N.P. Ry.

Stampede Pass



139.6 miles from Yakima.

103.0 miles from Ellensburg.

000.0 miles from Auburn.

Elevation in feet: 98.

Interchange(s): Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railway, Great Northern Railway, Union Pacific Railroad.

Telegraph call: AU (station)-AY (yard office).

Name: Platted 1886 by Dr. Levi Ballard and named for Lt. William Slaughter, killed in the Indian War of 1855-6. The town petitioned State Legislature to change name in 1893 to Auburn, after I. B. Knickerbocker's home town of Auburn, New York, also a prominent hop farming center, itself named for 1805 Oliver Goldsmith poem.

            Rails reached Auburn from Tacoma circa 1882-1883 under the engineering guidance of a future Stampede Pass hand – Virgil G. Bogue. Bogue was overseeing one of the Northern Pacific’s numerous "paper railroads," in this case, the Northern Pacific and Puget Sound Shore. Auburn's east-west connection came in the form of the Palmer Cut-Off, built between 1899 and 1900. Auburn was a no more than a hamlet when Northern Pacific Principal Assistant Engineer George Allen Kyle arrived – ending as little more than a passenger station and perhaps a small yard of four tracks. Once again there was a Stampede Pass connection in the work – the Northern Pacific’s principal sub-contractor on the cut-off was none other than Nelson Bennett, the man with the successful bid for Stampede Tunnel.

            Between 1910 and 1913 the Northern Pacific renovated its facilities, rebuilding Auburn to be one of its largest terminal yards on the western end of the system. Under Principal Assistant Engineer George A. Kenrick, Auburn reached its zenith as a railroad facility. Construction included a 25-stall roundhouse with the four southernmost stalls being larger for Mallet servicing, a machine shop coming directly off the Mallet House, a turntable, coal dock, power house, sand house, ice house, store room, and cinder pit. At the southernmost end of the yard was a huge transfer facility, consisting of two 40- by 800-foot-long wooden sheds.

            Across the central portion of the yards were structures that would seem anachronisms today – two large viaducts to allow farmers, who had sold the land to the Northern Pacific in the first place, the chance to move their cattle safely across the vast expanse of the yard.

            During the construction project a new station was opened at East Auburn, and the passenger station in Auburn proper was moved from the south (or Tacoma) leg of the wye to the north (or Seattle) leg of the wye – a sign of Seattle's influence over Tacoma (which the Northern Pacific had chosen as its western terminus in 1873). For many years Auburn, East Auburn, and Kanaskat had long umbrella sheds for passengers. Kanaskat's was gradually cut back, East Auburn's survived to serve Amtrak passengers in the 1970s, but Auburn's blew down in a 1912 wind storm. (Auburn Depot was razed in 1978.)

            In early April, 1913, General Yardmaster Iver P. Iverson arrived from Pasco with about a dozen other yard workers to open the facilities on April 10, but it was not until 2 P.M. the next day that the first train arrived. The facilities were opening six months after the Northern Pacific’s hoped for start up date of November 1, 1912.

            On April 21 the Superintendent of the Puget Sound Division (a terminal division generally containing the facilities between Seattle and Tacoma) John J. McCullough held a presentation on the new Auburn Yard for the Auburn Merchants Protective Association. In his presentation he boasted the yard would have a monthly payroll of $75,000, be capable of handling 44 trains a day, or 2,150 cars a day, being able to weigh 600 cars a day on two 150-ton scales. It would employ a General Yardmasters, Night Yardmaster, four Assistant Yardmasters, a General Foreman, four Roundhouse Foremen, two Chief Clerks, 20 yard clerks, Special Agents (four or more), ten boilermakers, 25 machinists and helpers, six hostlers, 15 other laborers, as well as pipefitters, blacksmiths, tinsmiths, boilerwashers, carpenters, electricians, firebuilders, enginewipers, four RIP track foremen, six RIP track hostlers, eight inspectors, four oilers, four more blacksmiths, four air brake men, ten more carpenters, 60 carmen, as well as truckers, stevedores, a transfer agent, a passenger agent, telegraphers, a storekeeper, checkers, assistants, callers, timekeepers, laborers and clerks for all departments, a dozen regular and a dozen extra switchmen, a section gang with a foreman, 40 laborers and a foreman to run the coal dock, sand house and cinder pit, 35 freight conductors, 105 brakemen and 120 firemen and engineers.

            To give an impression of the impact the construction of the shop and yards had on Auburn are some statistics from the Auburn Globe of that era. Auburn's population in 1910 was 957, Black Diamond (a then-remote coal mining burg) the same year was home to 2,051. In 1913, after the opening of the yard, Auburn's population had nearly doubled, to 1,928. The Northern Pacific employed 567 people in town, a figure nearly equal to Auburn's entire population before the construction of the shop and yard, and to be sure a number larger than all the working Auburn residents in 1910.

            One of the most noticeable changes to the yard in later years came in 1944, when the Northern Pacific moved to dieselize Stampede Pass. Auburn was the first place on the system to receive a purpose-built diesel enginehouse, which it proved too short to accommodate the semi-permanently coupled A-B-B-A sets of FT diesels it had been built to service. It was demolished in 1987.


102.3--A Street Bridge, 66 feet long, 15 feet high, built 1922.

102.2--C Street Bridge, 55 feet long, 27 feet high, built 1932.

102.1--D Street Bridge, 31 feet long, 15 feet high, built 1900.

102.0--F Street Bridge, 120 feet long, 15 feet high, built 1900.



138.7 miles from Yakima.

102.1 miles from Ellensburg.

000.9 miles from Auburn.

Elevation in feet: 110.

Interchange(s): None.

Sidings in feet: 4,021 (1930); 9,193 (1969 [in 3]); 4,322 (1996).

Telegraph call: GR.

Name: Auburn derivative.

            Rails reached here between 1899 and 1900 under the Palmer Cut-Off project. East Auburn had a siding, passing track, small train order station, umbrella shed, and a spur to the Auburn gravel pit. When the Northern Pacific’s premier North Coast Limited began leaving from Seattle instead of the road’s original western terminus of Tacoma, the railway offered a shuttle service for passengers from Tacoma and points south. Tacoma passengers could hop on a small train at Tacoma Union Station and ride up to East Auburn, then get off and transfer to the North Coast Limited. In later years this was replaced with bus service from Northern Pacific Transport.


