AMTRAK ROUTE GUIDE #15a -- Seattle, Washington to Glacier Park, Montana
Part 2 - Leavenworth to Ephrata
Ephrata to Sandpoint
Seattle to Leavenworth


132 LEAVENWORTH “Icicle Station,” 11645 North Road.  Elevation approximately 1225.  This station began service on September 25, 2009.  It serves the Bavarian styled town of Leavenworth.  This town is located in the site of an Indian village. In 1891, a settlement was established with the name of “Icicle.”  In 1892, the town was platted  and named after Captain C.F. Leavenworth, who operated the Leavenworth Townsite Company.  Leavenworth was a lumbering center in the 19th century, and when it began to die in 1962, it was transformed into the Bavarian-themed town it is now, in an effort to attract tourist.  The town is a recreational center today, and celebrates the German Maifest in the spring, as well as the Autumn Leaf Festival in October and the Christmas Lighting Festival in December.  The town is on the Wenatchee River, which is a popular whitewater rafting stream for 15 or so miles below the town.

Downtown Leavenworth is located approximately 0.5 mile southwest of the AMTRAK Icicle Station.

133   Cross Posey Canyon.

135    Pass through Peshastin.  This community's roots are found in the “Peshastin Ditch” dug by pioneers beginning in 1889.  This ditch was an important part of the overall irrigation system in the area, delivering water to the orchards on the slopes above Cashmere.  The town was founded in 1892, and its Indian name, which means “broad-bottomed canyon,” was retained.  We are still traversing the Chiwaumuk Graben.

137.5 Note the small dam on the Wenatchee River on the right (eastbound).

138.5 Cross Wenatchee River and pass through Dryden.  In 1907, the town was named by Great Northern Railway officials for an eminent Canadian horticulturist who accompanied James J. Hill on a tour through the area.  This area is noted for its fine fruit crops.  We are now leaving the Cascades, and entering a part of Washington known for its many apple and pear orchards. Looking toward the back of the train, you can see the Cascades for the last time (first time, if westbound!)

139   Cross Wenatchee River, then cross U.S. 2.

143    Passing through Cashmere.  This town was established in 1889, and platted in 1895 as “Mission,” by J.F. Woodring and I.W. Sherman.  The name came from a Jesuit mission which had been built in 1863.  The present name was given in 1902 since another town in the State carried the same name of Mission.  Responsible for the choice was Judge James H. Chase, who had visited the Vale of Kashmir in India, and liked the name.  The city is in the heart of Washington’s fruit district, and is the home of Liberty Orchards, as well as home of the Chelan County Historical Museum and Pioneer Village.  The downtown area of town has a distinctive “early American small town” look.

         The mountains across the river on the left (eastbound) above town are Triassic- and Jurassic-aged metamorphic rocks.

144. Cashmere Wastewater Plant is visible on the left (eastbound), adjacent to the Wenatchee River.

147    Pass through Monitor, which was named in honor of the Ironclad warship USS Monitor, which fought for the Union Navy in the Battle of Hampton Roads during the American Civil War.  Prior to platting, the place was known as Browns Flats.  The Wenatchee River is still next to the railroad on the left (eastbound), and the hills on either side of the valley are composed of pale colored sedimentary rocks of the Chumstick Formation.

151.5 Pass beneath U.S. 2.  Passing through town, the railroad is located between the Wenatchee River and U.S. 2. Just to the left of the railroad (eastbound), the Wenatchee River flows into the Columbia River.

154    WENATCHEE station, adjacent to the Wenatchee River at the foot of Kittitas Street.  Elevation approximately 646.  The name “Wenatchee” is from the Indian designation, which was We-na-tcha or We-na-tchi, meaning “river issuing from a canyon.”  In 1805, Lewis and Clark used the word “Wahnahchee” referring to this location.

          Wenatchee is located in the center of a well-known fruit region of Washington, and is also located close to the geographic center of the State.  Due to its location on the leeward side of the Cascades, the area is naturally too arid for farming; however, in 1903, the Highline Canal was built, which brought water to the area for irrigation.  To celebrate the abundance of fine orchards, Wenatchee hosts the annual Apple Blossom Festival in late April and early May.  Both the Washington Apple Commission Visitor Center and North Central Washington Museum are located in Wenatchee.  The State of Washington produces 80 to 90 million boxes of apples each year, accounting for more than half of the U.S. production.

