Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877

Moscow & Pullman Building Supply

By Jerry Jones

'Don't it always seem to go'


June 28, 2018 | View PDF

Two reports last week about the same neighborhood in Pullman call to mind the anchor lyrics from Joni Mitchell's 1970 “Big Yellow Taxi” hit song:

Don't it always seem to go

That you don't know what you've got `til its gone

The Department of Transportation's project list last week for the eastern district announced a plan to remove an unused railroad crossing across N. Grand in Pullman.

In Colfax, two Pullman residents who were introduced at Sunday's ice cream social or Whitman County Historical Society announced a launch for the Pullman Depot Heritage Center.

The railroad crossing which is leaving the scene on N. Grand was a former Union Pacific crossing for the track which supplied coal to the WSU steam plant.

Coal and grain were the cargo loads with which the UP did business for decades. The grain came from Risbeck, Parvin, Shawnee and Albion.

Now idle and owned by the state, the former UP line has been nominated as a possible rails to trails project. Final chapter for operation of the line was the 2006 fire which destroyed a burned a trestle east of Colfax along with the elevator at Risbeck.

The historical society's Depot Heritage Center will be located in the former Northern Pacific Depot which was also a big part of Pullman's railroad history. The NP also hauled grain, and at one time played a big role in student transportation.

The rail line on the east side of the county, now also part of the state system, also does not do a lot of business in Pullman. Last commercial stop is the unit train grain storage facility at Fallon between Palouse and Pullman.

The line generates grain, and lumber cargo from the Bennett Mill at Harvard at Palouse and picks up cargo along the line.

The McCoy Terminal between Oakesdale and Rosalia brought a big commerical boost to the north end of rail line on the east side.

The last gasp of passenger transportation went out when the NP more than 50 years ago shut down its self-powered "bug" car. WSU student traffic is now transported to campus by automobiles.

The effort by the historical society to collect and exhibit the one-time railroad lore deserves support. The Depot museum could do a lot to show the role railroads had at Pullman, and in the county.

Railroads played a big factor in Pullman, but, to again refer to that lyric in Joni Mitchell's Yellow Taxi song, it's gone.


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