In the summer of 1999, a group of volunteers formed “The Friends of the South Cle Elum Depot”. Their goal was the rehabilitation and historic preservation of the Milwaukee Road facilities at South Cle Elum, which were showing the effects of time and abandonment. This group evoved into the Cascade Rail Foundation, or CRF, as it is known today.
The CRF is now a Washington State nonprofit corporation, and operates under a 501(c)(3) tax-deductible status.
It is the vision of the Cascade Rail Foundation, in partnership with Washington State Parks, that the South Cle Elum site, in the Iron Horse State Park, will become a significant resource for the region and the nation. Our goal is to preserve the site of the Milwaukee Railroad in South Cle Elum and to tell the story of the Milwaukee’s electrification and route through Washington and the Cascade mountains. The site is dedicated to the interpretation and preservation of the history of the Milwaukee Road’s western extension and electrification. The Milwaukee is considered one of the most significant and cherished railroads ever to exist in the United States.
Washington State Parks and Recreation is the owner of the 12 acre site. It is situated on the John Wayne Pioneer Trail which runs the length of the 110 mile long Iron Horse State Park, the original rail bed of the Milwaukee Railroad. (Part of the Rails to Trails program.) The site consists of the railyard, the depot, built in 1909, and the substation that was completed in 1920. Still standing but in private ownership are the three operators bungalows.
We have worked with Washington State Parks since 1999 to rehabilitate the Milwaukee Railroad Depot in South Cle Elum and now have a beautifully restored depot, built in 1909, with a developing interpretive center and a fully operational “Beanery”, the Depot Cafe.
A 2200 foot, 18 stop, ADA accessible interpretive trail through the railyard was completed in 2006 to help tell the story of the site. Our long term goals are to restore the brick substation into a full railroad museum to continue to tell the story. We also plan to acquire and display significant pieces of rolling stock as they become available.