The western expansion, and the migration of pioneers, upon the Oregon Trail set the ground work, pun intended, for the earliest of American railroads. The first transcontinental rails were completed on May, 10 1869 when the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroad lines connected, and rail leaders drove the final spike at Promontory Summit – Utah Territory. The joining of the two railroads gave rise to an ever expanding rail system that lead to Washington’s first railway.
In July 1851, Francis A. Chenoweth (1819-1899), who moved west from Wisconsin in 1849 and settled near present day Bonneville Dam on the north side of the Columbia River, begins operating what can be described as the first railroad in the Northwest. Variously estimated at two to four miles long, it is a wood-tracked portage railroad, established to carry freight and passengers around the Cascades rapids in the Columbia River — downstream from present-day Stevenson, Washington, and upstream from Bonneville Dam.
The Columbia River rapids were so swift and treacherous in that area that riverboats could not negotiate them and had to load and unload people and goods at either end of the rapids. Chenoweth’s railroad carried them from one boat to the other to continue the trip.
His railroad was a crude wooden flat car pulled by a mule over fixed wooden rails mounted on a bed of planks.
Steel rails and steam power would follow in 1863 when a tiny, steam-powered locomotive named the Ann went into service on the Bradford Brothers’ line, which had been rebuilt and extended to six miles. The Ann was a duplicate of the Oregon Pony, which by then was operating on the south shore and is still on display at Marine Park in Cascade Locks, Oregon. As Theodore Winthrop and John Harvey Williams have written, “out of the feeble runway and Chenoweth’s scow grew the great transportation system of the Columbia.” – HistoryLink.org
As a deep part of Washington’s history, the railroad has played a pivotal role in the development and transportation of goods and supplies from the Cascades to the Puget Sound. Railroads connected Monte Cristo, Snohomish and Lake Stevens, Marysville, Monroe, and Everett. Serving as the primary means of transportation, the Snohomish County region was made accessible to Seattle bringing prosperity to the region. As time passed, Snohomish County became less dependent on trains as the horseless carriage took hold. Though no longer the primary mode of transportation, these iron work horses now carry passengers on scenic tours that will transport you back in time.
On March 25, 1872, workers complete a narrow gauge railroad in Seattle that runs from south Lake Union to the foot of Pike Street. The railroad becomes the first in Western Washington.
Part of the Newcastle coal mines transportation system, the railroad’s construction lasted from the summer of 1871 until March 25, 1872. On the day of completion, free rides were given all day. – HistoryLink.org
The Spirit of Washington Dinner Train was the most popular train ride in Washington. The Spirit of Washington Dinner Train used to depart Tacoma’s Historic Freighthouse Square onward towards Mount Rainier while passing through Frederickson and Graham onto its destination at Lake Kapowsin. Unfortunately, as of Oct 29, 2007, the Spirit of Washington Dinner train no longer provides tours. With that said, the Spirit of Washington Dinner Train wasn’t the only train ride available.
Washington’s Deadliest Train Crash
In the comments below, it has been mentioned of a haunted train in Snohomish County yet as a life long resident its hard to believe. Though, while doing research I came across of the story of the Wellington 1910 crash but never put it together that the Wellington crash was the United States worst train accident. In February 1910, and under Stevens Pass, on a route from Spokane to Seattle, two trains (a passenger train and a mail train) where caught in a blizzard and had to wait out the storm. Not knowing the avalanche dangers of the Stevens Pass area, the passengers gracefully waited all the while the snow began to pile up then …
Late on February 28, the snow stopped and was replaced by rain and a warm wind. Just after 1 a.m. on March 1, as a result of a lightning strike, a slab of snow broke loose from the side of Windy Mountain during a violent thunderstorm. A ten-foot high mass of snow, half a mile long and a quarter of a mile wide, fell toward the town. A forest fire had recently ravaged the slopes above the town, leaving very little to impede the avalanche. – Wikipedia.org
Train Rides in Snoqualmie Washington
In the city of Snoqualmie, home of the Northwest Railway Museum. The Northwest Railway Museum offers train rides throughout the spring and summer months and even hosts celebrity appearances, most particularly by Thomas the Train. Popular with today’s kids, Thomas the Train has brought an opportunity for children to ride a icon while playing with hands on trains exhibits. See Thomas the Train in July 2012. The Northwest Railway Museum also has special events rides around Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. This gives the museum the chance to share experiences and teach the historic importance of railways to Washington residents and visitors. Plan a vacation with the family and/or friends and enjoy a locomotive ride and become a part of history.