101--Green River Bridge (Overflow), 150 feet long, 23 feet high, built 1900.

100.1--Highway Channel, 61 feet long, 13 feet high, built 1912.

100--Green River Bridge (Eleventh Crossing), 282 feet long, 31 feet high, built 1900.



134.2 miles from Yakima.

097.6 miles from Ellensburg.

005.4 miles from Auburn.

Elevation in feet: 230.

Interchange(s): None.

Sidings in feet: 4,002 (1930); 0 (1969); 0 (1996).

Telegraph call: None.

Name: Paul Wynaco, local native American chief.

            Wynaco was built as a connection to a small lumber mill east of Auburn, sometime after the initial cut-off construction. The mill didn't last long, burning down before World War One.


095.1--Jenkins Creek Bridge, 61 feet long, 20 feet high, built 1912.

095--Highway Overhead Crossing, 106 feet long, 23.5 feet high, built 1931.

095.A--Jenkins Creek Bridge (Siding), 68 feet long, 8 feet high, built 1944.

095--Jenkins Creek Bridge (Main Line), 60 feet long, 9 feet high, built 1900.



131.2 miles from Yakima.

094.6 miles from Ellensburg.

008.4 miles from Auburn.

Elevation in feet: 368.

Interchange(s): None.

Sidings in feet: 8,026 (1930 [in 2]); 6,700 (1969); 6,232 (1996).

Telegraph call: CO.

            In 1900, during the building of the Palmer Cut-Off, the Northern Pacific installed at 2,850-foot passing track, a 700-foot loading track, a second class section house (which broke down to $1,000 for construction, $100 for an outhouse, and $50 for furnishings), a 24-man bunkhouse, a box tank and standpipe for water. By 1908 the tiny village was home to the Covington Lumber Company, which had set up a mill capable of cutting 85,000 board feet of timber a day.

            No photograph is known to exist of the station at this site, apparently built after the cut-off construction. It operated on and off until the Great Depression and was removed in 1941.

            The Covington Section House still stands, a beautiful example of an ornate, gothic style the Northern Pacific used on some minor structures at the turn-of-the-century.

            By 1950 the Northern Pacific had installed aids to its dispatchers in Tacoma, which gained the somewhat unique name of "Hooters." These were microphones installed trackside at Covington, Eagle Gorge, Bristol and Wymer in the Yakima Canyon south of Ellensburg. When a train passed, a loudspeaker at the dispatcher's desk would blare, giving the trick man an audio OS. Other roads used similar devices and came up with equally unique names for them – "Snappers" on the Milwaukee Road, "Jitterbugs" on the Monon, "Whangdoodles" on the Burlington Northern at Alliance, "Annunciators" on the Great Northern, and even "Remote Operators" or "Dummies" on the Northern Pacific’s Yellowstone Division). The state-of-the-art technology was not without its faults however.

            While the Burlington Northern’s Whangdoodles were prone to broadcasting lowing cattle, the Northern Pacific’s Hooters were an easy target for pranksters. One evening two enterprising off-duty employees gathered around the Covington Hooter and put on a radio play worthy of Orson Welles famed "War of the Worlds" broadcast. Starting with the sounds of a scuffle, someone yelled "Don't shoot! Don't shoot! I give up!" The desperate exclamation was followed by two shots, then the sounds of a person scurrying away. The hoodwinked trick dispatcher was forced to call out the authorities to search for a body they would never be able to find.


089--Pacific Coast Overhead Crossing, 93 feet long, 19.5 feet high, built 1900.

089--State Highway Overhead Crossing, 153 feet long, 23.3 feet high, built 1938.

089--Beaver Creek Bridge (Siding), 30 feet long, 12 feet high, built 1919.



126.2 miles from Yakima.

089.6 miles from Ellensburg.

013.4 miles from Auburn.

Elevation in feet: 580.

Interchange(s): Pacific Coast.

Sidings in feet: 5,154 (1954 [including connection]).

Telegraph call: None.

Name: Unknown.

            This is the site of an overhead crossing and connection with the Columbia and Puget Sound Railroad (later the Pacific Coast). The Northern Pacific used the Columbia and Puget Sound to bring in carloads of material for the construction of the Palmer Cut-Off between 1899 and 1900. Rumor states that in later years, (the 1920s) a house of ill repute was located in this vicinity, also that someone murdered a local resident by dumping him down the bawdy house well.



124.4 miles from Yakima.

087.8 miles from Ellensburg.

015.2 miles from Auburn.

Elevation in feet: 632.

Interchange(s): Seattle and San Francisco Railway and Navigation Co. (mine road).

Sidings in feet 12,447 (1930); 7,764 (1969 [in 2]); 6,281 (1996).

Telegraph call: AR.

Name: Originally named Leary for the local Leary Coal Company; the latter name is said to be a combination of Dale Coal Company and ravens flocking to eat grain spilled from Northern Pacific cars.

            In 1900 the Northern Pacific built another 2,850-foot passing track at this site, along with a 1,000-foot-long loading spur, no doubt indicating their interest in the coal company, a Class C two-story station, similar to what was built at Lester nearly a decade earlier, a smaller 12-man bunkhouse, a double tool house, but left out any water facilities at the time of construction. The Northern Pacific’s own paperwork leaves out the fact that they built another second class section house, an exact copy of what can be found at Covington, at this time. The Ravensdale Section House is no longer standing.

            Up until 1915 various mines in the area shipped nearly a train a day worth of coal from this site. Then on in November of that year a mine explosion killed 34 members of a 300-man crew. It ended most of the mining in Ravensdale proper, as well as the small boomtown that Ravensdale was, for a good many years. Mines in the area however, including those of the Pacific Coast Coal Company, are still active and shipping.



123.3 miles from Yakima.

086.7 miles from Ellensburg.

016.3 miles from Auburn.

Elevation in feet: 741.

Interchange(s): None.

Sidings in feet 4,036 (1930); 0 (1969); 0 (1996).

Telegraph call: None.

Name: Unknown.

            Byrd was a small passing siding installed around 1907 and was removed shortly after World War Two.


