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Yakima, Washington

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Oporto 1776 (17) on 6th Avenue, inbound. Photo by Peter Ehrlich.

Contents

Overview

Yakima, Washington--in the heart of Apple Country, at one time had an extensive interurban and electric freight operation. The City of Yakima also had its own trolley network.

The beginnings of Yakima Valley Transportation came about in 1907, when the line to Selah opened. Ultimately, branches to Ahtanum, Wiley City, Union Gap and Summitview were built, all serving the apple orchards, and YVT reached a total length of 44 miles. Two Niles-built interurbans, shorter than most, served passengers, and a number of electric locomotives were also acquired. Control of YVT passed to Union Pacific at some point in time, and passenger service ended in 1947. Freight service, however, continued to 1985, and the Selah line was the last in service.

In the meantime, a city system developed in Yakima as well. The zenith of Yakima trolleys occurred in 1930, when three Brill Master Unit cars were acquired. These lasted to the close of the city system in 1948, and the three Master Units went to the Portland Traction system, and continued to operate until 1958. All three went to museums in the Pacific Northwest.

In 1974, Yakima Interurban Lines Association was formed to run historic streetcars on the remaining Selah branch. Two "eight-window" 4-wheel trolleys from Oporto, Portugal, which were similar to cars that operated in Yakima, were purchased and restored for service. They were numbered 1776 and 1976 in honor of the U. S. Bicentennial. In actual operation, they are referred to as numbers 17 and 19. In the late 1980s, Master Units 21 and 22 were acquired, and #21, the better of the two, was placed in service.

Under YILA management, operation was always mired in politics with both the city and with private property owners, and was embroiled in financial troubles as well. At one point, there were attempts to sell the Master Units to San Francisco Municipal Railway or other organizations, but those fell through. (The sources at Muni I talked to knew nothing about this!) Eventually, a new entity, Yakima Valley Trolleys, was formed, replacing YILA in 2001 and returning the service to a sound footing. Trolleys returned to operation in 2002, and now run on weekends during the summer months.

The line to Selah is quite scenic, passing through the Selah Gap and across the Naches River. The stone carbarn and substation at Pine Street and 3rd Avenue dates to 1910. Trolleys run from here west on Pine Street to 6th Avenue, where the track curves northward through the Davis High School campus, thence in the center of 6th Avenue. A number of attractive homes and churches and a motley assortment of small businesses line 6th Avenue. Just south of the Naches River, the tracks move to the east side of the road, and then cross the river paralleling the old Northern Pacific Railroad into Selah Gap, and on into the town of Selah, ending at the Civic Center. The entire line is on the National Register of Historic Places because of its history as the last example of a country interurban.

Both Oporto cars and Master Unit 21 are in service. In addition, Yakima Valley Trolleys also owns Line Car A, built 1909, and Alco-GE steeplecab loco 298, vintage 1922. These two pieces of equipment are still in Union Pacific livery.

If you're up in Apple Country--or coming from Seattle, Portland or Anyplace, USA--Yakima is well worth the visit.

Photo Gallery


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Photo by: Peter Ehrlich

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Photo by: Peter Ehrlich

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Photo by: Peter Ehrlich

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Photo by: Fred Matthews
Collection of: Peter Ehrlich

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Collection of: Yakima Valley Trolleys web site

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Photo by: Peter Ehrlich

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Photo by: Peter Ehrlich

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Collection of: Val Golding


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Links

Official Site - Yakima Valley Trolley. The official site of the Yakima Valley Trolley, including schedules, fares, and more.

Page Credits

By Peter Ehrlich.









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