Issaquah is my city.
We have lived here since my older daughter was born, so roughly 17 years. We came to Issaquah and found our home when it was just a mound of dirt and there was nothing in the Issaquah Highlands but a large field and plans to make a premiere shopping center.
Well, now it's a bustling center with Regal Cinemas and a host of keystone stores like Dicks Sporting Goods and Ulta Beauty, not to mention the various restaurants and smaller shops. It has changed significantly since we first moved in.
What hasn't changed all that much is downtown Issaquah.
There are the shops and restaurants on Front St... and ... that's about it.
Sure some of the names have changed but for the most part it's still just a charming single "main" street sort of town.
One of my favorite attractions has always been the old train depot and museum next to the police station. There are old rail tracks and some old train cars. But it's never been anything more than a cool place to check out old trains and take some fun pictures.
Eric has been working on maintaining the railway and cars for about 40 years.
I happened to be there one morning and noticed that there was some activity by the museum building. In all the time I had been to this area, I have never seen anyone doing anything involving the train tracks.
So, of course, I had to go over and check out what was happening.
Lo and behold, there was Eric moving some railroad ties. Those are the big chunks of wood that the railroad tracks lay on.
Apparently, Issaquah is planning on restoring the old trolley and offering rides on the 1/4 mile or so tracks.
Eric grew up around trains and train yards. "So, I guess it's in my blood. My dad was a machinist so I was just used to working on stuff as a kid," he said when I asked him about how he ended up doing this kind of work.
He told me he works alone all the time so he had to figure out how to move these enormous and heavy railroad ties without any help. So he figured out a pretty clever pulley system to move the up to 400lb. chunks of solid oak. These things are also about 6-8 feet long so it's not an easy thing to just stack and lay.
Eric build a simple crane system on top of a handtruck car and uses old fashioned rope and a series of pulleys to make the lifting easy. The scissor-like hooks at the end of the pulley gets tighter as you pull on the rope.
Pretty cool right?
With the crane and pulley system he created, he is able to move these big, heavy ties by himself from one place to another and essentially anywhere along the tracks.
He will also use a pick like hammer to position the tie so that the handtruck can ride over it and then he uses the same scissor clamps attached to a metal rod to lift and drag the ties to his desired location.
It's pretty amazing how a little ingenuity can make such an arduous task look so simple.
Back in the old days, the railroad ties were treated with creosote.
Of course we can't have that anymore since it is extremely hazardous to your health. So newer railroad ties are pressure treated much like your fencing or decking materials. And although traditionally they were made of oak, they are now made of less expensive wood like fir.
Bet you didn't think you were going to get a lesson on railroad ties today, did you?
Neither did I.
But strangely interesting and satisfying, right?
Anyway, I am excited to hear that the city of Issaquah has plans to re-invigorate this region. I think it will be so fun to have the trolley running again even if it's just for a fun quick ride. The other end of the ride will terminate somewhere near the dairy, just across the bridge.
(slideshow of pics of the trolley- the reflections come from the glass of the warehouse that it is stored in. I liked the look so I used these.)
Eric's next project?
Yup, you guessed it. He is going to clean out and cut back all the blackberry bushes surrounding that railway bridge next to the dairy. Doesn't sound like a lot of fun, that job.
Eric hopes that the project will be done by next summer and kids will be gleefully riding on the old trolley again in the heart of Issaquah.
I can't wait.
Thanks Eric for all that you do for the city and taking the time to share your knowledge and kindness withe me.
And a special thanks to my friend Ivan, who allowed me to use his Fuji cameras for this session. I am in love with the style and handling of these cameras and the amazing looks I can get from the film simulations.