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A Slice of History in Downtown Yakima - Yakima Electric Trolley PDF Print

Experience Yakima's Past on the Inter-urban Railroad 

How many all-original turn-of-the-century interurban railroads are left in the United States?  Just one, and it’s located in Yakima, WA.  The public can experience this part of Yakima’s history first hand by riding the Yakima Valley Trolleys.  They operate on the tracks of the former Yakima Valley Transportation Company, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Though it has operated every year since 1907, the nature of the Yakima railroad service has changed substantially over time.  The railroad was originally constructed between 1907 and 1913.  By 1920, 48 track miles had been laid to locations such as Selah and Wiley City. The lines were used for freight, sightseeing, and tourist transportation to events like the Washington State Fair and the Hippodrome amusement park.  By 1933, the Fair was no longer being held, and passenger ridership declined, forcing the railway to end passenger service in 1947.

In 1974, trolley service for tourists was restarted with two trolleys imported from the Tramcar Museum in Oporto, Portugal.  Incorporated in 2001, The Yakima Valley Trolleys non-profit organization now operates the railroad for the City of Yakima, continuing to provide historical education and recreation for sightseers and students of vintage rail transit.

Located at S. 3rd Avenue and Pine Street in downtown Yakima, the Yakima Electric Railway Museum offers visitors the opportunity to see vintage power generating equipment, streetcars, electric locomotives, and machinery.  Admission to these exhibits is free. 

The original stone and timber carbarn/shop building and a concrete and masonry substation, originally built in 1910, serve as the starting point for customers riding the Trolleys.  The hour and a half round trip travels along a five and a half mile route from downtown Yakima and through the Selah Gap.  It is a pleasant and fun expedition for all ages, and is truly a unique way to enjoy the Yakima Valley.

Trolley fares are $6 for adults, $4 for children 6-12 and seniors (60 years or older), or $15 for a family (2 adults and 2 children).  Children under five on an adult’s lap are free.  These fares, along with donations, are the only funds which keep the Yakima Trolleys in operation. 

Further information about the trolleys, along with an updated operating schedule, can be found on the web at www.yakimavalleytrolleys.org.  For even more in depth information about the history of the Yakima Valley Transportation Company and the Yakima interurban trolley lines, check out the book "Apple Country Interurban" by Ken Johnsen.


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