Our Everett Source photographer snapped an early morning shot of a BNSF Engineer (unidentified) coming onto shift aboard the bright orange train engines. Few if any know that the publisher (Jeff Maki) of Everett Source was instrumental in the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Merger.
Remember the dark forest green engines of the Burlington Northern Railroad. Well, back in the early nineties, Burlington Northern used to be headquartered high up in the First Interstate Building in downtown Seattle. Those were the days when Dick Bressler ran the organization, and the Pacific Northwest was the focal point and residence of the management team. Bressler moved the entire Northern Pacific Historic Art collection out to Seattle, and it was always a treat to look at those grand 10 foot wide canvases by famed Western Artist “Ferry”.
Well it turns out that the current Everett Source publisher was the technical writer who created all of the legal descriptions for all of the property sold or transferred back in the day. This was a daunting task when you consider the fact the Burlington Northern was one of the largest land owners in the US at the time. In fact one large half billion dollar land transfer required a team of ten technical writers working overtime for no less than a year. Eventually, the entire corporate headquarters were moved down to Arlington, Texas, and Maki chose to stay up in the spectacular Pacific Northwest. (obviously it was a quality of life choice.)
But a couple of years later, Maki received a call from the Director General of Burlington Northern and the Director said that there was to be a huge merger in the works with the Santa Fe Railway. Maki was one person who had the experience and skills to help pull off the technical writing aspects of the land transfer, and so the Railroad enlisted his services as a consultant for two years to get that part of it done. But the transfer involved thousands of pieces of property and rail lines and you can imagine how in-depth the process was.
So the next time you see an orange Burlington Northern Santa Fe Engine pulling our countries freight, remember that the merger of those four letters (BNSF) was a monumental task that involved thousands of property transactions. The publisher knows, because back in 1999 he was buried to his eyeballs in paper work.
We might want to remember though, was an asset the BNSF railway is not only to Everett, but to the entire Pacific Northwest. Sure it can be a pain to wait for a train at a crossing, and it looks like increased coal shipments from North Dakota will increase the frequency of those waits…..but let’s not forget just how crucial this industry is to the Pacific Northwest economy.