Riders on the Explore the Greenway bike ride through the cool, dark Snoqualmie Tunnel just west of Snoqualmie Pass this Saturday will experience a piece of Washington’s railroad history.
And now equestrians, bicyclists, wagon riders and more can travel the John Wayne Pioneer Trail east of Snoqualmie Pass as well. Washington State Parks just reopened two tunnels near Easton and two near Thorp that had been closed to public use for several years. Fully reconnecting this corridor is a wonderful improvement to this cross-state trail.
State Parks has completed much-needed repairs of two tunnels near Lake Easton State Park. Also newly open are two tunnels near Thorp, but users are asked to sign a waiver before they travel through.
This rail-to-trail follows the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific rail line known as the Milwaukee Road, completed in 1909. The railway ran through the Cascades at Snoqualmie Pass, and was once billed as the longest electrified railroad in the country. Railroad builders had to contend with steep slopes, rock outcroppings and severe winter weather when designing the route leaving a legacy of tunnels, trestles and snow sheds. While these historic structures create a wonderfully unique trail experience, their maintenance presents a challenge.
Today, thousands of visitors walk, bike, cross-country ski, ride a horse or mule, or otherwise find their way between North Bend and Central Washington on the backbone of the regional trail system in the Greenway, bringing economic revenue to towns and communities along the way.
The Greenway Trust strongly supports efforts to completely repair the Thorp tunnels, and will encourage Washington State Parks and the Washington State Legislature to fully fund this magnificent recreation facility in our state.