Sunday, September 29, 2019

Flood Day 202

Flood stage of the Big Blue River at Blue Rapids is 26 ft or an elevation of 1101 ft.  March 12 was the first day that the river was above 26 ft.  The river crested at 61.32 ft on May 31 (Flood Day 81).  By September 20 the river hat dropped to 35.45 ft (a drop f 25.87 ft).  With significant rains, the river was back up to 39.26 ft.on September 28.

Sunday, September 29 is the 202nd day for the river to be above flood stage at Blue Rapids.  As a point of trivia, the river is now at the same level that it was on April 5 (flood day 25, rising) and September 9 (flood day 182, falling).

A little review of the storage capacity of Tuttle Creek Reservoir.  The lake has three water storage sections.  The normal or Multipurpose Pool level of the lake is 1075 ft above mean sea level.  Above the Multipurpose pool is the Flood Control Storage space with an upper elevation of 1136 ft.  Above the Flood Control Storage space is the Surcharge space, which will only hold water if the flood gates are opened.

Today (Sunday Sept. 29) the lake elevation is 1113.92 ft (38.92 ft above the Multipurpose level).  The Flood Control Space is currently holding 897,155 acre·ft of flood water or 47.67% of its capacity.  The lake currently has a an area of 36,143 acres, which is over 3 times the Multipurpose pool area of 10,900 acres.  This also means the lake is still covering 67% of the area it covered when the Flood Control space was at maximum capacity.

The release rates at Tuttle Creek Reservoir, Perry Lake, and Clinton Lake are essentially dependent upon the flow rate of the Missouri River at Waverly, MO.  Flow rates in excess of 90,000 cfs at Waverly create some lowland flooding.  Today the flow rate at Waverly is 171,000 cfs.  For the last week or so the discharge rate at Tuttle Creek has remained at 200 cfs. According to an article in the Manhattan Mercury on Friday, September 27, the release rate at Tuttle cannot be increased unless the flow rate at Waverly is below 140,000 cfs or the lake level rises to 1114.4 ft (it is very close to that now) at which time the flow rate at Waverly must be below 180,000 cfs.

Link to Manhattan Mercury Article from Friday, September 27:

According the to USACE Three Day Reservoir Forecast, the release from Tuttle is to be 2000 cfs starting on Monday, September 30.  This release rate pretty much offsets the daily inflow so the lake level will remain fairly static.  The inflow on Saturday at MT was 2,700 cfs.

FYI:  A discharge rate of 2000 cfs is roughly equal to 4000 acre·ft/day.  There is still approximately 900,000 acre·ft of water in the Flood Control Space.

Link to USACE Three Day Forecast:

Link to USACE 8-Day Reservoir Report

Link to September 29 USACE Lake Levels Report

You may have to cut and paste the USACE links into your web browser.

The Flood Control Space at Perry Lake is still at 40.6 percent of its capacity and Clinton Lake's is at 34.7 percent of its capacity.

Milford Lake is 32 ft above normal pool level and its Flood Control Storage space is at 47% of capacity with 356,062 acre·ft of flood water.

Prepared by David Crawford

Thursday, September 12, 2019

No more Wind Storms!!

The June 10 wind storm that passed through southern Marshall County wrecked havoc with the trees along the Central Branch Railroad.  Last month Gene Harding and Dave Crawford cleared 26 trees east of the Vista RD crossing.  Gene and his wife Sandy cleared a bunch of trees west of Waterville and had to quit when the found one across the Coon Creek Bridge.

Some of the mess Gene and Sandy cleared.

 More of Gene and Sandy's work.

Tree down across Coon Creek.

On Tuesday, September 10, Larry Moon, George Lookhart, Kenny Winkenwader and Dave Crawford went out to the Coon Creek bridge to clear the tree off of the tracks.

After cutting three more trees they encountered a mess they were too exhausted to begin to tackle.

