Posts Tagged washington

Towal (pronounced toll)

Dec 23rd, 2010 Posted in General Musings | no comment »

I was named after a (flooded) railroad station (stop).  I had always thought it flooded several years after my birth, so around 1969 and to be honest, even as much as I am online, I never really had done a whole lot of research into the origin of my name.

Some years ago, I had come to believe that the story I had been given as a child for the reason I was named after the railroad stop was a bit…sanitized..to make it a bit more “family friendly” and I guess I had just never really given it a whole lot of thought.  When people asked the origin of my name, I gave them the story I was told, sometimes with my feelings added about why I thought it may not be the entire story, sometimes not (depending on who it was that asked).

Since the stop was flooded many years ago, it has not been listed on maps, essentially the entirety of my lifetime.  This has always made me kind of sad because being named after a specific place, it would be nice to be able to actually show people, particularly since it is an unusual name.    My great aunt, did find an atlas many years ago in her attic that had it listed, but during the course of several moves, I had lost the atlas page 🙁

A week or so ago, I was talking to a friend on the phone and he, in turn, was talking to someone on IM who asked about my name.   I wasn’t doing anything at the time and for some reason, I decided to see what I could find on the internet regarding Towal, Washington, my namesake.

First, I was excited to see that not only did mapquest have it listed in their map, but they actually show it being underwater…how accurate!

(click to enlarge)

I also found mention of it on a page talking about the North Bank Railroad Centennial:

When the North Bank line first opened there were 43 regular stops for trains, besides numerous flag stops. Beginning at Vancouver and heading eastward the list of stations were: Image, Fisher, Bourne, Seal, Cruzatt, Butler, Cascades, Stevenson,Ash, Collins, Cooks, Hood, Bingen, Villa, Lyle, Skadat, Grandalles, Spedis, Avery, Timms, Columbus, Cliffs, Towal, Harbin, Fountain, Sanda,  Roosevelt, Moonax, McCredie, Carley, Luzon, Sage, Patterson, Coolidge, Gravel, Plymouth, Colbia, Mottinger, Tomar, Yellepit, Hover and Finley. A “flag stop” meant that someone would “flag” the train to stop if there were passengers needing to ride.

I did find a photo of an archaeological dig from prior to the flood here: http://www.columbiariverman.com/Page6/wst_page6.html (you have to scroll down about 1/2 way to picture 14). That gave me a clue when it mentioned the John Day dam flood.

I always thought the flood was in 1969, but according to this it was actually before I was born in April 1967 (I was born in Sept).

I also found this article: http://www.ccrh.org/comm/umatilla/primary/relocate.htm

It doesn’t talk about Towal specifically, but does talk about how they had to relocate towns/roads/railroad stations in the surrounding area when they began construction of the John Day dam, which I thought was interesting and I’m sure that Towal was one of the involved areas, given that when the dam did flood, it was flooded.

I wonder if I can contact the railroad for any historical information on the station/area.   I may check into that at some point.