The Skagit River Railway

Last updated: January 13, 2002

This is a historical page.

The Skagit River is the second largest river in Washington State. It originates in British Columbia and flows south into Washington through the North Cascades National Park, then west through the Skagit River Valley into Puget Sound.

The Skagit River Railway was originally organized by Seattle City Light to facilitate the movement of men and materials from the end of the Great Northern's line at Rockport, to hydro electric dam construction sites further east on the river. The railroad was not a common carrier but many loads of logs and lumber from local forests and mills were transported to the GN at Rockport. The railroad operated from 1919 to 1954.

After the railroad was abandoned, the railroad's only steam locomotive, Baldwin 2-6-2 #6 was placed on display in the Seattle City Light park at Newhalem.

In 1973 a local group raised funds and tried to operate a steam excursion train on Burlington Northern (formerly GN) tracks between the towns of Sedro-Wooley and Concrete in the Skagit River Valley. They obtained permission from Seattle City Light to use the name "Skagit River Railway".

From what I've been able to determine, the operation was never able to rise above it's financial problems and had to cease operations. #6 sat in the engine house that had been built for it's overhaul in Concrete for several years until Seattle City Light was able to have it moved back to Newhalem.

The second Skagit River Railway used former Milwaukee passenger cars, and 10 years ago there were 3 of them and a small Plymouth diesel switcher at Concrete. In the early 1990's BN abandoned the tracks east of Sedro-Wooley and the right of way has become a rail trail.

Over the years I've noticed that two of the passenger cars have disappeared. Only one passenger car and the diesel switcher remain in Concrete. The disposition of the two cars that are now gone is unknown to me. If you have any information on their fate, I'd appreciate hearing from you.

I'd like to thank Aaron Schwarz and Jerry McFarlane for their assistance and contributions in preparing this web page.

I've also found these excellent links with more Skagit River Railway history.

Richard Wilkens’ Skagit River Railway Page

Jim Lancaster’s Skagit River Railway Page. Warning! This page seems to contain "flash" and other obnoxious presentation at the expense of information effects.

Here are a series of postcards from the 1970's Skagit River Railway.

Seattle City Light / Skagit River Railway 2-6-2 #6 was built by Baldwin in 1928 for use during the construction of hydroelectric dams on the Skagit River. It was returned to this park in New Halem after the Skagit River Railway ceased operations.

This is what remains of the Skagit River Rwy as of July 1997. A small Plymouth diesel, an ex-Milwaukee coach, and about 100 feet of track. There was another coach on the site recently, but it's now gone. If anyone knows where it went, I'd appreciate hearing from you. The gray gravel "path" in the foreground is the former BN railbed, now a recreational rail-trail.

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