Tag Archives: Stevens Pass

5 Fun Facts About Stevens Pass In North Central Washington

Cascade Tunnel

Stevens Pass is one of the most dominant transportation related features in North Central Washington. It’s home to a major highway leading over the Cascade Mountains and the very popular Stevens Pass Ski Area.

Here are five fun facts about Stevens Pass.

How High?

At its highest point, Stevens Pass has an elevation of 4,061 feet above sea level.

Where’d That Name Come From?

Stevens Pass was named for John Frank Stevens, a Northern Pacific Railway employee who was the first non-indigenous person to discover this crossing over the Cascade Mountains.

Fire Victim

The original ski lodge where today’s Stevens Pass Ski Area is located was a building built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1937. It burned down in 1940.

That Long Ago?

The original Cascade Tunnel that brought trains beneath Stevens Pass was 2.63 miles in length and was opened in 1900.

Railroad Tragedy

On the western slopes of Stevens Pass is the historic site of Wellington. This was once a railroad town and is the site of the deadliest avalanche in United States history.

Five Fun Facts About North Central Washington Railroad

North Central Washington has a fascinating history in a number of respects. From the fruit industry to mining, forestry, livestock, and more, there is a lot of note that has happened within the region. The region also has a long history with the railroad industry.

Here is a look at five fun facts about North Central Washington Railroad.

The Cascade Tunnel

The Cascade Tunnel is the longest railroad tunnel in the United States at 7.79 miles in length. It was put into service in 1929 and is still in operation.

Oh… The Power!

The first Cascade Tunnel was electrified. It received its power from a small powerhouse that made electricity on the Wenatchee River just west of Leavenworth and below the Tumwater Dam.

The Shortest In The State

For a time, the shortest established railroad in Washington State was the Waterville Railway. This railroad operation ran from the town of Waterville east for four and a half miles to the town of Douglas. From there, it linked with the Mansfield branch of the Great Northern Railway.

Big Bang!

On August 6, 1974, an explosion was heard in South Wenatchee that ended up killing two people and injuring 66. The explosion came from a tanker car carrying chemicals that was in the Appleyard Terminal on the southern end of town. The blast left a crater in the railyard that measured 35 feet deep, 60 feet wide, and 80 feet long.

Highway 2’s Previous Life

Today, Highway 2 runs through Tumwater Canyon on its way from Leavenworth to Stevens Pass. The road bed that carries the highway was once the original mainline route for the Great Northern Railway before it was rerouted though Chumstick Canyon.

Stop At The Stevens Pass Ski Area For A Great Meal

Stevens Pass Summit

The Stevens Pass Ski Area has been welcoming visitors for decades and showing them a great time. This spectacular venue has some of the best skiing and snowboarding available in the state of Washington. It really has earned the reputation it enjoys and, of course, all of the return visitors going there to enjoy a day out on the slopes.

That’s not the only reason to stop at the top of Stevens Pass. The truth is, in addition to being a great skiing destination, the Stevens Pass Ski Area is a nice place to head to for a good bite to eat.

Lucky for those who come, they have several different eating out opportunities. Here is a looking at the dining options at the Stevens Pass Ski Area.

EAT OUT AT STEVENS PASS

The Foggy Goggle
The Foggy Goggle offers a full service restaurant featuring family seating and a great menu consisting of comfort food, sandwiches, and more. There is also a lounge to enjoy too if you’re over 21 years of age.

Tye Creek Deli
The Tye Creek Deli features a unique Asian menu that is popular with a great many people who head there. Also available are deli sandwiches, soups, and their famous build your own baked potato bar. This is the place to go for reasonably priced food that the whole family will love.

Outer Limits Grill
The Outer Limits Grill features some great burgers and a very nice setting that sets it apart from some of the other food venues on the mountain. This is usually a less crowded area too and a find place to get away from the crowds.

Taco Stop
Made to order Mexican food is not what one immediately thinks they’ll find at the top of the mountain. The Taco Stop though is waiting to create just what you’d like to eat, just the way you want it. This is another of the more affordable places to get a bit to eat at when visiting the Stevens Pass Ski Area.

Iron Goat Pizza Station
Sometimes the only type of food that will do for you is pizza. Real good pizza is something everyone enjoys and it’s something served regularly at the Iron Goat Pizza Station. This is a fun family setting that is very popular with Stevens Pass regulars.

The Bull’s Tooth Pub & Eatery
The Bull’s Tooth Pub & Eatery at the Stevens Pass Ski Area is one of the main restaurants and is very popular. They serve tons of great food you’re sure to enjoy like salmon burgers, chicken, nachos, pulled pork sandwiches, and their famous seasoned curly fries. Even the locals like to come up the mountain to get a bite at the Bull’s Tooth Pub & Eatery.

