Our Past | 1909: Mansfield branch on the way

Selected by Karen Larsen

In the early part of the 1900s, wheat was hauled out of Waterville through a tram system that ran down Pine Canyon. How excited farmers were when the Great Northern Railway Company began to lay out plans for a branch connecting Wenatchee to Mansfield. When it was known that the line would pass through Douglas and not Waterville, farmers and businessmen got together to form their own railway company and build their own line from Waterville to Douglas, thus connecting Waterville to the branch. The following excerpts come from an article published in the Sept. 2, 1909 edition of the Douglas County Press that tells of the day that the Mansfield branch track reached Douglas.

 

At Douglas City

On Friday, August 27, the track laying crew of the Mansfield branch of the Great Northern from Columbia Siding reached Douglas, which is the first town in Douglas County to be touched by the railroad. To say that it was a glad day to Douglas and the adjoining wheat ranchers is putting it mild. To see cars standing on a siding at Douglas has been the dream of many residents, and it became a realization last Friday when the track laying crew steamed their engine into the town on its mission of laying track for a sure enough railroad.

It is said the people of Douglas had got used to the engine’s whistle and were not afraid to go right up to it, especially Jim Nelson and “Dad” Garrett. But the people of Waterville were more timid and a large number who had gone down to see it congregated on the hill afar off and watched its workings.

The main line and side track were soon laid and the spiking crew followed closely and spiked the rails down. The carpenter gang will soon follow when the depot will be erected and freight will be coming to Waterville by way of Douglas ere long, as well as passengers.

The work will be pushed rapidly on to Mansfield — being now some six miles beyond Douglas.

Douglas is proud of the fact that she is now a railroad town with all the facilities for reaching the outside world. Waterville gladly doffs her hat to Douglas in her proud distinction in the hope that she will be the next town to claim that honor.

In our rejoicing, we bid goodbye to the tiresome canyon road — she has outlived her usefulness, although she has been a great friend in days gone by.