082--Highway Overhead Crossing, 94 feet long, built 1948.



119.0 miles from Yakima.

082.4 miles from Ellensburg.

020.6 miles from Auburn.

Elevation in feet: 864.

Interchange(s): Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railway.

Sidings in feet: 7,692 (1930 [in 2]); 6,681 (1969); 9,000 (1996).

Telegraph call: GV.

Name: Yakima Indian Tribe sub-chief killed in the War of 1855-1856 by U.S. Army troops.

            In 1900 the NP built another 2,850-foot passing track, a 1,200-foot house track, a wye connection with the Green River Branch to Kangley, Selleck, Barneston and Kerriston, a fourth class combination station, a second class section house, a 24-man bunkhouse, a double tool house, and a box water tank and standpipe.

            The ornate Northern Pacific station at this site was burned to the ground in 1944 when a wood stove pipe through the roof overheated and caught fire. It was replaced by a innovative temporary station – a Northern Pacific round-roof box car. After World War Two the Northern Pacific replaced the box car with solid brick station. This lasted until 1959, when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers were forced to build the Northern Pacific yet another station directly northwest of its postwar structure (due to the line change caused by the Corps of Engineer's Howard A. Hanson Dam at Eagle Gorge). Thus, Kanaskat had the dubious honor of being home to four stations in 90 years. Burlington Northern and Santa Fe demolished the fourth station after years of neglect and vandalism in the winter of 1996. Today only the third station survives. Both the section bunkhouse and section house are still standing at Kanaskat. The box tank was replaced with a large steel tank around 1910. It is also still standing and used by the local fire department.


081--Milwaukee Road Overhead Crossing, 30 feet long, 21.6 feet high, built 1922.

081--Green River Bridge (Tenth Crossing), 252 feet long, 53 feet high, built 1900.



117.8 miles from Yakima.

081.2 miles from Ellensburg.

021.8 miles from Auburn.

Elevation in feet: 871 feet.

Interchange(s): None.

Sidings in feet: 4,002 (1930); 0 (1969); 0 (1996).

Telegraph call: JC.

Name: Derivative of Palmer, located nearby on the Northern Pacific’s Buckley Line. Palmer itself started out in 1885 as Green River. In 1888, the Northern Pacific changed the station for George L. Palmer, a timber cruiser for Northern Pacific Land Company, and later superintendent of a coal mine at nearby Durham.


079.1--Flume, 15 feet long, 4 feet high, built 1939.



115.8 miles from Yakima.

079.2 miles from Ellensburg.

023.8 miles from Auburn.

Elevation in feet: 1,020.

Interchange(s): None.

Sidings in feet: Not available.

Telegraph call: None.

Name: Dam and intake for Tacoma Public Utilities.

            Headworks never grew beyond a short spur to the local utility's facilities, and a small enclosed shelter shed put in by the Northern Pacific.


079--Green River Bridge (Ninth Crossing), 246 feet long, 43 feet high, built 1902.

078.1--Green River Bridge (Eighth Crossing), 272 feet long, 38 feet high, built 1897.

078--Tunnel No. 8, 315 feet long, concrete lined.

078--Green River Bridge (Seventh Crossing), 246 feet long, 35 feet high, built 1897.



113.1 miles from Yakima.

076.5 miles from Ellensburg.

026.5 miles from Auburn.

Elevation in feet: 1,039.

Interchange(s): None.

Sidings in feet: 4,030 (1930); 1,505 (1969); 0 (1996).

Telegraph call: Not available.

Name: Chinook jargon for wild or untamed.

            Northern Pacific files at the Oregon Historical Society show a small siding was built here in 1914. Over the years, various logging outfits would also use it as a reload site.


075--Green River Bridge (Sixth Crossing), 241 feet long, 40 feet high, built 1897.

075--Tunnel No. 7, 400 feet long.

074--Green River Bridge (Fifth Crossing), 153 feet long, 30 feet high, built 1902.



111.0 miles from Yakima.

074.4 miles from Ellensburg.

036.6 miles from Auburn.

Elevation in feet: 1,115.

Interchange(s): None.

Sidings in feet: 8,101 (1930 [in 2]); 7,967 (1969 [in 2]); 0 (1996).

Telegraph call: EG.

Name: In 1886 it was named by Northern Pacific officials, adopting a local name. A pair of eagles had nested in the same tree there for over 15 years.

            Eagle Gorge, later known as the largest logging railroad hub in the upper valley began life far before in the early 1880s as a construction camp on the Northern Pacific. It was headquarters for not only contractor's crews working to grub, grade and lay high iron, but also for the Northern Pacific’s engineering staff.

            Between 1907-08 Eagle Gorge was home to 150 people in and two lumber mills. H. B. Young, a Northern Pacific telegraph operator, was earning some extra income as Postmaster. By 1913-14 Eagle Gorge hosted three mills, but the town's population had declined to down to 100 and the Post Office had been closed. Things were looking up around 1917. The population had blossomed to 400, three mills were still active in town, and the Post Office had been reopened, though Mrs. H. E. McDaniels had replaced operator Young as Postmaster. The year of 1921 saw yet another telegraph operator, 47-year-old ex-New Yorker George A. Fenner, working as Postmaster, but the population was back down to 250 and only one mill remained in business.



109.9 miles from Yakima.

073.3 miles from Ellensburg.

029.7 miles from Auburn.

Elevation in feet: 1,248.

Interchange(s): None.

Telegraph call: Not available.

Name: Italian patriot, otherwise unknown.

            Initially established as a logging camp or mill (complete with Post Office) prior to 1907, Garibaldi gained a new lease on life in the years before World War One as a logging camp for the Green River Lumber Company. For many years after, "Baldi" as the place came to be known, was a spur for logging activities


072--Dean Creek Bridge, 52 feet long, 14 feet high, built 1929.



107.4 miles from Yakima.

070.8 miles from Ellensburg.

032.2 miles from Auburn.

Elevation in feet: 1,222.

Interchange(s): None.

Sidings in feet: 8,608 (1930 [in 2]); 7,490 (1969 [in 2]); 0 (1996).

Telegraph call: CU.

