COBWEB CORNERS: Home for a dinky and art at Windy Point
By Mel McFarland
So, after I wrote about the “dinky” streetcars up Ruxton three weeks ago, I was asked, “What happened to them after the line closed?” Now, usually that is not a good story, but for the enclosed dinky, it was. The car was taken up the cog track to Minnehaha, while I suspect the two open dinkies were scrapped.
Track maintenance crews, commonly known as "section crews" because they were assigned to a maintenance section of the track, lived on the mountain in the summer. The sections were called Minnehaha, Mountain View and Windy Point. The upper two section houses, where the crews lived, still exist, most visibly Windy Point, which is a stone building. Mountain View used one of the cog's old passenger cars, and part of it still functions as a shelter.
The Minnehaha site is clear now, but once it had a little frame building, and in the 1930s the dinky was placed next to it for additional storage.
I would not know this had it not been for the Taggart family. I did a story about the Taggarts, specifically Johnny Taggart, in the Westside Pioneer in 2008. Johnny's father, Brough Taggart, was the section boss at the cog for many years. Johnny lived as a kid in the section houses along the line, later working in the shops and as an engineer. He had a collection of old family pictures, a couple of which showed the dinky at Minnehaha. There were stories that it was a car from the Midland Terminal, but once I saw the pictures I knew what it really was. The whole set of buildings there was removed in the early 1960s.
The Windy Point building is still used for storage. Its early doors, windows, and wooden floor are gone. Plywood covers the doors and windows, but the marmots chew on the wood. A few years ago one door was eaten away up as high as the marmots could stand. The section crew replaced it, but in a different way. Now if you go by the building it looks as if it has nice doors and windows. Those are only "scenery," actually painted to look like that. The door even has Brough Taggart's name on it. The end where the Taggarts lived has a face looking out, which is supposed to be Johnny!
The painter, as well as the person who maintains it, is a local artist… me. It is fun each spring to touch up the artwork. It gets rather beaten up in the winter winds. Each year the scene is a bit different - flowers and curtains in the windows, for example. It is fun to see a hiker walk up to and try to grab the painted door knob!