Growing Up in Kellogg, Part Six

By John Vivian

This is part of a series of previously unpublished excerpts from the author’s reminiscences of his youth, which he assembled for friends and former classmates.

For a kid who loved things that moved, there could be no better place to live in Kellogg than Railroad Avenue. Never mind the three bars on my block. Every neighborhood had bars. Never mind the Miners Rooms at the end of the block. Houses of prostitution weren’t all that uncommon, at least not in Kellogg and Wallace in the 1950s. What made Railroad Avenue special to me were the trains.

The Union Pacific (UP) branch from Spokane via Plummer and Harrison passed our house en route to the Wallace turnaround. A passenger train, in regal yellow, passed each way every day. There was always switching activity, mostly mill concentrates headed for faraway specialty smelters to places that seemed so exotic. As I pieced things together, some went west to Tacoma or to Trail, up in British Columbia. Some went east, transferred to the Northern Pacific at Wallace, and on to East Helena or Anaconda. There was enough rail traffic that the UP stationed a switch engine beyond Hill Street all the time. When I was little, real little, it was a tiny steam engine. Later it was a seven-diesel that they let run all night. This must have been annoying to the people who lived down there, but, hey, it was an industrial town, and if UP found it cheaper to let an engine run at idle all night, who were we to argue?

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Published by John Vivian

John Vivian began his journalism career with the Kellogg Evening News in 1963 and continued with United Press International and the Associated Press. He recently retired as a journalism professor. He wrote the most widely adopted college textbook in the field, The Media of Mass Communication, now in its twelfth edition. He lives in Minnesota but his heart is in the Idaho Panhandle, and he visits every year.