Name: Humphrey was initially named Canton in 1891 by the Northern Pacific for hundreds of Cantonese laborers who were employed to build the Stampede Pass line. In July, 1908, the railway changed it to its present form for William E. Humphrey of Seattle, a U.S. Congressman.

            Both Humphrey and the next town down the line, Maywood, served as logging camps and sidings during most of their lives.


067--Washout, 15 feet long, 9 feet high, built 1934.



103.5 miles from Yakima.

066.8 miles from Ellensburg.

036.2 miles from Auburn.

Elevation in feet: 1,349.

Interchange(s): None.

Sidings in feet: 8,262 (1930 [in 2]); 10,716 (1969 [in 2]); 0 (1996).

Telegraph call: MY.

Name: In 1886 this name was given by Northern Pacific officials because it was euphonious.

            In the late 1940s Maywood gained a new lease on life as a logging camp for the Soundview Pulp Company (later acquired by Scott Paper Company). Soundview eventually moved east to Lester, setting up the last major logging camp in the upper valley in 1948.


065--Smay Creek Bridge, 53 feet long, 21 feet high, built 1908.



101.8 miles from Yakima.

065.2 miles from Ellensburg.

037.8 miles from Auburn.

Elevation in feet: 1,420.

Interchange(s): None.

Sidings in feet: Not available.

Telegraph call: Not available.

Name: The name was devised by the division superintendent of the Northern Pacific, and is Morgan spelled in reverse.

            The town was named for Elmer G. Morgan of the Morgan Lumber Company, which had logged Weston, Lester, Hot Springs, and Maywood before building its final mill at Nagrom in 1911. The mill operated until the 1920s, along with a logging railroad. It was operated after about 1926 as the Howe-McGibbon Timber Company. The town's population reached 400 when the mill was in full swing, surpassing the population of the helper station of Lester for a number of years.

            When Morgan was wrangling for the spur with Seattle Division Superintendent F. E. Weymouth in 1910 (the Northern Pacific had wanted to simply extend the Maywood spur east to the new mill site) he expected to ship 25 cars of finished lumber to Billings, Montana and an additional 25 cars of lumber to St. Paul, Minnesota – originating roughly two trains a month. Morgan had nearly 100 million board feet of Weyerhaeuser timber to cut in 1911, and was trying to secure an additional 100 million from the U.S. Forest Service.


064--Green River Bridge (Fourth Crossing), 134 feet long, 27 feet high, built 1899.

062--Champion Creek Bridge, 46 feet long, 14 feet high, built 1934.



098.3 miles from Yakima.

061.7 miles from Ellensburg.

041.3 miles from Auburn.

Elevation in feet: 1,548.

Interchange(s): None.

Sidings in feet: 4,022 (1930); 0 (1969); 0 (1996).

Telegraph call: HS.

Name: Located at the confluence of the Green River and Champion Creek, in 1886 the station was named Kendon by Northern Pacific officials. In 1888, a bathhouse and hotel were built to make the springs available to the public.

            L. L. Perrin, venerable Advertising Manger for the Northern Pacific, wrote the following of Hot Springs: The population had been 100 in 1898, in 1892 land was sold to the Washington Hot Springs Company, which constructed a hotel shortly after. It was a sanatorium by 1904. The Northern Pacific station on the site burned down on November 26, 1923 (the hotel had burned circa 1911).

            In the Northern Pacific publication Pacific Coast Resorts the hotel was described as: “Relieves rheumatism, gout, neuralgia, sciatica, heart disorders, kidney, digestive and nervous system disorders. Temperature of the springs was 132 degrees Fahrenheit, from 27 white sulfur (and highly alkali) springs. The hotel is steam heated, electric-lit, open year round. [One hundred] guest rooms, baths, hot rooms, steam rooms, vapor and rubbing rooms with attendants. Sanatorium has hot air heaters, massage, Swedish movement, Russian, Turkish and medicated vapor baths. Also: bowling alleys, billiards tables, tennis court, fishing, shooting and hiking.”


61.1--Rocky Creek Bridge, 53 feet long, 12 feet high, built 1915.

61--Creek Bed, 48 feet long, 11 feet high, built 1918.

60--Green River Bridge (Third Crossing), 124 feet long, 23 feet high, built 1925.



096.3 miles from Yakima.

059.7 miles from Ellensburg.

043.3 miles from Auburn.

Elevation in feet: 1,639.

Interchange(s): None.

Sidings in feet: Double track (1930); Double track plus 4,087 (1969); 7,000 (1996).

Telegraph call: DM.

Name: Established 1880s as Deans, renamed circa 1891 for operator Lester Hansacker.

            The Northern Pacific Railroad's Annual Report for 1891 states that the Construction Department was undertaking a project to move "Weston yard to a point four miles down the mountain at the foot of the maximum grade before the fall grain movement." The next year this glimpse into the rise of Lester and the decline of Weston was finally brought to light. "A new yard has been constructed at Lester, on the Cascade Division, at the foot of the maximum grade, with brick roundhouse, turntable, suitable coal chute, and combination station." More likely than not this brick roundhouse was replaced and expanded with a wood version during the double tracking project from Lester to Easton.

            The Northern Pacific Hotel at Lester, which began life as a section house, had a lobby, two parlors, a billiards room, living room kitchen, bath and two bedrooms of the first floor, and 16 bedrooms on the second floor (fire escapes from second floor rooms were rope ladders to be thrown out the windows and clambered down in case of fire).

            The town had grown to a population of 250 around 1908. Mrs. J. A. Smith kept a hotel, Anderson and Nelson a dairy business, and Elmer G. Morgan ran the Morgan Lumber Company, a general store, and served as Postmaster.

            Around 1910 the original "barn-on-stilts" coal dock (featured in Charles Woods’ Northern Pacific) was replaced with an improved version. The first design had required all the coal to be transferred from hopper cars to bin by hand. Also, rather than using a hoist system to move cars up the ramp and above the bin, cars were pushed up with locomotives. Lester had handled 36,294 tons of coal in 1909, at .14 cents a ton.

