In 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 evolved into the Cascade Rail Foundation, or CRF, as it is known today.
Cascade Rail Foundation 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 Rail Yard Historic District, in the Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail, will become a significant resource for the region and the nation. Our goal is to preserve the site of the Milwaukee Road rail yard 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 is the owner of the 12 acre site. It is situated on the 4,956-acre, 212-mile long Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail, which was once part of the transcontinental route of the Milwaukee Road railroad. The site consists of the rail yard, 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 Road 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” leased to Smokey’s Bar-B-Que.
A 2,200 foot, 18 stop, ADA accessible interpretive trail through the rail yard 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.