Memory Monday, Week 96
October 1996 — Penstock Bridge, Wenatchee River
(I’ve shared some of these images before, but this time I scanned them, and I’m much happier with their quality now.)
This was not my first visit to the Wenatchee River outside Leavenworth, but on this trip I had come with my mom on a somewhat epic train journey, and it was my first time seeing the fall colors of central Washington. I also had my own camera, a Nikon Coolpix 5700, and I made good use of it here.
The Penstock Bridge in the Tumwater Canyon outside Leavenworth is part of the Old Pipeline Trail, a short but beautifully scenic hike along the river across from Highway 2.
…it follows the route of a Penstock pipeline that carried water to power electricity for the Great Northern Railroad. Vestiges of the Tumwater Power Plant can still be seen near the bridge. In 1893, Great Northern built a line over Stevens Pass that required switchbacks due to the steepness of the grade. There were so many problems with that stretch that they abandoned it when the Cascade Tunnel opened in 1900.
The tunnel had problems as well — as eastbound trains toiled uphill it filled with smoke, and passengers and crew became ill. Great Northern resolved that problem with the use of electric trains and constructed the powerhouse with hydroelectric generators to power the trains. A dam was built upstream to drive the generators; the pipeline, an 8 1/2-foot- diameter wooden pipe, was constructed to carry water from the dam to the power station.
This system served the Great Northern for many years, but eventually the power plant was sold, and the roadbed became part of state Route 2. The trail is well-known to locals and also is called the Tumwater Canyon Trail. On the Green Trails map, it is identified as the Penstock Trail — quoted from Hike Of The Week: Scenic Hike Has Appeal For Railroad Buffs