Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad Coming Back to Life

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The Western Forest Industries Museum (WFIM) has reformed and is planning to reopen the Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad and Museum after they were shut down in 2020 due to operational difficulties and COVID-19, according to a news release. 

While WFIM originally founded the railroad back in 1980, it was sold to American Heritage Railways (AHR) out of Colorado in 2016 when WFIM was broken up. AHR was operating the railroad when it shut down in 2020,

Then, in August 2022, the WFIM got a new management team and board of directors. Seeing that WFIM had been reformed, AHR returned any railroad-related assets to WFIM. 

The reopening won’t start until the spring. It will be a phased reopening as there is a lot of work yet to be done to get the steam engines running again, according to the news release. 

“We will be undertaking a phased reopening plan,” said WFIM Executive Director Bethan Maher. “We will be launching a railbike attraction — RailCycle Mt. Rainier — this upcoming spring. Our plans include restoring several steam locomotives to service, relaunching railroad operations, and constructing a new museum that will provide a more inclusive and contextualized history of the people that lived along and worked on our historic railway. It’ll take us a few years to get there, but it’s a worthwhile project with a broad coalition of support.” 

When the railroad itself finally relaunches, hopefully in 2024 or 2025 according to Maher, it will continue hosting past events including The Polar Express Train Ride and the Rails to Ales excursion. The museum will be expanded. Railroad operations will also be expanded to include the town of Eatonville. 



The museum will still focus on the lives of the loggers, their equipment and ingenuity but will also now include the stories of the Nisqually people as the railroad was constructed and still operates on their land, according to the release. 




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