Train Rides with the Chehalis-Centralia Railroad & Museum
The Chehalis-Centralia Railroad & Museum‘s 2012 season embarks on with their Riverview Coach Ride Excursions and Brunch Train rides to Ruth as well as Coach Train Excursions to Milburn. Board and be transported back in time on the “Chehalis & Cascade No. 15, a Baldwin-built 2-8-2 “Mikado” type steam locomotive”.
The Chehalis-Centralia Railroad & Museum is a non-profit organization based in Washington State. It’s goal is to preserve the logging and railroading heritage of Lewis County in specific, and Southwest Washington State in general, in the form of a railroad and a historic, living museum.
Train Rides to Leavenworth Washington
Alki Tours’ offers two train rides to Leavenworth yet these train rides don’t come without a price. With a $499.00 price tag, Alki Tour’s can make for a pricey get-a-way though the views through the Cascades and Highway 2 are priceless. This coming 2012 season, there are two rides Leavenworth’s Octoberfest and Treelighting Festival. There is no information on the type of train provided by Alki Tours but if you still want to go jump on Amtrak out of Everett for a $16 – $25 per person ticket. Yet with Leavenworth a short distance from Snohomish County, you maybe thinking the ride is just not long enough? Embark on Amtrak’s Empire Builder through Leavenworth onto Spokane and its final destination in Chicago.
Train Rides in Snohomish County
Not so Famous Train Rides: Out of Everett, jump on the Amtrak or the Sounder to head to Seattle, Portland or other destinations along their route. Mickie has taken her grandsons to Seattle and back via the train which makes for great memories. I have taken the Sounder down to CenturyLink Field for Seahawks game – very nice if you plan to have a few drinks.
Train Rides with Chelatchie Prairie Railroad – BYCX
The Chelatchie Prairie Railroad – BYCX is “an all volunteer, non-profit organization, operating excursion train rides in Yacolt, WA”. They offer a wide range of train rides and the schedule is online with my favorite, Train Robbery Specials, being in August. Other notable train rides are: Mother’s & Father’s Day, Independence Day, Headless Horseman Halloween Special, and Christmas Tree Specials.
Join us for a 10 mile round trip, from Yacolt to Lucia, through beautiful north Clark County stopping at Moulton Falls County Park: along the way to Moulton Falls you will see the Lewis River from our cliffside vantage point and experience the darkness of a 330 tunnel carved out of solid rock.
Train Rides with Lake Whatcom Railway
Though using a diesel powered train, the Lake Whatcom Railway offers an experience to ride 1910 to 1925 passenger coaches used on the east coast as well as Seattle (in the 1940′s). Building on the authenticity, the Lake Watchom Railway has “ancient wooden freight cars from the Great Northern Railway are also on the premises“. Train rides include Easter Train, Mother’s Day Train, Father’s Day Train, Autumn Train, and a Christmas Train.
Your ride starts in Wickersham and first goes a short distance along Highway 9, then through a small tunnel, along Mirror Lake, and out into the woods. There is a stop at a meadow in the woods where people can get off and explore the area including looking at the engine or hiking a short distance to a waterfall.
Train Rides with Mt. Rainer Scenic Railroad
Visit one of the most beautiful places in Washington with the Mt. Rainer Scenic Railroad in a legendary ride on of their steam or diesel locomotives: Hammond Lumber Co. 2-8-2T #17, Hillcrest Lumber Co. 3-truck Climax #10 West Fork Logging Co. 3-truck Heisler #91, Northern Pacific EMD F9 #7012A, MRSR EMD NW2 #481. With special events and train rides boarding Saturday, April 7th at 10am, 12:45 & 3pm.
The longest continuously operating steam train railroad in the Pacific Northwest, the MRSR is the result of one man’s passion to preserve a colorful slice of America’s heritage. In February, 1980 the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific Railroad (more commonly known as the Milwaukee Road) shut down their lines in Washington including their 66-mile branch from Tacoma to Morton. The rail line was acquired by Weyerhaeuser Timber Company, and a deal was soon struck between Tom Murray, Jr. and good friend George Weyerhaeuser giving the newly formed Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad access to a portion of the line for tourist train service.