The Skamania County Pioneer, Stevenson, WA., March 18, 1983, page 1
Includes photograph, titled:
DOWNPOUR of rain fails to dampen spirits as historic marker is unveiled at Sheridan's Point west of Stevenson Saturday, celebrating 75th anniversary of completion of the SP&S Railway March 11, 1908. Unveiling marker was Mrs. J.B. Stanton, whose husband was last general manager of SP&S before its merger with Burlington Northern. Assisting were Carolyn Bajema, president of the Skamania County historical Society; John Melonas, president, Portland Chapter, Burlington Northern Veterans Association; and Benjamin Fredericks, President of Portland Chapter, National Railway Historical Society. From left, Master of Ceremonies John E. von Gaertner, Railway Historical Society; Dallas Forest, president, Skamania County Chamber of Commerce; Cliff Crawford, Skamania County Historical Society; Caroline Bajema; George DeGroote of Chamber of Commerce; John Melonas, Mrs. Stanton and Benjamin Fredericks.
(Ed McLarney photo)
Additional photos on page 6
GOLDEN SPIKE CEREMONY OF MARCH 11, 1908 IS REENACTED SATURDAY
By Roy Craft
The completion of the Spokane, Portland and Seattle Railway, the Northwest's Own
Railway, March 11, 1908 was celebrated again Saturday when a golden spike was
driven at Sheridan's Point west of Stevenson and a Burlington Northern freight
train broke through a 75th anniversary banner stretched across the railroad
The golden spike was driven by N.S. “Jim” Westergard, 76, retired former official of both the SP&S the BN. The freight train symbolized the growth of the railroad system. SP&S is now a part of the Burlington Northern which includes the old Northern Pacific and Great Northern, both parent companies of the original SP&S.
Following the activities on the tracks at Sheridan's Point (near old Fort Rains), an historic marker was unveiled which told the story of the original golden spike ceremony March 11, 1908.
Unveiling the marker were Mrs. E.B. (Julie) Stanton whose husband, the late E.B. Stanton, was the last general manager of the old SP&S. Assisting her were Carolyn Bajema, president of the Skamania County Historical Society; John Melonas, president of the Portland Chapter, Burlington Northern Veterans Association; and Benjamin Fredericks, president of the Portland Chapter, National Railway Historical Society. The railway historians had made a major contribution to the cost of the marker.
The Sheridan's Point activities took place in a downpour of rain but the spirit of the big crowd was undampened. Adding to the excitement was the periodic firing of the 12-pounder mountain howitzer by the 1st Cascade Artillery under the command of Jeff Shriner, assisting was W.H. (Bud) Stevens of Carson. The gun is a replica of the howitzer used by Col. Steptoe's Artillery during the Indian uprising of 1856 and the massacre at Fort Rains.
Also firing salvos were members of the Cascade Muzzle-Loaders in frontier costumes.
A special train carrying 180 guests had made the run from Vancouver to Stevenson where buses carried them to the Sheridan's Point site. Making up the train were two business cars, the Columbia River and the Mississippi River, the historic SP&S lounge sleeper the Mount Hood, now owned by the railroad historians, and two 60-passenger coaches. Engineer was SP&S veteran Paul Baldassare and conductor was Travis Gaters.
Following the ceremonies at Sheridan's Point the party moved to the Rock Creek Recreation Center in Stevenson where the Skamania County Historical Society hosted a luncheon for nearly 400 people. The affair was organized by Kay Wright with the help of many volunteers.
Displayed in the building were railroad artifacts loaned by Leland and Nola Huot of Bingen. Huot is a railroad SP&S crane engineer. He retired after 46 years with the SP&S and 3˝ years with Burlington Northern. Other historic material was provided by Walter Grande, historian for the Railway Historical Society.
During the luncheon special music was provided by Shari Lee and her brother Ed Hargadine.
The second section of the two-part celebration was a program from the Rock Creek Center Stage.
“This railroad is still changing, growing and building for the future, just as it was in 1908,” guests were told by C.B. May, Seattle, assistant general manager for BN’s Seattle-Portland region.
Jim Westergard, who had driven the golden spike, reminisced about old times and described the SP&S employees as “one big family.” Benjamin Fredericks of the National Railway Historical Society told of his organization’s interest in the old SP&S and John Melonas of BN Veterans Association thanked Skamania County for the warm reception. Carolyn Bajema spoke on behalf of the Skamania County Historical Society.
Roy Craft of the Skamania County Historical Society was master of ceremonies. Charlie Brown delighted the audience with his harmonica rendition of “The Wabash Cannonball.”