            Lester began to decline in importance as a helper station between 1944-45 as dieselization got underway on the Northern Pacific. Electrification of Stampede was deemed too costly, and running new power like Z-6 Challengers was too dangerous (cab temperatures in tests soared well above 120 degrees, and the bulk of big locomotives in the tight confines of the tunnel left engine crews little room to escape). While Southern Pacific-like cab forwards were in the design stage, the arrival of the Northern Pacific’s first FTs from the Rocky Mountain Division (where it is rumored the Northern Pacific had set them up to avoid paying as Washington State sales tax) gave the railway the long sought answer to the clearance and ventilation problems of Stampede Tunnel. By the latter half of the 1950s power would be running past the boarded-up Lester roundhouse.

            The run-through of helper power meant that many Lester's residents would be moving down below, to the end of the line in Auburn. Dieselization marked Lester's decline, and a change in the population base from professional railroaders to transitory loggers. With the establishment of the Soundview Pulp logging camp in 1948, Lester would also follow the boom and bust pattern of its lumber town sisters on the line.

            For a moment however, its residents put an unfortunate faith in the future. In the 1950s, even as railroad dollars began to dry up in town, residents spent more than $100,000 of their own money to build a modern school. Built to educate classes of 75 or more, the school would see classes of a single child in little more than a generation. Part of the problem, of course, was access. As dieselization occurred on the Northern Pacific, road building began to spread across the watershed. A new road was eventually completed, and a road through the City of Tacoma's portion of the watershed began to get more use. This western road, giving Lester residents easy access to the conveniences and entertainment of Seattle and Tacoma, quickly became a point of contention between the City of Tacoma and the town of Lester. The installation of a gate across the road near the city's headworks touched off what quickly became known to local papers as the "Lester Gate War."

            When Lester residents found that dynamiting the gate did not deter the Tacoma forces, King County was nudged into the fray. The County Engineer's solution was to tie a chain between the gate and the back of a truck. As government agencies had become involved, the issue naturally headed for court. The local court's determination was that Tacoma should move to secure its water source by purchasing lands immediately along the Green River (something it had already done in the Eagle Gorge area when the Corps of Engineers had built Howard Hanson Dam).

            Slowly but surely, Tacoma purchased a narrow strip which surrounded the river and crept ever eastward. In 1967, Tacoma purchased the Lester town site from the Northern Pacific for a little less than $40,000 (strangely, the NP had never sold land in Lester, preferring to lease it out to residents instead). The residents had their leases conveyed to Tacoma, which offered them the possibility of a lease for the rest of their lives. The leases came with a dark twist--they could not be transferred to anyone. Thus, as the residents of Lester died or moved off, their homes were demolished by public utility crews.

            Still, Lester held out. The Northern Pacific’s contribution to the town dwindled to just operators, signal maintainers and section crews by the latter 1960s, in the latter 1970s the lumber camp finally closed, and in 1983 Burlington Northern mothballed most of the line. Still, residents had come up with a way to keep the town going – the Lester School. The school became the town's main "industry" after everything else had closed; backed by almost unlimited funds from school lands covered with timber and coupled a tiny population, the Lester School showed every sign of going on forever. It certainly did not hurt that the school board tended to hire educators with large, young families. Thus, Art Wang, a legislator (unsurprisingly) from Tacoma, sponsored legislation that would shut down small schools in Washington and force their merger into larger districts. The Lester School District was one of only two districts effected.

            In the spring of 1985 current and past residents gathered around a mock tombstone bearing the epitaph "Here lies to town of Lester . . . Killed May 22, 1985, by the pen of Gov. Booth Gardner – hired gun of the City of Tacoma." The Lester School District would supply hundreds of thousands of dollars in funds and a Snow Cat marked "Lester School Bus" to the district it was merged into. There are no longer any year-round residents.

            Today Burlington Northern and Santa Fe maintains a small presence in the town. Power is turned using a newly built wye. The Northern Pacific had installed a 2,163-foot-long long balloon track immediately west of the Lester depot to turn power. Ironically, both the balloon track and the Northern Pacific’s wye at Easton, built to handle some the railway's largest steam power, were dismantled just years before Burlington Northern, then Burlington Northern and Santa Fe, began rebuilding the line.


059--Creek Bed, 30 feet long, 7 feet high, built 1948.

058.1--Green River Bridge (Second Crossing), 134 feet long, 27 feet high, built 1914.

058--Jim Creek Bridge, 53 feet long, 24 feet high, built 1914.

056--Green River Bridge (First Crossing), 1,119 feet long, 163 feet high, built 1914.



091.4 miles from Yakima.

054.8 miles from Ellensburg.

048.2 miles from Auburn.

Elevation in feet: 2,106.

Interchange(s): None.

Sidings in feet: Double track plus 3,664 (1930); Double track (1969) 0 (1996).

Telegraph call: KY.

Name: William H. Kennedy, who helped locate the Northern Pacific line across Stampede Pass.

            Kennedy was home to a small station, water facilities and section house. The station was eliminated with the Lester-Easton double tracking project of 1912 to 1914, but the section house was there for many years after. Kennedy was home to an interesting concrete box tank that was partially recessed into the hillside above the station and supplied a ten-inch standpipe trackside.

            The most notable incident at the point was the boiler explosion on Northern Pacific 3015, a Z Class 2-6-6-2 Mallet. The explosion killed engineer Frank Thompson outright and severely scalded fireman William Mitchell. Austin Webster Ackley, future Chief Dispatcher on the Tacoma Division, was working at Martin at the time. "Ack" as he was known, had ordered two quarts of milk from Lester and they were placed on the tender of the 3015. According to legend, when the wreckage of the engine was examined Ack's two quarts of milk were discovered, unbroken and the cream hardly stirred up. The 3015 was removed, repaired and eventually returned to service, though employees chalked a skull and crossbones on the hoodooed engine's pilot. She eventually jumped the track on the Coeur d'Alene (Wallace) Branch in Idaho in 1933 and was scrapped shortly thereafter.



088.6 miles from Yakima.

052.0 miles from Ellensburg.

051.0 miles from Auburn.

Elevation in feet: 2,394.

Interchange(s): None.

Sidings in feet: Double track plus 3,585 (1930)  Double track (1969)  0 (1996).

Telegraph call: BO.

Name: Probably for Theodore Borup of Borup and Champlin, a St. Paul wholesale grocery, commissary and forwarding company. Albro Martin notes in James J. Hill and the Opening of the Northwest that Hill served as a clerk with the firm from 1860-64. He also recalls an incident where both Hill and Borup jumped into the Mississippi River to save a drowning boy.