Fortunately, Ann Walter recruited some help to go back out on Thursday morning to clear the above mess.  Not knowing what they were up against, Lyle Walters, Dennis White and Pierce Holliman volunteered to go out and help.  Upon arrival on "the scene" one of the comments was "Where's the dozer?"

Oh, and did we mention there is more?

After two and a half hours of work we finally had the rails cleared from Waterville west to "Somewhere".  For those that are not familiar with "Somewhere", it is a little open area with a shelter donated by the Waterville Lions Club.  Groups can take a ride from Waterville out to "Somewhere" for a picnic, birthday party or no special reason.

And then it was time for lunch at the historic Weaver Hotel in Waterville, KS.  Todays specials were a hamburger casserole with salad and a dinner roll or a Chicken sandwich with a salad and chips.  Dessert was either Coconut Cream pie or Peanut Butter Chocolate Cream pie.

A big thank you to our helpers Dennis, Pierce, and Lyle!  As Ann would say "All Aboard!"

Our normal operating season is April 1 thru October 31.  To schedule a ride call Ann at either 785-363-2342 (Home) or 785-799-4294 (Cell)

For more details about our rides visit our website at

Thursday, September 5, 2019

New Safety Signs

Marshall County Railroad Historical Society has had some recent occurrences of children climbing on the caboose in Blue Rapids.  The basic reason for not wanting anyone to be climbing on the caboose is the risk of falling and getting injured or worse.  Falling from any height onto rails or ballast is never good.

OSHA requires fall protection for anyone in general industry at elevations of 4 feet, 5 feet in shipyards, 6 feet in the construction industry and 8 feet in longshore operations.  Cleary it is not a safe practice for children to be climbing on the caboose.

This prompted the MCRHS board to purchase and install a couple of safety signs indicating that climbing on the caboose is not permitted.

It is worth noting that Kansas Law (K.S.A. 21-5809) states that "Entering or remaining on railroad property, without the consent of the owner or the owner's agent, knowing that it is railroad property" is criminal trespassing.

We don't want to discourage the casual observer who wants to take a closer look at the caboose but we do want to insure that the safety of everyone is of greatest importance.

Below are pictures of the posted signs.  The first picture is on the East end of the caboose and visible from the platform.  The second sign is on the west end of the caboose and visible from the street.

The signs were donated by longtime MCRHS member Ken Oppenlander.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

MoPac Passenger Train Schedule

Our newest life member provided us with a Missouri Pacific passenger train schedule from May 1, 1950.  In the enlarged view (upper left photo), the leftmost column is the Westbound times and the rightmost column is the Eastbound times. The table indicates it takes 8 minutes to travel between the towns of Waterville, KS and Blue Rapids, KS, a distance of 4.8 miles based on the mileposts indicated in the 2nd column.

Table No. 17 at the right is a Central Branch Union Pacific Time Table from the 1870's.  The "Express" time for the route from Atchison to Waterville was 6 hours.  For a mixed consist the time was 9 hours and 50 minutes (both westbound).

Saturday, July 27, 2019

More Work...

This past week was a very busy week for the crew on the Central Branch Railroad.  Following Monday's tree trimming, Larry Moon, our maintenance supervisor came up from Riley on Tuesday to do some routine maintenance on equipment and prep work for more spraying along the rails.  This has been a tough year to get any spraying done due to the frequent rains in May and June.  Larry and Dave Crawford did get some spraying done this week.

Also on Tuesday, Gene and Sandy Harding took an inspection ride going west out of Waterville.  They did not make it to Coon Creek due to downed trees. They returned on Saturday morning to cut trees, including the mess pictured below on the east side of Coon Creek.  Also pictured is a large tree down across the bridge towards the west side.  That tree is yet to be dealt with - not real sure how to cut a tree while standing on a bridge or trestle!

