Tumwater Dam sits in Tumwater Canyon and is a fun, and surprisingly historically significant, place to visit.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Tumwater Dam is the only dam on the Wenatchee River. It sits just west of Leavenworth.