Last Saturday, a group of us from Franke Tobey Jones joined folks from the Ruston Senior Center to have a wonderful day on the Mt Rainier Scenic Railroad. Our bus driver took us to Elbe, WA, the terminus for the tour.
We got there in time for breakfast at the local diner which is made from old railroad cars. There’s also a motel behind the restaurant made out of old cabooses.
The interior is has some wonderful old artifacts including this etched window (I hope you can see where it says “Silver Palace Car” and “Southern Pacific 1865″).
They also have a large emblem from Union Pacific Railroad.
The best part, though, are all the model trains – engines and cars – they have on display on a ledge around the top of the walls.
Elbe is an historic little town with an interesting old church and some old buildings that were there around the turn of the twentieth century. It was a jumping off point for the logging industry who spread out from there to logging camps all over Mt Rainier.
They have one of the old logging engines and coal cars on static display by the depot.
We looked around their gift shop, and about that time here came the train.
We climbed on board, and settled ourselves for a 45 minute ride to the old logging camp and museum they have set up near Mineral, a little town on the shores of Mineral Lake.
Along the way we passed wild flowers in the fields, and beautiful old trees and second growth forest.
We crossed a bridge over the Nisqually River which flows out of the glacier on Mt Rainier. Unfortunately the clouds were thick and we couldn’t see the mountain.
After we crossed the river we followed the winding track which ran alongside Mineral Creek.
We finally arrived at the Railroad Camp.
The Railroad Camp is where they have a museum, many old steam engines, and a whole logging camp set up. The buildings were built on skids and moved from camp to camp by flatcar when the trees in one area had all been logged.
They have one of the “dormitories” set up with furnishings for the women who cooked and cleaned for the lumberjacks. The others will be furnished as bunkhouses as funds become available.
There were all sorts of equipment from logging donkeys to large steam engines to things I had no idea what they were. I know Ray would love to poke around there. (The one thing I noticed was that none of the engines had cowcatchers. I guess they didn’t need such a thing in the forest.)
As we rode back to Elbe, we were reminded that Mt Rainier is so big, it creates its own weather. As we crossed the Nisqually, the rains came and we were glad to be snug in the railcar, and close to our bus for the ride back to Tacoma.