terminals on the coast.
The effort and money BNSF has put into making
this facility safe and environmentally-friendly
is truly remarkable. IMHO, they have gone
above and beyond even the government's already
stringent regulations and deserve two thumbs
up for their efforts at being a good corporate
After our Hauser tour, we ride back to the
Spokane Fairgrounds for a delicious lunch
(Longhorn Barbecue) under a tent shading us
from the hot sun. After eating, I take the
early bus back to the hotel because I already
have shots of the equipment, including GN
I take a nap, shower up and photograph the very
cool GNRHS B.C. license plate in the parking area.
Took pictures of all presenters and award winners:
Dave Durfee won "Age Before Beauty" framed print.
Noel Holley won full length Budd Dome to be custom
painted by Duane Buck
Cliff Salmon won two nights stay at Izaak Walton Inn.
Jack Hoover won two Jim Jordan EB posters (70th & 75th
Jim Larson won a GNRHS Directors' James J. Hill award.
It was announced that Connie Hoffman had resigned as
GNRHS Secretary and was replaced by Ray Chappell.
Future GNRHS conventions were listed as:
2005 will be Fergus Falls
2006 will be Everett (tentative)
2007 will be Williston (tentative)
The evening wrapped up around 2030. I have to say that as
conventions go, the Spokane 2004 version was a good one.
The buses ran on time, didn't break down, and were air-conditioned.
It would have been nice to have some drinking water provided,
but I have learned to bring my own on these trips. All-in-all, a
well done show! A big, hearty, THANK YOU to all who helped
put on Spokane 2004 and made it so successful.
for a post-convention trip report
with Webmasters Ben and Lindsay.