Just east of milepost 1714 another concrete wall begins. This was the back wall of a combination concrete-and-timber snowshed that led to the Windy Point Tunnel. The 1,221-foot Windy Point Tunnel was built in 1913. Originally, the tunnel was only large enough for a single track. In 1914, the tunnel was enlarged to be large enough for two tracks, though a second track was never added.
The Windy Point Tunnel is not safe for hikers to walk through, and in addition, the tunnel's length and curvature would make some kind of lighting a necessity. The Iron Goat Trail follows the route the railroad followed before 1913, along a ridge on the edge of Windy Point.
From the viewpoint at Windy Point, Scenic and the west portal of the Cascade Tunnel are clearly visible 800 feet below. When a train is in the tunnel, the exhaust from the trains diesel locomotives is forced out this end of the tunnel by powerful fans at the other end. The smoke from this exhaust can be seen in this picture. If you were to stand in front of the west portal of the tunnel while the exhaust fans are running, it would feel like a 40 mile per hour wind, produced by fans nearly 8 miles away! At this point, there is no way to tell which way the train is going in the tunnel.
In this picture, the train that was in the tunnel is emerging. The tunnel's exhaust fans continue to run until the entire train is out of the tunnel. The tunnel is straight, but not level, and this train has been going downhill through the tunnel, so the locomotives have not been working very hard. As we will soon see, this is a fairly short train with an unusual load.
This train is carrying bodies for Boeing commercial airliners. In this picture you can clearly see a complete body, minus the wings and tail, on a specially equipped flat car. The tall enclosed railcars in the train are carrying the wing and tail components. Boeing airliner bodies are manufactured at a factory in the Midwest, and then shipped to Boeing's main factory near Seattle for final assembly, outfitting and test flights. This cargo is too large to move by truck on a regular basis, as Boeing does. As it is, these shipments require specially-designed railcars, and the airliner bodies exceed standard railroad clearances, so special procedures must be followed as well, and they are usually moved in a dedicated train, with no other cargo.
Also visible from here is Deception Creek and Deception Falls, on the other side of the valley.
At the east end of the Windy Point Tunnel is a 288-foot concrete arch that was built in 1914 when the tunnel was widened. This arch served as a permanent snowshed to protect the tunnel entrance from falling rocks. At the end of this arch is another concrete wall that was the back wall of a double-track combination concrete and timber snowshed that butted up against the arch. This snowshed was 737 feet long and was built in two parts between 1914 and 1915.
This photo taken from U.S. Highway 2 illustrates the difference in elevation between Scenic and Windy Point. Scenic is in the lower left corner (note the highway overpass) and Windy Point is on the mountainside in the upper right corner.
View from Windy Point of the Cascade Tunnel under construction on May 15, 1928 (UW)
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