          In addition to its apple crop, Wenatchee was also the destination of the first trans-Pacific nonstop air flight.  In 1931, Hugh Herndon, Jr., and Clyde Pangborn landed a single-engine Bellanca in Wenatchee, after completing a 4500-mile, 41-hour flight from Japan.

156    Wenatchee sewage disposal plant on the left (eastbound).

158    As we travel along the Columbia River, you may notice that the landscape is more arid now, as we move leeward from the Cascades, which trap much of the moisture which moves east off the Pacific Ocean. We are now in the rain shadow of the Cascades.  In this sense, we are entering a desert area, although this desert is a bit further north than most deserts with which you may be familiar.

161    The town of Malaga is visible on the right (eastbound). Malaga was platted in 1903 by Kirk Whited, whose vineyard contained grapes from the Malaga region of Spain.  the Spanish province of Malaga faces south and is famous for producing grapes, oranges, figs, sugar cane, and similar crops.  It is near Gibraltar.

         Miocene volcanic rocks are visible in the hills to the right (eastbound).

163    The train now makes a sharp bend to the left here (eastbound), as we cross the Columbia River and enter DOUGLAS County.  Wheat, fruit, and livestock are Douglas County’s chief products.  The county was created on November 28, 1883, from a portion of Lincoln County, by the Territorial Legislature only 4 days after Lincoln County had been established.  It was named after Stephen A. Douglas, U.S. Senator from Illinois from 1847 until 1861, who was also twice a candidate for the Presidency of the United States.

         The Columbia River is the arbitrary western boundary of the Columbia Plateau physiographic province.  Between here and Spokane, most of the exposed rocks you will see are flood basalts, known as the Columbia River Basalt, which erupted from a large volcano in what is now southeastern Washington during the Miocene Epoch, 13 to 16 million years ago. These volcanoes erupted later in geologic time than the Cascades, through which we have already passed. Some of this lava erupted in several long fissures in the earth’s crust associated with this large volcanic center.

          Several thousand years after the Columbia River Basalt was erupted, the Great Ice Age was in progress throughout the area, during the Pleistocene Epoch.  As the glaciers scoured the landscape, retreated slightly, then scoured it yet again, two significant things happened in the Pacific Northwest:

         1) During dry periods, the wind blew thousands of tons of yellowish silt throughout the area.  The silt was scoured from the valley walls by the glaciers, and is known as loess.  The regional deposit of loess which can still be seen in Washington and Oregon has the formation name Palouse Loess.

          2) As the glacial ice melted during warmer drier periods, extremely large lakes were impounded behind large ice sheets, the largest of these being located in northwestern Montana and known as Lake Missoula, a classic ice-dammed lake.  As this lake filled up approximately 16,000 years ago, it breached its own ice dam, resulting in a catastrophically large flood of an estimated 500 cubic miles of water which poured west over the Columbia Plateau and caused extensive scouring of the volcanic landscape.  Many of these large channels can still be seen between the volcanic bedrock hills in this area, which is known as the Channeled Scablands.  This huge prehistoric flood is known as the Spokane Flood.

          Between here and Spokane we will be traveling across areas underlain by alternating series of Palouse Loess and Spokane Flood deposits.

164    Pass the Keokuk Substation.  The Columbia River has been harnessed for electrical power in this area.  We are passing through the community of Rock Island, whose earlier name was Hammond.  It was renamed for Rock Island on the Columbia River, which is located approximately 2 miles downstream from here.

166    Cross Rock Island Creek.  On the left (eastbound) are several layers of basalt from the Miocene-aged Columbia River Basalt Series.  Rock Island State Park is located across the canyon of Rock Island Creek on the left.

167   On the right (eastbound) is the Rock Island Dam.  The powerhouse for electricity generation is plainly visible from the train. The island in the river just beyond the powerhouse is Rock Island.  The name was given long before the construction of the dam. In 1881, Lieutenant Thomas W. Symons named the adjoining rough waters Rock Island Rapids.

