The original Great Northern line through the Cascades Mountain Range was completed in 1892, and reached the summit via a series of switchbacks, climbing to over 4,000 feet about sea level. In 1929, a new tunnel, the Cascade Tunnel, was completed at a length of over 7 miles, which considerably shortened the distance -- naturally, the GN abandoned the original alignment. These pictures show the old tunnels and snowsheds that still remain today on the original right-of-way.
The Original Tunnel Through the Cascades
— User Comments —
Coming across abandoned snowsheds and tunnels such as these would be a truly incredible experience.
Chasing abandoned tunnels and snowsheds is not only an incredible experience but also physically challenging. However this part of railroad history was adopted by the Forest Service and put a cadialac style trail in the abandoned 9.5 miles. The trail was built primarily by volunteers under the direction of the Forest Service. The USFS took great care to preserve the historical features and make them accessible. The lower trail is ADA wheelchair accessible from Martin Creek Trailhead to the lower Scenic trailhead. The 2.2% grade makes this a very easy trail to hike, even with children.
The Iron Goat Trail is a excellent hike and many remains of the GN are still there. At Wellington there is the west portal of the original Cascade Tunnel and the concrete snowsheds.
The GN still lives in the area
I used to live in Everett, and would take my 4X4 up to Wellington. Way back, Wellington [formerly Tye] was the sight one of the worst rail disasters in American history with 100 people killed in an avalanche- looking at the wreckage in the valley below, I don't think they found everyone- with pipe poking up from under house sized boulders.
When was this abandoned?
The official abandonment was 1935 when the salvage crews came in and took everything of value. The new line opened in 1929 when the first official train rolled through the tunnel (despite technical difficulties with condensation shutting down one of the motors). The last passenger train, the Oriental Limited, passed through Tye in January 29. The track was left operational in case of a tunnel problem on the new line.