Check out the Stevens Pass Ski Area dining options online:

Eat Out At The Stevens Pass Ski Area

Utilize The WSDOT’s Mountain Passes Pages!

WSDOT Mountain Pass Page

Will you be driving into or out of the North Central Washington region during the winter months? One of the best tools you can have to prepare for the drive comes courtesy of the Washington State Department of Transportation. Right on their website, one link away from their homepage, is the mountain passes page.

The WSDOT’s Mountain Passes page is home to links to every mountain pass in the entire state. Then when you open those links up, you’ll see the current temperature, road conditions, any planned maintenance, and also images from some of the traffic cameras.

Here in North Central Washington the main passes we care about are Blewett, Stevens, and Snoqualmie. Knowing before you go what the conditions are there can help in planning how long your trip might take, knowing what to expect, and even knowing if you should reschedule your trip across the mountains. You can find all that and more on the WSDOT’s mountain pass page.

A very valuable tool for us travelers, especially in winter, check out the WSDOT’s Mountain Passes page.

WSDOT Mountain Pass Page

The Washington State D.O.T. Incident Response Truck On Stevens Pass

Those of you who have made the trip back and forth across Stevens Pass during the winter know that traveling can at times seem a little treacherous. The Washington State Department of Transportation has a number of plow trucks and other maintenance vehicles that assist in keeping the pass not only open but safe to travel. One that people don’t see too often is the Incident Response Truck.

The Incident Response Truck resembles a pickup type truck with a sort of camper unit on the back. In reality this vehicle is set up to almost perfectly handle any situation that should arise on the roads. The Incident Response Truck can assist emergency vehicles who are responding to disasters like flooding, rock slides, and avalanches. It can also assist stranded motorists who are having either mechanical or other problems. The number one priority of the truck is to restore normal traffic flow as safely and quickly as possible. This can mean adding a gallon of gas to a traveler’s empty tank or actually pushing a disabled vehicle out of the roadway and onto the shoulder.

So if you’re driving across Stevens and you see a large white pickup with a WSDOT logo on the door, be appreciative that its there and should you need assistance know that it may be on the way.

Check out more info on WSDOT’s Incedent Response Program here: WSDOT Incident Response

Fun Facts About The Cascade Tunnel

The Cascade Tunnel is one of the more impressive engineering feats pulled off in the North Central Region, if not in the entire history of railroad construction. At just less than eight miles in length, this tunnel continues to carry railroad traffic beneath, or through, Stevens Pass to this day. Here are five fun facts about the Cascade Tunnel.

-When it opened in 1929, the Cascade Tunnel was officially known as the Great Northern Railway Eight-Mile Tunnel.

-It took three years and cost $14.1 milion to complete the construction of Cascade Tunnel.

-While building the Cascade Tunnel, work crews not only worked from both ends, but a shaft over 600 feet in depth had been build higher up on the mountain so that crews could also start in the center and dig towards both ends as well.

-Construction crews employed as many as 1.750 men at one time working round the clock on the building of the Cascade Tunnel.

-Rock removed from the digging of the Cascade Tunnel was crushed and used as the bedding material for a new stretch of tracks known as the Chumstick Cutoff that rerouted the railroad from going up through Tumwater Canyon.

History and Hiking at Wellington, Washington

Snowshed at Wellington

North Central Washington is known as the home to some of the best hiking in the state. The region is also home to some incredible history, though that is quite a bit more unknown. One destination that can give you a taste of both is the site of a long ago abandoned railroad town called Wellington.

Wellington is located just off Highway 2 on the west side of Stevens Pass. You can reach it by turning off on the north side of the highway on the first opportunity west of the pedestrian bridge at the summit. After following the road for a couple of miles, you will reach the parking lot. Once there, you will find a well developed trailhead, restrooms, and some historical information.

At this site in 1910, 96 people passed away when a massive avalanche came down the hillside and overwhelmed a train that was stuck on the tracks. Some of the deceased were passengers and some were railroad workers. As a way of escaping its past, the town was renamed Tye after the nearby Tye River but it would become abandoned a short time later.

The Iron Goat Trail is accessible from the Wellington parking lot and is the key attraction there. When you take the trail to the east, a short walk will lead you past the remnants and foundations of railroad buildings from long ago. There are markers along the way that describe all that used to be there. At the end of this short walk is the western end to the Old Cascade Tunnel, a tunnel once used to carry the railroad from one side of the Cascade Mountains to the other. Signs warn about the danger of entering the tunnel, but viewing and photographing it from the outside is well worth the trip.

Wellington

Taking the trail west from the parking lot is pretty eye opening. This is a longer trail and is popular with through hikers who want to do the entire route which stretches for more than six miles. Along this stretch of the trail are several examples of concrete snowsheds. These snowsheds were built after the Wellington disaster and you can hike right through many of them on paths where once passenger and freight trains came roaring through. This is a look at a real part of railroad history that you cannot easily see anywhere else.