            Another train order station similar to Kennedy. Traveling east from the station, the Northern Pacific entered the Borup Loop – a giant double horseshoe which helped the Northern Pacific maintain the 2.2 percent maximum grade mandated in its charter. Almost directly above the first curve of the Borup Loop on the mountain side is the east portal of Tunnel Four and Old Stampede.


051--Highway Overhead Crossing, 24 feet high, built 1934.

050--Tunnel No. 6 (Westbound Main Line), 309 feet long (now an open cut eastbound main line).



086.3 miles from Yakima.

049.7 miles from Ellensburg.

051.3 miles from Auburn.

Elevation in feet: 2,669.

Interchange(s): None.

Sidings in feet: Double track plus 7,700 (1930 [in 2]); Double track plus 3,812 (1969); 0 (1996).

Telegraph call: SI.

Name: Variation of Stampede.

            New Stampede was a creation of the Lester-Easton double tracking project. It sits at the west portal of Tunnel 4, the beginning of roughly three miles of single track main line through both Tunnel 4 and its eastern counterpart, Tunnel 3 (Stampede Tunnel). The original station facilities for this area were at the eastern portal of Tunnel 4, but they were moved west when the double track project came through.

            The station served as the western gatekeeper for the single track stretching from the west portal of Tunnel 4 to the eastern portal of Tunnel 4 (Martin). The Northern Pacific installed a staff machine in each station, stating "No train will run in either direction until engineer receives from operator a staff, which must be retained until delivered to the operation at the opposite end of the block." Having the staff made a train superior to all others between the two tunnel stations and ensured no more than one train at a time would run over the single track section. The staff was hooped up by operators at one end and tossed off at the other (with crews usually aiming to get the large wire ring the staff was attached to around the double track switch stand). As a testament to the tunnel, operators also hooped up rudimentary wet-sponge gas masks.


049--Tunnel No. 4, 649 feet long, 1,188 feet long with snowsheds.



085.1 miles from Yakima.

048.5 miles from Ellensburg.

054.5 miles from Auburn.

Elevation in feet: 2,724.

Interchange(s): None.

Sidings in feet: 3,104 (1930); 2,644 (1969); 1,285 (1996).

Telegraph call: SI (prior to 1914).

Name: Stampede Pass was discovered by Northern Pacific Principal Assistant Engineer Virgil Gay Bogue in 1881, who promptly named it Garfield Pass. This lasted until a trail crew later "stampeded" from a work camp after the assignment of a new foreman.

            Old Stampede has one of the most interesting histories of any point on the line. The original depot for the area was a cliff-hanger located immediately east of the east portal of Tunnel 4. The flats almost dead-set between the two tunnels hosted a number of facilities over the years. First to go in was a tunnel spur, which came to be known over the years as "Sam's Spur," for veteran section foreman Sam Campanelli. At other times there was a tiny yard, a 56-foot turntable (the Northern Pacific’s Engineering Department, searching for ways to enlarge the turntable towards 80 or 90 feet, dreamt of trestling off the cliff side to support it), section houses, a one-room school (for the vent plant and section families children), and a wood water tank. The tank became one of the longest-lived structures at the spot, lasting into the middle 1980s. Traveling east toward the western portal of Stampede Tunnel the line follows a northerly curve, which eventually reveals the remains of Stampede's two ventilation plants.

            Stampede's vent plants were a response to the heavy buildups of exhaust that occurred in the arched bore. A break-in-two could stall as many as three steamers in the tunnel at one time. After numerous close calls, the tunnel finally claimed the life of a trainman around 1912-13. The first plant was built in 1914 and was powered by five hand-fired boilers. This imposing facility rose on all sides of the small valley at the head of Sunday Creek. A snowshed over the main line shot out from underneath the center of the structure, with the power house rising on the north, and a coal dock and bunker on the south. Numerous concrete risers which once supported the coal dock spur can still be seen girding the creek. The squirrel cages for the fans themselves sat atop the portal, many feet back from the beginning of the snowshed.

            Charles S. Churchill, Chief Engineer of the Norfolk and Western, was paid a royalty for helping design the nozzles just inside the portal. Two Sturtevant fans running at 220 revolutions per minute were capable of expelling soot and smoke at a furious clip--540,000 cubic feet of air per minute. Finally in 1927 a substation was installed on the site of the old powerhouse and the fans were converted to electric power.

            After 1957, when the Northern Pacific installed a rudimentary centralized traffic control system between New Stampede and Martin, the Northern Pacific mounted an alternating flashing lunar white signal 200 feet west of the west portal of Stampede Tunnel. It was approach lit by eastward trains and served as an indicator for the vent plant. Unless it was flashing, eastward trains were not allowed to enter the tunnel. A dark signal indicated the fans were running and the train must stop until the tunnel was cleared. The system was operated by remote control by the operator at Easton.

            In another touch of irony, Burlington Northern sent machinists from Auburn to refurbish the fans circa 1978, shortly before shutting the line down. Until August of 1997 much of the small substation remained. Today only its base can be seen, immediately northwest of Burlington Northern and Santa Fe’s new concrete snowshed.


048--Sunday Creek Bridge, 19 feet long, built 1919.

046--Stampede Tunnel, 9,834 feet long, 10,589 feet long with snowsheds, opened May, 1888.

046--Meany Creek Bridge, 21 feet long, 6 feet high, built 1924.



083.1 miles from Yakima.

046.5 miles from Ellensburg.

056.5 miles from Auburn.

Elevation in feet: 2,820.

Interchange(s): None.

Sidings in feet: Double track plus 8,024 (1930 [in 2]); Double track plus 2,540 (1969 [in 2]); 2,307 (1996).

Telegraph call: RT.

Name: Named by Judge Conklin for the abundant pine martens which he had hunted there.

            While the vent plant might have been the greatest benefit to Stampede Tunnel, when the fans were running it was all to the detriment of Martin. At the east portal great billows of smoke would pour forth when they were on, clearing the tunnel but forcing the Martin operators to keep their lights burning throughout the day.


044--Tunnel No. 2 (Westbound Main Line), 557 feet long, (open cut eastbound main line).



