Feb 8, 2012

Planning to visit sunny Wellington this year?

No, I don't mean the Wellington in New Zealand, but the one in Washington State. 102 years ago on the crest of the Cascade Mountains the most terrible railroad disaster occurred in the United States. For days in February 1910 we had a cold front come in from Canada and a wet front "El Nino" came in from the south over California. The 2 fronts stalled over the Cascades and dumped dozens of feet of wet snow capturing several passenger trains and many pieces of Great Northern railroad equipment and crews in a town called Wellington.

A crew shows how deep it got where the tops of the rotary plows were below the top of the snow. Then the snow slides started and washed all buildings and rail equipment into the ravine.
But before the snow rotaries could be brought in from other regions it was all done by hand as the rotaries that were
here were now at the bottom of the canyon. That structure behind the men is the top of the snow shed where the trains would go through if they could.
Up the hillside somewhere is the main line of the Great Northern. it will be weeks before this electric locomotive will
be moved back to the rails. Over 100 people were killed in this tragedy and it caused Jim Hill to start to build the current 8 mile Cascade Tunnel to avoid this location. Some 19 years later the tunnel was finished and so was Tye, Washington.  They changed the name of the town from Wellington because of this terrible event. I found these photos at an auction in Spokane and I knew they were valuable enough to save them for history. I hope you agree.

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