Vis Major

Vis Major

by Martin Burwash


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Vis Major by Martin Burwash

At 1:43 a.m., March 1, 1910, a wall of snow descended on two Great Northern Railway trains stalled in the town of Wellington, Washington. Ninety-six people died in a single moment. To this day, the Wellington Slide remains North America's worst avalanche disaster. Although other accounts of this monumental event exist, none are told entirely from the perspective of the railroad men who battled the week-long blizzard leading up to the tragedy. Vis Major gives voice to those men.

With vivid imagery and evocative prose, historian Martin Burwash brings railroaders from Cascade Division Superintendent James O'Neill to brakeman Anthony John Dougherty to brilliant life. Relive the crucial moments where men worked feverishly to clear the snow-clogged line over Washington's Stevens Pass and intimately feel the fatigue, frustration, and misery of working hours upon hours in the harsh winter weather or aboard steaming rotary snow plows.

Expertly blending historical fact with railroad knowledge, Burwash delivers an amazing fictional account of this incredible, but often overlooked true event and simultaneously reveals the courage and fortitude of the human spirit.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781440161773
Publisher: iUniverse, Incorporated
Publication date: 08/27/2009
Pages: 480
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.07(d)

About the Author

Vis Major is the culmination of more than 40 years of research by Martin Burwash.
He lives with his wife, Janice, in Burlington, Washington, and they have two grown sons, Seth and Grant. Burwash's other books include Cascade Division and The Great Adventure.

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Vis Major 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Auttum got locked out moved here))
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Autumn Leaf: res 16 Mipoeni: res 45
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fluttershy's cottage is 9 and 10 (double result) and Vynx's house is at 11.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Nymphali and her adopted sister Cesia live in the seventh result. Pinkie will live wherever Sugarcube Corner is claimed. Blackjack and his bro Slick live in eight result.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Claims: Twilxe house is in fourth res, sugarcube corner is res five and also canterlot is one to two.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"Ok. We need someone of purest blood for the big sacrifice. "
SouthernRailroader More than 1 year ago
I have worked on and with the railroad industry for more than 40 years and so I can recommend this book very highly as an excellent read for anyone that wants to know what the real world of the railroad was like in 1910. The Great Northern had only been completed for about 20 years and the Cascade Tunnel was barely 10 years old in 1910. In those days, it took raw bravery, physical strength, and pure intestinal fortitude to work under the conditions described in the book, which were at the time quite normal. Martin tells it like it is, in the colorful language of railroad men, and he tells it in an excellent fashion. I have to tear myself away from this work, and when I do, I even dream about it in my sleep.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Packing both a good piece of historical writing with a natural writing skill Burwash provides the human account of the tragedy at Wellington. As a railfan, photographer, and author Martin knows Stevens pass better than most people ever hope to and it shows in his book. Vis Major is a captivating read cover to cover.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
November 8, 2009 Skagit Valley Herald Burlington author Martin Burwash blends detailed historical fact with fiction to create an engrossing account of America's worst railroad catastrophe and the worst natural disaster in terms of fatalities in Washington state history in his novel "Vis Major: Railroad Men, an Act of God - White Death at Wellington." On the morning of March 1, 1910, an avalanche swept two trains more than 1,000 feet down a mountain and buried them under 400 feet of snow, rocks and trees. Two Great Northern Railroad trains - a passenger train and mail train - were stranded in Wellington, just south of Stevens Pass, for more than a week. Unremitting blizzard conditions and snow slides cut off the tracks to the east and west, and work crews initially were unable to free the passengers. In the end, 96 people died and 23 others survived. Subsequent lawsuits charged that the railroad was negligent in protecting the people on the trains. But Chief Justice Judge Herman D. Crow, speaking for the Washington state Supreme Court in "Topping v. The Great Northern Railroad", ruled, "It is plain from the evidence in the case and from the undisputed facts, that this avalanche was what is known in law as vis major, or an act of God." "Vis Major" is about the men of the railroad - their friendship, bravery, fortitude and endurance in the face of improbable odds and horrific weather conditions. The novel is Burwash's tribute to the real work crews on the rotary snow plows, told from their perspective, as they toiled around the clock in a grueling, snowbound hell, trying to keep the tracks open and the daily trains moving across the Cascade Mountains. Train passengers and townspeople are mentioned only in passing and in relation to the railroad workers. Burwash, a historian and author of two nonfiction works of railroading history, said he's harbored a passionate interest in the Wellington disaster since he was 8 years old. His interest shows: His fictionalized account includes more facts and historical detail than most nonfiction accounts. The book seemed a bit complicated in the beginning, and skips from character to character and back and forth. I found myself reading sections several times to figure out the railroad lingo. But the story picked up once I became familiar with the railroad culture. And Burwash's expertise in the subject and passion for Pacific Northwest railroads brings the men and the events to life for a lively, true-life survival adventure.