Then and Now: The Puget Sound and Cascade Railway Trestle

1920s

1920s

It did not take much detective work to find the location of this great ‘Then’ photo, taken sometime in the 1920s.  The caption says looking east up present-day Gunderson Road.  I was already familiar with the route of this logging line and did know about the two trestle bents that still exist along Nookachamps Creek.  This is obviously a survey line that College Way, then called the Mt. Vernon-Clear Lake Road, followed.

This was a floody area then, as it is now.

The ‘Now’ view was taken right along East College Way about 2.3 miles from Riverside Drive, Mount Vernon, WA.  Most of the route that went within the current Mount Vernon city limits is the paved biking and walking Kulshan Trail.  Notice the pilings in the middle left.  This is right where the railroad crossed the main channel of Nookachamps Creek.  Do not know why only these were left, but maybe the landowner was planning a bridge in this location?  Or that they were actually in the creek bed and the rest were in a pasture?

July 2015

July 2015

This railline ran from a log dump along the Skagit River in Mount Vernon, across the Great Northern mainline near Fir St and then through Clear Lake, then along the South bank of the Skagit River as far as Finney Creek.  (Rails were pulled up in the 1940s, and a lot of the South Skagit Highway follows this rail right-of-way.) I believe that this line was only a carrier and they did no actual logging.  The remains of the log dump on the Skagit River can still be seen in the North Lions Park area, the pilings can be clearly seen, even from the South Lions Park area.  I have kayaked up close to this area and have seen a lot of old truck pieces, rails, cables and other pieces of stuff that was thrown along the bank to keep the river from washing this little trestle away.  You can walk right down to it, as it is a public park, but the sticker bushes do keep guard!

1925 Map

1925 Map

I have a scan of a nice 1925 Metsker map of this area, shown at left.  The red line is the route, with tracks still evident.  The subject photos were taken near the middle of Section 15. (Click image for a larger view.)  The Kulshan Trail follows this route from the Skagit River to College Way, via Waugh at the east end.  The plan is to complete the Trail along the right of way to Clear Lake, as shown.

A great resource of logging railroads in this area is: Logging railroads in Skagit County : the first comprehensive history of the logging railroads in Skagit County, Washington, USA / by Dennis Blake Thompson ; illustrations by E.L. Hauff ; cartography by R. Dale Jost. (1989)

Available at the Mount Vernon Public Library.
Dennis’til next time,
Dennis George
Highland Garden House B & B
501 E. Highland Ave.
Mount Vernon, WA 98273
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