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Great Northern & Cascade Railway 7/29/2017

by Chris Guenzler

We woke up and I worked on my Winterail program while the Alkires fixed breakfast. After I checked e-mail, we locked up the house and drove to Skykomish via US 2 east from Everett.

Rocky the Goat welcomes you to Skykomish.

The sign for the Great Northern and Cascade Railway.

Great Northern & Cascade Railway background information

The Great Northern & Cascade Railway Railway offers free train rides to the public as well as a railroad education program. The Railroad operates May through October, every weekend plus holidays. We currently have over 2,700 feet of track. We are working on our second line and when completed we will have 4,000 feet of track.

The GN&C Railway has one locomotive (2-6-0) and plus ten riding cars, built by it's volunteers in addition to all the locomotives owned by our members that they use to give free rides to the public.

In order to operate this railroad, a volunteer organization was formed, the "Great Northern & Cascade Railway". The Great Northern & Cascade Ralway is a Washington State Non-Profit Charity. Members of this organization will be in operational control of all of the aspects of the railroad. This will include the operation of the trains, building of additional track, turntable, and steam-up areas, construction of railroad equipment storage and support buildings, crowd management. All of the above construction is financed from by donations received from operations and the gift store.

My visit and rides

We pulled in and parked and then I saw the first train of the day out on the main line.

The first train of the day with a few passengers aboard.

The first train of the day returns to the station area.

The Skykomish Great Northern depot built in 1898 is used by the group as a gift shop, museum and office.

The engine house of the Great Northern and Cascade Railway.

Former Great Northern SD9 1731, later BN 599, built by Electro-Motive Division in 1958, which was donated to the Great Northern and Cascade Railway by BNSF.

The second train of the day passing the SD9.

The power for the third train of the day. I heard a horn coming up the valley, so I knew the BNSF which had a train waiting at Gold Bar was on its way.

BNSF 6894 East was the first freight train to come through Skykomish this morning. I came back to the grounds and rode my first trip of the morning; I would make fourteen trips, seven on each trainset, during my visit.

Passing by the engine shop.

While I was on my first trip, BNSF 6917 West came through with the Boeing airplane fuselages.

We are about to enter the east portal of the Cascade Tunnel in reduced size. We came back to the boarding area and I switched to the other train and went the other way around the track.

The trestle made out of railroad ties.

About to enter the west portal of the Cascade Tunnel.

The Boeing fuselages on their special train cars on their way to Renton.

The rear of BNSF 6917 West.

I next set up at the west portal of the Cascade Tunnel to catch the next train which Michael Heath was operating and Elizabeth was riding.

The train approaches the east portal of the Cascade Tunnel.

The train exits the Cascade Tunnel's west portal.

Elizabeth brings up the rear as she loves to ride trains as much as I do.

Bob is operating this train with Elizabeth as a passenger, crossing the trestle made from railroad ties.

The next train crosses the trestle and then crosses the road into the property. I heard another horn down the valley and went back to the grade crossing to catch the next train.

BNSF 7514 East with the empty airplane cars in its consist. I took two more sets of rides and when I returned, I heard another horn down in the valley coming my way. So back to the grade crossing I went.

BNSF 6073 East with an empty coal train and DPU BNSF 8594. After this, Elizabeth and I went to the Cascadia Inn where I had a French Dip sandwich and unsalted French fries which really hit the spot. We returned to the grounds and I rode two more trips. When I heard another horn, I returned to the grade crossing.

Citirail 1308 East with another empty coal train for the Powder River Basin in Wyoming.

Another westbound, BNSF 4613 West, finally came through Skykomish. Elizabeth and I made four more trips.

Here is a picture of the F3A and F3B units in Great Northern colors that are not operational at the current time.

The Carson Valley Express had been pushed out of the engine house as well. We made our final two trips and once I was back, I heard a train horn in the valley to the west and returned to the grade crossing.

BNSF 8361 East was the last train I saw here this afternoon. The signal had turned green so I knew we had a westbound train coming. I waited and waited, and waited some more. But then Elizabeth caught my attention and so I shot my last two pictures of that eastbound train.

The shot from the grade crossing.

The shot on the way to the car. Today they had 451 riders and donations of about $350. I really enjoyed my visit to this unique railroad and highly recommend to anyone in the Pacific Northwest or visiting the area between the months of May and the end of October to come and ride this train as it is free to all. We left Skykomish and stopped by Union Bank in Monroe so Bob could make the day's deposit and I could get more cash. We then went to The Buzz Inn Steakhouse where I had an eight ounce top sirloin steak which was excellent, after which we returned to the Alkire's house for the night and watched "NCIS".