Tell Tale Extra: Fredrickson, Sullivan, and the old Switcherroo!

J.A. Phillips


On the first Saturday night in October Kent Sullivan hosts ''A Day in the Life of a Tacoma Division Dispatcher'' at the White River Valley Museum in Auburn, Washington. (Note: This evening was erroneously scheduled to cover the Tacoma Division's North End, including the Sumas Line linking Puget Sound with Canada. That presentation has been re-scheduled to the first Friday in February, 2011. [See below.]) Our October show instead features Dispatcher Jim Fredrickson, together with Kent, diving into the details of Tacoma Division dispatching. Included are train sheets from the 1950s (and explanations of their use), stories from events documented in the sheets, and the preliminary results of Kent's North End traffic analysis based upon these resources. Jim will cover the Tacoma Division dispatchers as they worked in the summer of 1956, including stories about each man, descriptions of their tools of the trade, as documented by day-in-the-life photos.

Our rescheduled North End presentation will be on the first Friday night in February, 2011, when Kent will host a presentation on the Tacoma Division's North End, including the Sumas Line to British Columbia. On this night he will focus on operations in Whatcom County, including Bellingham, Wickersham, and Sumas. The territory includes the Fifteenth Sub-division and the northern-most reaches of the Fifth Sub-division (Sumas Line). Kent will share information collected not only on the NP and its facilities, but also industries served by the railway. He will also touch on the Milwaukee Road's competition. Finally, for color commentary, we hope to have Agent Lorren Coleman in attendance, the NP's man in Sumas for many years.

The White River Valley Museum offers an open house from 6:30 to 7:30, the presentation will run from 7:30 to 9:30 at the Senior Activity Center, located just across the street. The Museum has many area railroad photographs from the collection of NP Engineer Albert E. Farrow, as well as the outstanding newspaper collection of Alvin Leslie.

Presentation admission is $5 for adults, $4 for children and seniors, and free to Museum members in the Engineer, Life and above donor levels. Coffee, juice and snacks are complimentary.

The White River Valley Museum is located in the Auburn Community Campus at Les Gove Park, at 918 H Street Southeast. Hours are 12 to 4, Wednesdays through Sundays, and by appointment for group tours and research.

Regular Museum admission is $2 for adults, $1 for children and seniors. Wednesdays are free for everyone. For more information call (253) 288-7433 or look them up on the Web at

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