BACK
One of the most unknown and yet interesting railroad grades in America is the BNSF mainline grade out of the Columbia River Gorge east of Wenatchee, Washington. The Trinidad Loop line as it is often called, leaves the river and climbs up the cliffsides of the gorge and then away into Lynch Coulee before rounding a very tight horse shoe curve and continuing up the opposite wall of the coulee. It then punches through the hill in tunnel 11.1 emerging into this scene: a volcanic crater! The crater is the result of a prehistoric waterfall from the Columbia plataue that occured on a grand scale after the ice age. The fragmented lava columns in this volcanic crater broke away in the massive power from the waterfall. A much larger crater like this one can be seen north of Ephrata Washington at "Dry Falls". The rock cut in the distance provides exit from the crater , where the line continues the climb for two more miles to top out, in Quincy, Washington. Here a westbound hotshot with a string of Boeing airplanes descends toward the crater's tunnel in September of 99'. This issue of High Iron Online features this amazing grade on the Editor's Corner page. Iron Horse America also has a feature video tape about the grade in the works later this year.