171    Pass beneath a freeway of power lines, attesting to the significance of the power production industry from the Columbia River.

176    As we follow the river around to the left (eastbound), the hills north of the river are composed of basalts of the Columbia River Group, capped by Pleistocene glacial deposits.

179    Cross over Highway 28 and enter GRANT County at a place called Trinidad. Trinidad was named after the Colorado town of the same name (see RR Log #35b) reportedly because of its similar scenery and topography. Trinidad is the home of the Crescent Bar Resort on the Columbia River.

          Grant County is an agricultural county covering 2777 square miles, and producing wheat, fruit, potatoes, and livestock.  It was established on February 24, 1909, by the State Legislature.  The county was named after Ulysses S. Grant, 18th President of the United States, and leader of Union forces during the Civil War.  In the 1850’s, Grant served at Fort Vancouver.

179.5 The train is now skirting the edge of Lynch Coulee, a deeply incised channel in the Channeled Scablands (see MP 163 above).  The exposed bedrock is the Columbia River Basalt.  We have now changed course and are no longer following the Columbia River.

182.5 Pass through a very sharp switchback curve,

184    Pass through a short tunnel, then look for a picturesque waterfall on the right (eastbound) in Crater Coulee.

185    Pass through a place called Crater, which was named for a nearby extinct volcanic crater. Notice the little lake on the right (eastbound).  We are traversing part of the Quincy Basin, which was a large temporary lake formed during the Spokane Flood (see MP 163 above).  The sediments visible from the train are primarily Palouse Loess.

186   Babcock Pumping Station is visible on the right (eastbound), in Crater Coulee.

189-190  Pass through Quincy, which was founded as a railroad camp during construction of the Great Northern Railway in 1892, and was incorporated on March 27, 1907.  It was named after Quincy, Illinois.  Today it is a small agricultural town; and every 2nd Saturday in September, Quincy celebrates Farmer-Consumer Awareness Day.  For a month beforehand, the roads leading to town are decorated with signs showing local crops and products made with them.  On the day of the celebration, floats created by local schools and farm equipment parade through town.  Free agricultural and geology tours are offered, as well as a produce sale, tractor pull, Farm-to-Market fun run, and many other activities.

193-196  The railroad is now paralleling an irrigation canal on the north (left if eastbound).  Irrigation is needed in this quite arid area.  According to AAPG geologic maps, the Palouse Loess is visible to the north of the tracks, and other types of Quaternary glacial deposits are located on the south; however, as we travel through the area, there is no visual difference between the two sides of the railroad.

196    Pass through Winchester.  The Wasteway West Canal is visible on the north (left if eastbound).

197.5 Cross Wasteway West Canal.  Just past the canal crossing is a siphon which transfers drainage and runoff water from the north beneath the railroad and through a short tunnel to another drainageway to the south.

203   Cross over Washington Highway 28.  Exposed rocks in this area are basalts of the Columbia River Group.

204    The hills to the northwest (left if eastbound) are composed of Palouse Loess.

206.5 EPHRATA station, 24 Alder Street N.W.  Elevation approximately 1275.  Ephrata is a small agricultural town, and irrigation water comes from the Columbia Basin Project, a Federal project which began in the 1930’s and was designed to supply both hydroelectric power and irrigation to 1.2 million acres of semiarid scablands.  Ephrata was founded by the Egbert Brothers, an 1882 horse breeder.  In 1902 the town was platted as a townsite by J. Cyrus.  Before the Columbia Basin Project, irrigation was provided by local springs.  The first name given to this place was Indian Grave Springs, as there were many Indian graves in the nearby hills.  Later the name was changed to Beasley Springs, for Frank Beasley, who lived in the area before the Egberts.  In 1892, the present name was given by Great Northern Railway Company surveyors, and was reportedly named after the Palestinian village of Ephrata, mentioned in the Old Testament as Ephratah, the former name of Bethlehem.

                The town is the home of the Grant County Historical Museum and Pioneer Village.  The Pioneer Village consists of 29 reconstructed buildings, including a saloon, dress shop, blacksmith shop, and livery stable.
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