078.7 miles from Yakima.

042.1 miles from Ellensburg.

060.9 miles from Auburn.

Elevation in feet: 2,383.

Interchange(s): None.

Sidings in feet: Double track plus 3,618 (1930); Double track (1969); 0 (1996).

Telegraph call: Up.

Name: Named for an old settler who used to fish in the area. There was also an H. P. Upham, President of the First National Bank of St. Paul.

            Northern Pacific materials at the Oregon Historical Society state Upham was built in 1901. Just up the hillside from the station was a 20,000 gallon water tank supplying a ten-inch standpipe.



077.6 miles from Yakima.

041.0 miles from Ellensburg.

062.0 miles from Auburn.

Elevation in feet: 2,194.

Interchange(s): None.

Sidings in feet: Double track (1930); Double track (1969); 0 (1996).

Telegraph Call: Not available.

Name: A misspelling by the Northern Pacific of the Cascade Lumber Company’s A. H. Huebner.


040--Cabin Creek Bridge, 52 feet long, 27 feet high, built 1903.

039--Milwaukee Road Overhead Crossing, 22.7 feet high, built 1908.

038.A--Wye Over Highway, 79 feet long, 25 feet high, built 1938.



074.7 miles from Yakima.

038.1 miles from Ellensburg.

064.9 miles from Auburn.

Elevation in feet: 2,180.

Interchange(s): Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railway.

Sidings in feet: Double track (1930); Double track plus 11,715 (1969 [in 2]); 21,906 (1996).

Telegraph call: EA (ES until circa World War Two).

Name: Opposite of Weston, east end of Stampede Pass approach.

            Easton was the eastern counterpart of first Weston, then Lester. In the steam days, Class Z-3 2-8-8-2 Mallets would be assigned to a westbound train and shoved, one on the point, one ahead of the caboose, and one behind, the ten miles from Easton to Martin. Easton had a small station, a counterpart Northern Pacific hotel to the one located at Lester, water facilities, a three-stall roundhouse and later an enginehouse for the large Challengers that came on line in the late 1930s (they proved to large for not only Easton's existing roundhouse but also for Stampede Tunnel). There was a wye purpose-built to turn the Challengers on, a coal dock, and a unique covered turntable, a symbol of the heavy snowfall the town endured.

            With the advent of the power provided by the Challengers, the Northern Pacific, for a short time, used Easton as a locomotive change-out point. Challengers would haul trains in from Yakima, be turned on the wye, and head back east, while the older Z-3s would pick up the train and slog it out over Stampede Pass.

            After Stampede Pass was mothballed, there was a movement to preserve Easton's station. This disappeared when early one morning Burlington Northern bulldozers arrived to flatten the structure. Its remains were carted up to Old Stampede and unceremoniously dumped off the edge of the right of way.


036--Cattle Underpass, 15 feet long, 11 feet high, built 1902.



071.0 miles from Yakima.

034.4 miles from Ellensburg.

068.6 miles from Auburn.

Elevation in feet: 2,113.

Interchange(s): None.

Sidings in feet: 4005 (1930)  0 (1969)  0 (1996).

Telegraph call: Not available.

Name: Senator Nathaniel Talmage of New York was associated with Edwin F. Johnson, chief engineer of the Northern Pacific Railroad from 1866 to 1870. (Tacoma Public Library, Northwest Room, Washington State Place Names Database.)

            Northern Pacific materials at the Oregon Historical Society state Talmadge was built in 1906.


034.1--Creek bed, 21 feet long, 8 feet high, built 1902.

034--Big Creek Bridge, 52 feet long, 14 feet high, built 1903.

032--Boston Creek Bridge, 21 feet long, 11 feet high, built 1904.



068.0 miles from Yakima.

031.7 miles from Ellensburg.

071.9 miles from Auburn.

Elevation in feet: 2,047.

Interchange(s): None.

Sidings in feet: 5,219 (1930); 6,663 (1969); 0 (1996).

Telegraph call: Not available.

Name: By Northern Pacific officials in 1886 for landowners Peter and John Nelson, whose property the station was built. Originally named in the plural "Nelson's."


030--Yakima River Bridge (Sixth Crossing), 204 feet long, 24 feet high, built 1924.



065.6 miles from Yakima.

029.0 miles from Ellensburg.

074.0 miles from Auburn.

Elevation in feet: 1,991.

Interchange(s): None.

Sidings in feet: 4,010 (1930); 4,748 (1969 [in 2]); 0 (1996).

Telegraph call: Not available.

Name: Baker was named by the Northern Pacific for a logger, C. S. Baker, who loaded logs at the siding. Mr. Baker later moved to Ellensburg. (Meany, p. 12).

            Northern Pacific materials at the Oregon Historical Society show Baker was also built in 1906. Bullfrog was created as a state-of-the-art wood chip plant circa 1967 as a project of Northern Pacific President Louis Wilson Menk.


028--Cle Elum River Bridge, 153 feet long, 25 feet high, built 1942.

025.A--Roslyn Creek Bridge (Siding), 46 feet long, 14 feet high, built 1943.

025--Roslyn Creek Bridge (Main Line), 46 feet long, 14 feet high, built 1943.



061.4 miles from Yakima.

024.8 miles from Ellensburg.

078.2 miles from Auburn.

Elevation in feet: 1,922.

Interchange: Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railway.

Sidings in feet: 10,000 (1930); 7,883 (1969); 14,620 (1996).

Telegraph call: CL.

Name: Indian word for swift water (James W. Phillips, Washington State Place Names, p. 88). Northern Pacific officials named the station Clealum after the Indian name of Tie-El-Lum, which means swift water. Altered to present form in 1908.

            Cle Elum is the junction with the all-important Sixth Sub-Division to Roslyn, Ronald, Beekman and Lakedale. In 1886, as steel gangs worked west up the grade from Ellensburg, the discovery of coal off the line in the Roslyn area prompted the Northern Pacific to divert crews and materials to construct this branch line before the completion of the main line. Even in the 1950s Cle Elum was home to several branch line jobs that worked mine runs to Roslyn and Ronald.



057.6 miles from Yakima.

021.0 miles from Ellensburg.

082.0 miles from Auburn.

Elevation in feet: 1,854.

