Track to the future

What a joy to hear about the possible return of the Palouse Goose! (Winter 09/10) I have many great memories of traveling between Spokane and Pullman in the early 60’s on the single-car “train” that carried us to and from college. Most of the time we were able to sit in the passenger side of the car but on one memorable trip the seats were full and several of us got to ride with the baggage. Accompanying us were several caged roosters, bound possibly for a future cockfight. We eyed each other throughout our transit, their dark beady eyes shining through open slats in their cages.

On one occasion I recall that the train grew from the single car to an engine and several passenger cars. A winter storm had convinced many students from west of the Cascades that the rails were safer to travel than the highways. Even with the extra cars we were packed in like sardines, but anticipation of the Christmas break made it all a great adventure.

Good luck to those who wish to resurrect the rails in the Palouse! How much fun it would be to take the train to Pullman for a homecoming game or even the Apple Cup.

Eileen Glaholt ’65


The article “Track to the Future” brought back memories of the fall of 1954 when my friend Jo and I departed from Seattle on the NPR for Spokane and then on to Pullman for our first year at WSC. I took the same steamer trunk my mother had used when she went to the Palouse in 1929. I pledged Pi Beta Phi just as my mother had, and the steamer trunk came back to Seattle with me in 1956 when I prepared to marry my college sweetheart Bill Goodenough, Phi Kappa Tau, class of 1956.

I shall never forget the train ride to Pullman—“Milk Run” as we called it! I had on a crimson wool suit and it was 90 degrees when we arrived at the station. Great memories! Great article!

Joy Vanasse Goodenough ’58


My first arrival in Pullman was aboard the Northern Pacific train from Spokane after the slow overnight run from Seattle. I remember that experience as though it was last week and not sixty years ago.

More current students may not be familiar with the fact that Pullman was served by both the Northern Pacific and Union Pacific trains every day. Surely, all Cougars recognize the downtown WSU Information Center as the former Union Pacific Depot. The Northern Pacific Depot was across the street from the current Swilly’s Restaurant—for many years it was the Hutchinson Photography Studio.

In 1950, the Cougar football team played Utah State in Logan, Utah. The team departed Pullman on the Union Pacific passenger train early evening for the long trip to Utah with a sendoff rally at the station. Unfortunately, the team lost the game 46-6, and there was a relatively small reception when the team arrived back at Union Station several days later. As a lifelong rail fan, the memories about passenger trains in Pullman remain.

Quite vividly, I recall that the train from Spokane had a station stop in Colfax. The schematic map in your current article bypasses the Whitman County Seat and certainly that would be important to reviving an important travel option to Pullman. Even access by Greyhound Bus isn’t what we remember and sometimes used in the bygone years as a student at WSU.

A stimulating article—much enjoyed.

Charles D. Comstock ’52


Read with interest the article on the train that ran into Pullman in the earlier years. My grandmother (Olive Durkee) rode that train from Chewelah to Pullman every week for a few years when she went back to school to obtain her pharmacy degree (1918). Her young daughters, Dorothy Durkee (Alm) and Naomi Durkee traveled back and forth with her. They both eventually attended WSC. My grandfather, Harry Durkee, was the Great Northern Depot Agent in Chewelah at the time so they traveled on passes. That was quite a trip in those days. I think it would be a great convenience to have that going again.

Karen (Alm) Jassman ’61


The cover story on page 15 of the winter 2009/10 issue may have made a fine classroom project with sentimental appeal but the reality is that train service between Pullman and Spokane won’t happen without a huge infusion of money.

And who will regularly use train service? Northern Pacific scheduled 2 hours and 8 minutes for the 77 mile run from Pullman to Spokane in the 1960s. An automobile makes the trip in half the time (or less) and goes when you want it to, not once or twice a day.

What about start-up costs? In addition to new stations displayed in the article, getting track speeds back to the level of 1960 will require more rehabilitation than the current freight company has planned. Trains and engines may be “in place,” but where are they? Amtrak has no spare cars for new service, leaving a choice of ordering new cars or trying to find and rehabilitate a few 50-year- old antiques.

Will there be enough riders willing to pay for fuel, car and engine maintenance, employee wages, and track maintenance? Only a full blown marketing survey and a cost/benefit study will answer these questions, but let’s be clear about one thing: trains to Pullman won’t be cheap. Will they be the best use of scarce tax dollars?

