History of the Cowlitz Chehalis & Cascade Ry and Northern Pacific.
In 1912 the Washington Electric Railway was formed to push a trolley line north from Chehalis, Washington, a town of some size and several class 1 railroad connections to Centralia, Washington. By 1918 the rails were 18 miles out, having crossed and re-crossed the Newaukum River three times along the valley floor. In January 1929, with traffic in people and timber playing out, the rails to Centralia were pulled and the remaining line was sold and renamed the Cowlitz, Chehalis & Cascade by men who had their eyes on the Douglas fir that stood in the Newaukum River valley, due east of Chehalis. As the valley became farmland the only alternative to abandonment was to push farther west, up into the Cascades.
The little line bedazzled itself at one time with visions of a 170-mile main line, knifing through the Cascades in low-altitude White Pass to reach Yakima in central Washington following the 1878 NP survey. It finally settled for a more modest mileage out to East Winston its terminal in 1954. The CC&C’s two daily trips brought in 50 to 60 loads a day of Cascade’s lumber and combined with switching provided for industry in Chehalis was sufficient to keep the wolf away from the door and satisfy the line’s four owners: Great Northern, Milwaukee Road, Northern Pacific and Union Pacific. However, a lumber lines familiar fate – – vanishing traffic because of cut over timber land – – began to overtake the CC&C.
Birth of the Pacific Cascade Railway.
As a decision to abandon was once again being considered in 1955, the four parent companies decided instead to revisit the original plans and 1878 surveys by Northern Pacific’s Charles A. White (who discovered and named White Pass) to extend the line across the Cascades at White Pass to Yakima, Washington. Soon crews were dispatched and, under the new road name of Pacific Cascade Railway, the line began winding over White Pass and on to Yakima. With access by 1956 to the rich Yakima valley to the east and trackage rights over the Milwaukee Road to Gray’s Harbor to the west the line once again prospered.