Interchange(s): None.

Sidings in feet: 8,458 (1930 [in 2]); 4,418 (1969); 0 (1996).

Telegraph call: Not available.

Name: This settlement was a fairly important town at the time of gold excitement in Blewett Pass to the northeast. The Indian name translates to place of fish and berries. The 1989 History of Kittitas County notes that "Originally the town was named after Indian Chief Ten-a-weisn. However, because it was difficult to find dot and dash keys to telegraph that way, a Northern Pacific operator changed the name to Te-ana-way." (Kittitas County History, 1989, p. 66.).

            Northern Pacific materials at the Oregon Historical Society show Teanaway was built in 1886.


019--Teanaway River Bridge, 103 feet long, 21 feet high, built 1902.



053.8 miles from Yakima.

017.2 miles from Ellensburg.

085.8 miles from Auburn.

Elevation in feet: 1,815.

Interchange(s): None.

Sidings in feet: 5,210 (1930); 6,702 (1969); 6,238 (1996).

Telegraph call: BR.

Name: Northern Pacific materials show this point was created under the name of Cañon in 1886, then changed to Bristol in 1894.

            Bristol was home to a large two-story station of an unusual design for a number of years, a small mining railroad connected with the Northern Pacific in the vicinity.



051.2 miles from Yakima.

014.6 miles from Ellensburg.

088.4 miles from Auburn.

Elevation in feet: 1,773.

Interchange(s): None.

Sidings in feet: 4,038 (1930); 4,038 (1969); 0 (1996).

Telegraph call: Not available.

Name: Unknown.

            Northern Pacific materials at the Oregon Historical Society show Kountze was built in 1906.


013--Swauk Creek Bridge, 68 feet long, 21 feet high, built 1902.



047.0 miles from Yakima.

010.4 miles from Ellensburg.

092.6 miles from Auburn.

Elevation in feet: 1,708.

Interchange(s): None.

Sidings in feet: 4,141 (1930); 0 (1969); 0 (1996).

Telegraph call: Not available.

Name: Northern Pacific officials named their station in 1890 for F. M. Dudley, General Land Attorney.


010--Yakima River Bridge (Fifth Crossing), 203 feet long, 23 feet high, built 1942.

007.A--Irrigation Ditch (Siding), 58 feet long, 9 feet high, built 1945.

007--Irrigation Ditch (Main Line), 58 feet long, 8 feet high, built 1945.



044.2 miles from Yakima.

007.6 miles from Ellensburg.

095.4 miles from Auburn.

Elevation in feet: 1,647.

Interchange(s): None.

Sidings in feet: 9,291 (1930 [in 2]); 9,289 (1969 [in 2]); N/A (1996).

Telegraph call: TP.

Name: Founded by F. Mortimer Thorp in 1885 and was platted as a town site July 13, 1895. The name was chosen by the Northern Pacific to honor Milford A. Thorp, a member of this pioneer family.

            Thorp was home to a large, but necessarily shallow, ice pond, until the 1920s. Its small wood station is the only one of its kind standing on the old First Subdivision between Auburn and Yakima.


006.1--Yakima River Bridge (Fourth Crossing), 316 feet long, 31 feet high, built 1942.

006--Overflow Channel, 132 feet long, 13 feet high, built 1940.

004--Milwaukee Road Overhead Crossing, 135 feet long, 22 feet high, built 1914.



040.2 miles from Yakima.

003.6 miles from Ellensburg.

099.4 miles from Auburn.

Elevation in feet: 1,586.

Interchange(s): None.

Sidings in feet: 4,025 (1930); 0 (1969); 0 (1996).

Telegraph call: Not available.

Name: Shushuskin Canyon is south of Ellensburg running parallel to the Yakima River in south central Kittitas County. The canyon carries a small, intermittent stream bearing the same name. It was named for an Indian who became a farmer was highly respected by early settlers. He fed and assisted many prospectors and travelers. In some records the name is spelled Shoskin. (Meany, p. 270).

            Northern Pacific materials at the Oregon Historical Society show Shoskin was built in 1903.


003--Irrigation Ditch, 47 feet long, 8 feet high, built 1918.

002.1--Tumchekess Creek Bridge, 32 feet long, 5 feet high, built 1929.

002--Ditch, 74 feet long, 7 feet high, built 1933.

001--Reecer Creek Bridge, 96 feet long, 7 feet high, built 1904.

000.B--Mercer Creek Bridge (South Track), 30 feet long, 5 feet high, built 1927.

000.A--Mercer Creek Bridge (Track 1), 30 feet long, 5 feet high, built 1947.

000--Mercer Creek Bridge (Main Line), 30 feet long, 5 feet high, built 1947.



036.6 miles from Yakima.

000.0 miles from Ellensburg.

102.8 miles from Auburn.

Elevation in feet: 1,521.

Interchange(s): Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railway.

Sidings in feet: 15,000 (1930); 11,165 (1969); 8,000 (1996).

Telegraph call: EB.

Name: Started as a trading post in 1867, and now is a livestock and farming center. When a post office was established in 1880 the name chosen was Ellen's Burgh, for the middle name of Mary Ellen Shoudy, wife of pioneer John Shoudy. Postal officials changed that name to its present form. A nickname, widely used in early days, was Robber's Roost – invented in jest by A. J. Splawn, an early rancher, for the actions of a trader in town.

            Ellensburg was originally headquarters for the Cascade Division after the construction, and had served as base camp for overseeing engineer (and future Tacoma mayor) Herbert S. Huson in the 1880s. Its original two story wood station was replaced with a brick structure shortly after the turn of the century. At that time, much of the Stampede Pass line was still dispatched from offices in Ellensburg.

            Just north of the present station was a coal dock, small yard, and two roundhouses--one approximately six stalls in size and a second roughly 25 stalls. Ellensburg served as the eastern division point until 1933, when lessening traffic and improving speed led the Northern Pacific to stretch the division by 36.6 miles down the Yakima River Canyon to Yakima. This ended the importance of this railroad boom town of the 1880s.

Author: John A. Phillips, III. Title: Stampede Pass, A Virtual Tour -- Auburn to Ellensburg. URL: www.employees.org/~davison/nprha/stampedemp.html.

© November 20, 2000