Skagit River Railway 21

Built in: by unknown
Type of car:interurban (coach trailer)
Current Owner:Orient Express Restaurant(Seattle, Washington)

Car History by Douglas Anderson

Skagit River Railway cars
In 1919, Seattle City Light began construction of its Skagit Hydroelectric Project on the Skagit River, about 90 miles northeast of Seattle. The damsites were many miles from the nearest road so it was decided to build a railroad from the end of a Great Northern Railway branchline to the project. The first 23 miles, to Newhalem, was pretty easy going, and was operated by a Baldwin 2-6-2, purchased new. However, from Newhalem, the Skagit River entered a very narrow and steep canyon so the next eight miles were electrified at 600V DC and operated with a variety of secondhand interurban equipment.

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 #137 ?-1934 / Skagit River Railway #21 1934-1954 / Orient Express Restaurant(Seattle, Washington) 1954-present

Facts and Figures

Status:displayed inoperableGauge:4'8.5"
Construction:woodRoof type:RREnded:DE
#Seats#Wheels/Conf.:8 (2-2)Total HP:0
MotorsVoltage (if not 600DC)


Body only