Whether looking for a historical attraction or a chance to get out in the outdoors, Wellington is a good choice. No matter which of the reasons you’re looking to go, you’ll probably find enjoyment in the other too. Wellington is a regional treasure and one that any resident of North Central Washington or visitor coming its way would love to see.

Fun Facts About The Stevens Pass Ski Area

The Stevens Pass Ski Area has for a very long time been one of the top recreational destinations in North Central Washington. Visitors can head there for great skiing in the winter and in recent years have been able to take advantage of a new mountain biking course in the summer.

Here is a look at five fun facts about the Stevens Pass Ski Area.

-The Stevens Pass Ski Area sits on the slopes of Big Chief Mountain and Cowboy Mountain.

-The Stevens Pass Ski Area has 1,125 acres of skiable terrain.

-The original ski lodge at Stevens Pass was constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1937. This lodge burned down just three years later.

-The top elevation at the Stevens Pass Ski Area is 5,845 feet on Cowboy Mountain. The base elevation there is 4,061 feet. That’s a total drop of 1,784 feet in elevation.

-When the Stevens Pass Ski Area opened in 1937, drivers from the Seattle side could not drive all the way to the lodge and ski runs. The road was closed six miles to the west and they had to hike in or take a train.

A Visit To Wellington, Washington

Wellington, Washington?

Where is that?

Well, it’s not as familiar sounding as many of the community names, but Wellington is located just on the west side of the summit of Stevens Pass. This is the original name of a small railroad community that was found there in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Situated right near the old exit point of the original Cascade Tunnel under Stevens Pass, Wellington became nationally famous in 1910 when the deadliest avalanche in American history occurred there. Snow and debris came roaring down the mountain that day, ultimately killing 96 people including both passengers on a train as well as railroad workers clearing snow from the tracks.

All that is left of Wellington now are some old foundations of some of buildings there that were used to service the trains as they entered or exited the tunnel. It is also the eastern trailhead of the Iron Goat Trail, a popular hiking trail in the region. If you visit Wellington today, you can view these old railroad ruins, check out the mouth of the old Cascade Tunnel, and even walk through the remnants of a snowshed that was built in the years following the avalanche as a way of protecting trains and their passengers.

NCWWellington2

The old tunnel is a very cool thing to see and gives a great glimpse into history. There are plenty of signs though that warn of how dangerous it is to enter it and it’s recommended visitors listen to those signs. The tunnel is on the National Historic Registry too and getting the opportunity to combine history and nature like this is not always possible. After a visit to the tunnel via a very short path to the east from the parking lot, you can return and head west into the snowshed.

NCWWellington3

The snowshed is dark and cool. If you’re going there early or late in the year you’ll want to wear a light jacket even if the sun is shining outside. If you’re traveling with kids, this is where the fun starts. The path is even and straight and there are small wooden bridges over the small areas where runoff water passes through so they can run ahead, sprint back, and burn off plenty of energy.

About halfway through, there is a short side trail that leads outside the snowshed to a viewpoint that details the history behind the avalanche that happened there.

NCWWellington4

After that, you return to the snowshed and continue heading west. Along the way, take note of the difference between what’s inside the snowshed and outside of it. Every once in awhile you’ll come across a small pine tree that is unlucky enough to have started its life as a sapling growing up inside a concrete structure. You’ll also see plenty of evidence of the railroad tracks that once ran through the snowshed in the form of old and decaying railroad ties. There are also spots where rebar is becoming visible from inside the concrete supports, roof, and walls. This is a sign that this structure won’t be here forever. Taking the opportunity to see it up close and in person while we can is another reason for visiting it.

NCWWellington1

When you reach the end of the snowshed, you’ll see what I think is a look at the whole structure’s future. Here, the trail leads you back outside where you can view a portion of the shed’s decaying process in action. The roof has fallen in and chunks of concrete are hanging in the twisted metal that supports them. You can continue on from there, further on down the Iron Goat Trail, or turn around and return to the parking lot where you started.

NCWWellington5

A visit to Wellington is a unique opportunity to stretch your legs in the great outdoors, see a couple of regionally important pieces of history up close and in person, and also learn a good deal about the history of the region. Adults and kids will both enjoy the time they get to spend there.

NCW Photo of the Week: Tumwater Dam in Tumwater Canyon

Tumwater Dam sits in Tumwater Canyon, just west of Leavenworth, and was originally built in the early 1900’s. It once provided electricity to the first Stevens Pass railroad tunnel. It is a very scenic little dam and the surrounding canyon is always very pretty. During high water, it is particularly impressive to see.