Tumwater Dam sits in Tumwater Canyon and is a fun, and surprisingly historically significant, place to visit.
Tumwater Canyon is a beautiful drive most times of the year. You get to see the rugged rocky canyon walls, the raging Wenatchee River, and can even stop at places like Tumwater Dam, The Alps Candy Store, or Swift Current Picnic Area. Another spot worth checking out is one that usually just gets driven right by, the Tumwater Pipeline Bridge.
The entrance to the parking lot of this secluded little spot is just a couple miles west of Leavenworth. Find a parking spot, walk down to the little beach, there’s even a restroom there. Take a look around though. Look at the decaying walls and leftover building remnants that make up the spot where you’ve parked your car. You’re parked right where a pretty decent sized powerhouse once sat, making electricity from water from the Wenatchee River to use to help the electric trains get through the Old Cascade Tunnel under Stevens Pass to the west side of the mountains.
That water was brought to the power generating plant through a pipeline from the Tumwater Dam. That pipeline came down the south side of the Wenatchee River and crossed the river on a bridge before reaching this spot. The building is long gone as is the pipeline, but the bridge is still there.
Walk around the “Road Closed” barricade at the west end of the parking area and a very short trail leads you to the pipeline bridge. Basically, the bridge is just as it was back in the time of power production except for the top half of the pipe having been cut off. The lower section was then filled in with material to give it a flat surface and a pedestrian bridge was born. The trail continues up the path of the old pipeline grade on the other side of the river and offers a nice leisurely stroll along the Wenatchee River. When you reach a large rock pile, you’ve reached the end. Some people do scramble over the rocks while most turn around and return to the pipeline bridge and the parking area.
When water is lower in late summer, the beach area grows and offers enough space for a few families to enjoy the sun and the cold water of the Wenatchee River.
The Tumwater Pipeline Bridge is another of the many fun stops along Highway 2 in Tumwater Canyon.
If you’ve never stopped at the Tumwater Dam, a huge mistake as far as I’m concerned, you may not have noticed anything different recently. If you haven’t stopped there in awhile, you may not have noticed either. But, if you’re a regular visitor to this cool little historic spot on the eastern slopes of the Cascade Mountains, you should notice almost immediately that something is a little different.
For years, perched atop the rim of the dam and resting down on its concrete apron has been a very large tree that had floated there down the Wenatchee River. Through high spring runoffs and fall storms, the tree clung to the dam like it was part of it. It had to have been there for at least the better part of a decade.
It finally got washed over though with the high water from a late fall storm this past November.
The Wenatchee River flows from Lake Wenatchee to the Columbia River and along the way passes by and through some scenic little areas. One of those is Tumwater Canyon. Here we see an old metal bridge that now carries a hiking trail across the river and up the shore on the opposite side.
The Chiwaukum Creek Fire continued to burn during the week of July 20th. Highway 2 remained closed from Leavenworth, at the mouth of the Tumwater Canyon, to Coles Corner in the west. A detour opened up on highway 207 that went out to Lake Wenatchee State Park and the Chumstick Highway through Plain.
The Green Bridge, located at the top of Tumwater Canyon, was originally built as a railroad bridge in 1900. In 1936, it was moved to where it spanned the Wenatchee River and converted to a highway bridge. Due to it being declared obsolete and deficient in regards to current bridge standards, a new bridge was built right next to it beginning in the summer of 2011.
Though it had aged quite a bit and was probably not something special to look at for most people, the Green Bridge was somewhat of a local landmark in North Central Washington. Depending on the direction of travel, it was either a sign you were getting close to Leavenworth or a sign that you were leaving civilization behind and what laid ahead was either Lake Wenatchee or Stevens Pass.
The new bridge is open now and it and the connecting highway have improved the travel conditions there immensely. The new bridge is perfect for handling the bigger rigs and oversize loads that travel the highways today. Loads that people 75 years ago never thought could be hauled down the road. For those wanting a walk down memory lane, or a drive to be more correct, here’s an animation from the old Green Bridge.
And here’s a look at it that you may never see again as the metal structure is slated to come down this summer. Here’s the Green Bridge’s frame without the road deck present anymore.
The new bridge is great… but it’s no Green Bridge.
Another Sunday saw us taking another Sunday road trip. This time it was a short drive just past Leavenworth and through the Tumwater Canyon which is an absolutely gorgeous part of North Central Washington. Tucked away on the west end of the canyon is The Alps Candy Store which is a very special place, whether you are traveling with kids or not.
You walk in and the shelves are filled with candies, hot sauces, relishes, and more.
In the basement is a cool little place called the kids candy room. It is filled with brightly colored treats, some famous brand names and some things you haven’t seen for probably decades. It may be called the kids candy room but I can tell you it’s for adults too.
Up at the front counter back upstairs is one of the most impressive sights you are sure to see. This is where the fresh homemade fudge sits just waiting to be sampled, purchased, and of course eaten. They have an incredible selection of flavors, some you would probably never even have thought of. Getting a nice sized chunk to take home or eat during your drive is a great idea. You can also buy just a small square if that’s what you want too. This is one of the things that will make you stop back at The Alps Candy Store the next time you go driving by.
The Wenatchee River leaves Lake Wenatchee and takes a somewhat winding course towards the Columbia River in the east. One of the more dramatic parts of its run is when it flows through Tumwater Canyon. When the water is high here, the whitewater is particularly impressive. This is a very popular destination for kayakers.
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.