Bill Lyman ’64


Was pleased to read that Bob Scarfo is proposing plans for the return of passenger rail service to Pullman. His plan to extend the service further south to Lewiston would hit a minor snag however. Rail service beyond Moscow was discontinued in the early 90s and the tracks to Lewiston have since been removed. Even if the entire roadbed is intact it would be a costly proposition to re-lay the rails. Unfortunately, going further south than Moscow would not be very efficient in terms of time. The railroad had to make a long circuitous line in order to maintain a reasonable grade. The highway can use a steeper and much more direct grade.

I’ve personally been commuting by rail for over 13 years, so I do appreciate its advantages. An integrated transportation system is a big plus for the people and the environment.

Doug Moore ’74, 
Warren, MA


My mother, Agnes Morrow Sparling, class of 1928, told me of taking the train from Pullman to Seattle. There was a car on the train reserved for dancing, and they danced most of the way to Seattle.

Joyce Sparling Merriam x’57


Grover Krantz and Clyde

I picked up my paper copy of the Winter 09/10 edition of the Washington State Magazine and opened randomly to the last page, “Final Words: Grover Krantz (1931–2002) and Clyde.” I immediately recognized Dr. Krantz’s name from an honors anthropology class I took from him my first year at WSU. While I did not become an anthropologist, I think of Dr. Krantz often throughout my life. As a sophomore I was going through an “academic” crisis: not knowing what I wanted to be when I grew up. In one of my angstful moments I asked Dr. Krantz how he knew he wanted to be an anthropologist. He told me a story of when he was an undergraduate and entered a room (a reception, as I recall) filled with anthropologists. He told me he felt so comfortable surrounded by the people in attendance that he figured he finally found where he belonged. Now, as a high school teacher, I find opportunity to pass on his advice to my students, my friends, and even myself as I consider new career opportunities. Thanks for sharing such a small story about a man who continues to inspire and to teach—bones or not.

Heidi Perry ’93, Wildlife Resource Science


Paper cuts

I read the articles entitled “Paper Cuts” with much interest. The [reasons] for the apparent demise of various newspapers throughout the Northwest were appropriate given the current situation.

I would like to add to the list the matter of the content of newspaper reporting over the past ten to twenty years and maybe longer. By definition, “reporting” is generally considered as a presentation of facts about a (particular) subject.

So much of the reporting over the last many years has included politically slanted viewpoints. These viewpoints, whether by the reporter or the particular newspaper, are not what readers of either political stripe want to read. If the bias is all one way or the other, it is no wonder that the newspapers are having trouble with dwindling circulation numbers! The most recent presidential election is a glaring case in point.

Accurate, factual, unbiased reporting and investigations of important topics is what I would welcome and would be interested in reading.

Ray Schoessler ’70


In response to your great article “Paper Cuts,” the Wenatchee World was left out. Probably the newspaper that covers more area in Washington state, published in the Apple Capital of the World. Former owner Rufus Woods, a booster of water power, especially Grand Coulee Dam.

George Roberts ’48, Ag. Educ.


The straight coprolite

Regarding “Talking Turkey,” coprolite is fossil material. Author Wiener makes many references to the turkey poop as being soft, something that can be cut open, scooped out, re-liquified, something that has a smell. I probably would have left a single mention without writing a correction, but she uses the word so many “educational” times, interchangeable with “old turkey poop” that I think the error should be corrected.

Lynn Sherwood ’75


(We asked archaeologist Bill Lipe to clarify the terminology: “The term ‘coprolite’ has been used in archaeology since at least the 1960s to refer to either dried or mineralized feces. It originated in paleontology in the 1800s, but despite the ‘-lite’ part of the term, which implies ‘stony,’ archaeologists in the mid-20th century extended its use to cover ancient feces that had been preserved by various means.)


More nutritious?

You used two pages to report contradictory studies on the nutritional value of organic food. Why not study something important like the illness and deaths of people that eat salads made of green leafy vegetables. Health officials agree this major hazard traces to the living organisms on the surface of the vegetables that originated in the feces of warm-blooded animals. We need to know how these deadly organisms made the trip from animal to plant.

Robert J. Buker ’53
(Mr. Buker is a retired research agronomist.)


Green dorm

The article “Opening new doors to green” about the new Olympia Avenue residence hall was good. There is one correction I would like to make. The acronym LEED stands for “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.” The CUB has already received a LEED Silver rating. Two other buildings on the Vancouver campus, Undergraduate Classroom Building and Applied Technology Classroom, are also expecting LEED Silver.

Terry Baxter-Potter AIA
LEED® AP, Project Manager, WSU Capital Planning & Development