To "sell" the project to skeptical Seattle citizens, tours were organized, and this required acquiring several passenger coaches to carry up to 500 people per weekend trip. There were several homemade cars, one ex-Northern Pacific coach, four cars from the Puget Sound Electric which had been abandoned at the end of 1928, and five cars from the Oregon Electric which had abandoned passenger service in 1933.
The tours ended with the advent of WW II but in 1945 the ex-OE cars were still in daily use on the three-roundtrips-per-day schedule between Newhalem and Diablo, pulled by one of the secondhand electric locomotives or express cars. Everything was in immaculate condition, painted chrome yellow with green trim.
The Skagit Hydroelectric Project was nearly completed in 1954, and the railroad was abandoned. Four of the five ex-OE cars were saved -- two to become part of Andy's Diner (now Orient Express Restaurant) in Seattle and two which went to the Willamette Valley Electric Railway Association in Portland, Oregon. WVERA was disbanded a few years later, and the two cars ended up on the Vernonia, South Park & Sunset Steam Railroad where they joined other ex-Oregon Electric cars purchased from the Pacific Great Eastern in British Columbia. Around 1970, the VSP&SSRR ceased operations, and the ex-OE cars were sold to the Black Hills Central in South Dakota where several are used in the daily tourist train.
Ownership History:Oregon Electric #65 1912-1934 / Skagit River Railway #16 1934-1955 / 1st preserved by Willamette Valley Electric Railway Association 1955-1966 / later preserved by Vernonia South Park & Sunset Steam Railway Association 1966-1970 / Black Hills Central(Hill City, South Dakota) 1970-present
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