The Northern Pacific Railway's North Coast Limited at Seattle - Date/Photographer unknown.
23 August 1987
Train May Run to Mount Rainier
Seattle Washington USA - Plans are moving along to resume passenger-train service to Mount Rainier National Park, but it will be at least 1989 before coaches rumble again from Tacoma into the mountains.
Great Northern Pacific Ltd. of Portland plans to operate the train over an existing old line, after it replaces rails and strengthens the roadbed in several places. The last time regular passenger trains served the park was in 1926.
To be called the Mount Rainier Park Limited, the train would run over 56 miles of track between Tacoma and the little community of National, six miles from the park's Nisqually entrance. A shuttle bus would run from National to Paradise and other destinations in the park.
The rail line goes past Graham in Pierce County and follows the Orting Kepowsln Highway to Lake Kapowsin, then along the Orville Road to Eatonville. It curves around to Alder Lake and Elbe before ending at National, once a booming sawmill town.
Restoration of the line would cost at least US$500,000.
The company had hoped to start the train service next spring, but continuing negotiations to lease the tracks from the Chehalis Western Railroad, a subsidiary of the Weyerhaeuser Co., have precluded that.
Now the earliest the service could be started is 1989, even if an agreement with Weyerhaeuser came soon, say officials of Great Northern Pacific.
The train might run six times a week in the summer, on weekends at other times of the year. To make the trip more enjoyable, there could be lectures about the park as the train traveled there.
The train would travel about 25 mph, sometimes as fast as 35 mph, and the trip would take about two hours, said Alfred Runte, a Seattle historian and writer who is a consultant to the rail company.
Mount Rainier is one of few national parks still connected by rail to a metropolitan area.
The park is one of Washington's major tourist attractions. In the first seven months of this year, it drew 860,800 visitors, 330,200 in July alone, 4 percent more than in the same period last year. If only 1.5 percent of the visitors were to go by train, those behind the rail venture believe it would be a success.