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POPULAR SKY VALLEY HIKING TRAIL TO OPEN FOR SEASON
May 16, 2012
(MONROE, WA) -- One of the classic and easily accessible hiking trails in the Sky Valley opens for the season Thursday morning at 9:00 am.
Hiking the Iron Goat Trail. Photo: courtesy trailvolunteers.org. CLICK TO ENLARGE
That’s when the Iron Goat Interpretive site and trail opens for public use after a long winter of closure, according to Jeff Adamson of the Washington State Dep’t of Transportation’s North Central Region.
The site is located at milepost 58 on U.S. Highway 2 just 6 miles west of the Stevens Pass Summit.
It is a family friendly trail that has deep historical roots in this area.
The trail – thanks to many volunteers who put in countless hours clearing boulders, downed trees, rocks and scrub - takes you to the site of one of the worst industrial age disasters in American history, and the worst natural disaster with the greatest number of fatalities in Washington State history: the Wellington train disaster of March 1, 1910.
That was when some 96 men, women and children lost their lives in a frigid winter here in the Cascade Mountains in what has become known over the years as the Wellington Train Disaster or alternately just the “Wellington Disaster.”
DEATH CAME CALLING
Death came calling for those 96 folks during the early morning hours (1:42 a.m.) of March 1 when a huge avalanche of heavy and very wet snow, boulders, rocks, trees and mountain scrub brush came roaring down Windy Mountain and taking with it two Great Northern railroad trains full of people.
Because the name Wellington came to be associated with such a terrible disaster the town was later renamed Tye, and by 1913 the Great Northern had constructed large “snow-sheds” over the nine miles of tracks between Scenic and Tye in order to protect trains from future killer avalanches.
In 1929, a new tunnel was built and that made the old grade obsolete.
That old grade is now the Iron Goat Trail that follows the old railroad grade through the forest and up to the site of the disaster.
The trail is safely hiked May through October. It remains closed six months out of the year due to avalanche danger.
More on the Iron Goat at www.irongoat.org