The Chelatchie Prairie Railroad is a historic icon that serves as a tourist attraction and is the perfect family outing destination. Make sure to visit it if you are in Vancouver for a few days or if you’re a local who’s looking for something new to do.
Railroad construction began in January of 1887 under the direction of L.M. Hidden. The main purpose of the railroad was to transport lumber and mining materials. However, an economic depression stalled work on the railroad before it’s completion and it eventually had to be sold in 1897. At that point the railroad reached Bush Prairie. When the railroad began transporting lumber from that area, stockholder profit more than tripled in value within the first year of new ownership. The sudden profits made it viable to expand the railroad, and construction began.
In 1903 they reached Yacolt. The railroad changed ownership again and began transporting passengers in addition to resources. Finally, in 1948, the railroad reached Chelatchie Prairie. From 1960 to 1979 the railroad supplied a paper mill. It would change ownership one more time before the railroad would be owned by Clark County. Community volunteers helped restore the railroad in 2001 and it re-opened for visitors.
Now the railroad only operates on weekends from May through December. Most months it’s only operational 2 weekends in the month, with July and December being the exception and offering 3 weekends of train rides. Trains leave from Yacolt, WA, which is located about a 40 minute drive from the I-15. For those visiting Mt. Saint Helens, this would be a good day excursion as it is located in the foothills of the mountain.
Amazing volunteers keep this operation going. Train enthusiasts will enjoy seeing the various diesel and steam engines, prior to boarding. Rides tend to last about 2 hours with a stop at Moulton Falls, a bridge crossing and you’ll spend about 30 seconds in a tunnel. Keep in mind that this is a historical train, so bring plenty of blankets and coats if you go on a cold day!
There are different types of rides, one of which is a Western Robbery Ride. This ride includes stopping at one point due to a “hold-up”; volunteer actors and actresses will then board the train, acting like Western bandits. Other rides include the Headless Horseman, and the Wine Train. During Christmas time they offer Santa Rides with free hot cocoa and cookies. Children will also receive a small gift from Santa and of course, there will be lots of picture taking. You can also pick out a tree and bring it back to Yacolt. This has become a family tradition for people in the area!
Looking for More to do in Vancouver?
Take a look at our “Local Eats In Vancouver” post for dinner recommendations after your fun-filled train ride. Keep Insight Pest Solutions in mind as you notice different pests appearing throughout the seasons. We are experts in controlling pest populations such as rodents, ants, spiders, bed bugs and mosquitos. Check out our post about the Mosquito Life Cycle.