MT. RAINIER SCENIC RAILROAD IN OPERATION SOONER THAN PREDICTED WITH RAIL BIKES AND STEAM TRAIN EXCURSIONS
The Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad 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, WA this summer – a full two years sooner than predicted.
RailCycle Mt. Rainier, is a family-friendly pedal-powered rail bike excursion that offers a unique way to experience the Pacific Northwest’s rich history of logging and railroading while enjoying stunning views of glacially fed rivers and streams. RailCycles take advantage of both railroad and bicycle technology to ensure that they are easy to pedal and accessible for many. These RailCycles are designed with optimal safety and performance in mind, featuring a lightweight aluminum frame construction, with heavier steel wheels, ideal for railroad applications. Seats are easy to access and provide comfortable support. Excursions will depart from Eatonville, WA.
Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad (MRSR) is finalizing negotiations with Chehalis Centralia Railroad and Museum (CCRM) to lease their rail line, station, and event space to operate summer and fall excursions. Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad intends to bring a steam engine, the Polson 70, along with several passenger cars to Chehalis for the summer operation which features family-friendly excursions, some especially geared towards children, BBQ & Blues Trains, and Beer Tasting Trains.
Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad began working to restore their 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. 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,” said Bethan Maher, WFIM/MRSR’s Executive Director.
Mary Kay Nelson, CCRM’s President, said “So far, I haven’t found anybody who doesn’t think this is a win-win situation, not only for our railroads but for the public who keeps contacting me and saying, ‘When is the train going to start running again?’ The agreement for summer railroad operations is currently being finalized; however, both entities
report that excursions are targeted to begin in mid-June. Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad launched a campaign to raise $80,000 to help bring their 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 Mt. 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.