Wednesday morning was another big round of trimming east of the Vista RD crossing.  All together, Gene Harding and Dave Crawford trimmed 26 trees that had fallen across the tracks east of Blue Rapids.  Most were in the 6-8 inch diameter range with several in the 12-15 inch diameter range.  We thought excited when we could see the  Big Blue River bridge but then found 3 more trees in the last quarter mile or so at the east end of the rails.

At least now the rails are open for a ride on Monday going east from Waterville across the river and back.

And of course along with all the tree trimming, the grass in the Blue Rapids rail yard had to get mowed Thursday evening.

After a busy week, Friday evening provided a beautiful view of the Big Blue River.  The first picture is looking south and the second one looking north from the bridge.

PS - Almost can't count the number of deer we have seen this week.  Probably saw a half a dozen Friday evening between Blue Rapids and Waterville.  We had one jump across the rails at dusk that was illuminated by the headlight!

Monday, July 22, 2019

Day 2 of Tree Cutting

This morning was the second day in which Gene Harding and Dave Crawford cleared trees that had fallen across the railroad tracks during or after the storm on July 10.  We cleared several more trees and there are at least three more to but cut up.  We encountered a rattlesnake and a deer.  We never saw the rattle snake but could hear the rattle in the rubbish.  Fortunately the snake was off to the side where we could leave it alone.  The deer was laying in the grass along the right of way and jumped up and ran off as we approached it.

This afternoon, Gene and Sandy Harding rode east from Waterville to check for downed trees and limbs between Waterville and Blue Rapids.  They encountered some small limbs to be cleared away but no fallen trees.

Not knowing that Gene and Sandy had checked the rails between Waterville and Blue Rapids, Dave and Kathy Crawford took an evening ride west from Blue Rapids to Waterville.  That trip wasn't a total waste as they were able to return the sprayer trailer to Waterville.  On their ride they encountered a deer and a small group of turkeys walking between the rails.

Tuttle Creek and Big Blue update:

Tuttle Creek is at 1120 ft (45 ft above multipurpose pool elevation) and still releasing at 25,000 cfs which drops the lake about a foot a day.  The Flood Control Storage Space is now down to 75% of capacity.

The Big Blue River at Blue Rapids is at about 46 ft (20 ft above flood stage).

Thursday, July 18, 2019

CBRR Storm Damage

Southern Marshall County had quite a storm roll through early in the morning on Wednesday, July 10.  Blue Rapids had a lot of damage to trees.  It turns out the railroad has quite a few downed trees to deal with also.  Dave and Kathy Crawford went east from Blue Rapids on Tuesday, July 16 and cleared several small trees and branches from the tracks.  Things weren't really too bad until east of the Vista RD crossing where they encountered a large downed tree (first photo below).  The tree was more than they could handle with the saws-all they had with them.

On Thursday, July 18, Gene Harding and Dave Crawford went out with the intention of cutting down that tree, which they did.  Three or four trees later (who's counting) it was time to call it quits and come back another day.  At one point, a deer came along and was very curious about what we were doing.  That provided a short rest break until the deer wandered off.  The deer is near the center of the 2nd (middle) picture.

After cutting down the tree in the last picture, inspection of the track further east revealed another large tree across the rails, thus the decision to return on another day.  The rails between Waterville and Blue Rapids have not been inspected and it is quite likely that some downed tress will be found there as well. (Current lake info follows the pictures.)

PS:  As of Thursday, July 18 the Tuttle Creek Lake elevation is down to 1125 ft.  They are currently releasing at a rate of 25,000 cfs and will do so for several weeks.  The present goal is to get it down to 1105 ft.  A release of 25,000 cfs is about 50,000 acre·ft per day.  They have about 1.34 million acre·ft of water to discharge in order to get back to the normal multipurpose pool elevation of 1075 ft.

The Big Blue River at Blue Rapids is at about 50 ft.  Flood stage is 26 ft so it has about 14 ft to drop in order to be back inside its banks.  Without additional rainfall, the lake and river elevation should drop about 1 ft per day at the present release rate of 25,000 cfs.

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