Re-enactors and female vets ride the rails
8:54 am October 25th, 2013
Members of the Washington State Civil War Association, dressed in fashions of the day, joined other passengers for a ride on the Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad. (Courtesy photo)
Two recent groups of riders had Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad journeying back to the Civil War era and supporting female veterans of the military.
The Elbe-based historic train service welcomed members of the Washington State Civil War Association for a one-day event Sept. 21. The members posed as citizens and soldiers from Civil War days and rode with other passengers to Mineral.
The association hoped for an educational experience for riders who mingled with the re-enactors and watched them stage a short battle scene.
“Being on the train and being close to the re-enactors” was “a great chance to learn about an important part of American history and have fun at the same time,” said Clayton Ambrose Marbles, who had the role of a sergeant in the 2nd South Carolina Volunteer Infantry.
The non-profit Civil War association honors ancestors from both sides of the war through living-history encampments, battle re-enactments and school programs throughout Washington.
On Oct. 5, it was the turn of the Sisterhood of Veterans to climb aboard. The occasion was part of the Seattle-based organization’s social support program for women veterans and active-duty women around recreation, volunteerism in the veteran community and philanthropic activities at low or no cost for participants.
“We all have the military in common, and we all have unique experiences that we use to assist and support each other,” said Kristina Setchfield, a Marine Corps veteran who is the group’s event planner. “We use social media like Facebook to find each other and Meetup.com to plan our events.”
The group converged at about lunchtime at Scenic Railroad’s depot in Elbe for the ride through foothills near Mount Rainier. For women from all branches of the military, it was “a day of fun and camaraderie,” said Sarah Andrews, a Navy veteran and co-founder of the Sisterhood of Veterans.
The railroad enjoyed being a way “for these veterans to connect,” said spokeswoman Meilee Anderson.
Scenic Railroad, which has weekly excursions from June through October and again in December between Elbe and Mineral, is a non-profit organization and the longest continuously operating steam train railroad in the Pacific Northwest. About 30,000 passengers ride its rails annually, according to Anderson. A portion of the ticket sales supports historic-train preservation and restoration.