Interview With William E. Matheson

 

From the interview with William E. Matheson of Port Hadlock, WA conducted by Henry West at the Fort Worden History Center on November 7, 2002. Mr. Matheson worked at Fort Worden from December 1, 1959 to July 1, 1985. He began as maintenance shop supervisor during the Juvenile Diagnostic and Treatment Center days and retired as Plant Manager, working for Washington State Parks. Here he describes unearthing a relic of the Fort’s early days as an Army post:

“I was involved in locating the Dinky Locomotive that was lost for 60 years here at Fort Worden. It was used in the construction of Fort Worden, Fort Flagler and Fort Casey across the water. They would transport the little engine on barges back and forth to use in construction. Lance Covely, Joe Benson and I were tearing down a building on the waterfront by the dock and we found it buried in the sand. That was in February 1973. There was no map or record of where it was buried. They knew it was buried somewhere but thought it was much north of where it was found. If that building hadn’t been torn down it never would have been found. When I dug away this metal object I could see that it was a wheel of a locomotive because of the way it was made…it was lying on its top. Apparently the track was there that the locomotive sat on and when they got word to bury it because it would be too costly to junk it,(records show that this was in 1913) they just dug a hole alongside the railroad track and pushed and tipped it over so that it landed on its top. We notified the park manager and the word spread rapidly that the locomotive had been found. We had (railroad buffs) coming from all over—Portland, Seattle, Port Angeles. We called an engineering company in Port Townsend to come with their equipment and lift the locomotive out of the hole and put it on a lowboy trailer and move it into one of our buildings. It took a little work but we were able to get cables around it. We didn’t want to injure it by lifting it, so the cables were placed just a certain way. After we got it right side up and on the ground, we noticed that the wheels turned and the door to the firebox could swing open, the inside still had charcoal that hadn’t burned completely. It was quite an excitement.”

{Note: As of 2012, the Dinky Locomotive that was found in 1973 still awaits restoration in Bldg. 265, the Motor Pool Building.}

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