Wellington, Washington is Off the Beaten Path Gold for Railroad Fans


While traveling through the Pacific Northwest, you will find a lot of interesting historical sites to visit. Visiting a top notch historical site is a great way to accent a vacation or just pass the time on a longer trip through the region. If you have a specific historic interest, you can easily find one that fits that niche too.

For anyone traveling through the Cascade Mountains via Stevens Pass on Highway 2, there is a fascinating historical site to visit. This becomes even more interesting if you have even the mildest interest in railroad history. Just west of the summit of Stevens Pass is a side road that leads down to the Tye Valley. Follow that road and you will find yourself visiting the site of what once was the small community of Wellington.

Wellington was a railroad town situated at the western end of the original Cascade Tunnel. It was founded way back in 1893 and was very important for nearly two decades. Today, you can take the Iron Goat Trail on a short walk east from the parking lot and actually see the entrance of the old tunnel. You can go on a longer walk to the west that will take you through what remains of an old snow shed. That trail will go further too if you want a longer hike and will come out at a couple other of places along Highway 2.

All through the area there are old foundations left from various buildings that were once in use there. There are also historical markers detailing what took place there. No matter if you are headed there for the history, the fresh air, the scenery, the ties to the railroad industry, or the hiking opportunities, you will love your time at Wellington.

The number one thing that Wellington is known for though is not hiking or as a railroad town. It is known as the site of the worst avalanche in United States history. On March 1, 1910, snow, ice, rocks, and trees came thundering down the mountainside and completely destroyed two fully loaded trains that were sitting in place on the railroad trucks below. The trains had been delayed due to snow on the tracks ahead. The avalanche saw 96 people lose their lives, including 35 passengers and 61 employees of the railroad. News of the tragic event appeared in newspapers across the country.

To avoid the negative association to its name, the town of Wellington became the town of Tye shortly after the avalanche. It was abandoned in 1929 when the new Cascade Tunnel was completed.

The Wellington town site still sits there though, mostly in ruins, and is a great historical attraction to visit when driving by, whether as a planned side trip or on an impulse.