Mount Rainier Scenic Railroad recently announced it is entering final negotiations to begin operating steam train excursions from Chehalis this summer.
Mount Rainier Scenic Railroad
Mount Rainier Scenic Railroad has announced it will open RailCycle Mt. Rainier, a new rail bike attraction, and is entering final negotiations to begin operating steam train excursions from Chehalis this summer — a full two years sooner than predicted.
RailCycle Mt. Rainier, is a family-friendly pedal-powered rail bike excursion that offers a chance to experience the Pacific Northwest’s history of logging and railroading while enjoying views of glacially fed rivers and streams. RailCycles takes advantage of both railroad and bicycle technology to ensure that they are easy to pedal and accessible for many.
Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad is finalizing negotiations with Chehalis Centralia Railroad and Museum to lease its rail line, station and event space to operate summer and fall excursions. Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad leadership intends to bring steam engine Polson 70, along with several passenger cars, to Chehalis for the summer operation, which features family-friendly excursions, barbecue and blues trains and beer-tasting trains.
Mount Rainier Scenic Railroad began working to restore the track to service, particularly focusing on expansion to operate out of Eatonville. While this work remains ongoing and fundraising efforts are taking place, MRSR is unable to operate on its own line. CCRM has been unable to obtain liability insurance, due to two crashes involving CCRM’s trains and resulting pending lawsuit. While negotiations are being finalized, both groups remain optimistic.
“Since we announced our acquisition of the railroad, the support we have received has been overwhelming,” MRSR Executive Director Bethan Maher said in a release. “We have a talented staff and board of directors, robust community support and over 80 volunteers actively working to help revive the railroad. The outpouring of help has made summer operations an aggressive, but realistic target. We appreciate CCRM’s willingness and warm, friendly response to the proposal, and the help they’ve given us in making this idea a reality.”
The agreement for summer railroad operations is currently being finalized. Both entities report that excursions are targeted to begin in mid-June, however. MRSR launched a campaign to raise $80,000 to help bring equipment, which has not operated since 2020, back into service and compliance, as well as perform necessary bridge repairs to facilitate the move. MRSR will need to obtain a series of permissions to move equipment and finalize all pertinent inspections.
In August of 2022, nonprofit Western Forest Industries Museum acquired Mount Rainier Scenic Railroad after its previous owner, American Heritage Railways, closed the organization in 2020. WFIM intends to expand operations to the town of Eatonville, creating a significant economic demand generator for the town, while constructing a new station and museum showcase historic railroad and logging equipment, while highlighting the stories of the people that worked on and lived along the railroad.
More information on both initiatives can be found at: RailCycle.com and MtRainierRailroad.com.