Yakima trolleys return to Selah - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Yakima trolleys return to Selah

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Trolley volunteers Russ Wentworth and Ed Neel Trolley volunteers Russ Wentworth and Ed Neel

SELAH, WA - The following is a press release from Ken Johnsen, the president of Yakima Valley Trolleys.

"Yakima’s famous historic trolleys are returning to Selah on the long Fourth of July weekend. Tireless trolley volunteers have worked long and hard against huge obstacles, both man-made and natural, to clear the rail line to Selah and make it once again operable.

"Passengers aboard the trolley will once again be able to marvel at the scenic beauty of Selah Gap, where vintage trolleys traverse a steep cliff high above the Yakima River on their way into Selah.

"The trolley railroad has been in continuous operation since 1907 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the last intact early 20th Century electric interurban railroad in the United States. During the time the Selah line was inoperable, trolleys ran on Pine Street in Yakima.

"Over the years the electric railroad has faced many obstacles, but none have been as devastating to operations as the theft of the overhead wire system. Over a period of time, thieves took the copper wire that feeds power to the trolleys on the Selah line.

"An alarm system has been developed so that when new wire goes up, the police will be instantly notified if the wire gets cut by thieves, and the wrongdoers will be apprehended before any wire can be taken.

"Until the new wire goes up, a power generator car is being used with the trolley to provide the 600 volts DC current needed for operation. Ed Neel and Russ Wentworth from the trolleys’ mechanical department have fabricated parts and restored an old diesel generator for the power car.

"A huge rock slide covered the trolley tracks in Selah Gap last year. It took City of Yakima crews several days to remove the rocks, only to find four more slides had come down in the meantime. All slides have now been removed. The City of Yakima owns the entire trolley railroad.

"Track rails were broken by the slides, and trolley volunteers had to hike in and repair the track before any trolley movements over the line could be made. All is ready now for resumed operation.

"During the time that the rocks obstructed the track, vegetation grew over the tracks, and so the vegetation control company that keeps BNSF railroad tracks weed free was hired to come in and kill all the new growth on the trolley tracks. Volunteers and hired laborers then cleared out the dead vegetation so that the trolley could run through the Selah Gap without getting scratched.

"Trolley President Ken Johnsen smiled as he announced on Tuesday, “We’ve made several test runs, and everything is ready for resumption of trolley service to Selah!” Trolleys will make their first public runs to Selah on Saturday beginning at 10:00 am at the trolley barn on the corner of South Third Avenue and Pine Street in Yakima. They will also run Sunday, July 2nd, Monday, July 3rd, and Tuesday, July 4th.

"After the Fourth of July weekend, trolleys will operate Saturdays and Sundays through the end of September. Regular runs to Selah are planned for 10:00, 12:00, and 2:00. If patronage warrants, an additional 4:00 pm run may be added.

"More information about Yakima’s trolleys can be found at their website: www.yakimavalleytrolleys.org. There are many volunteer opportunities with the trolleys for those who would like to help preserve America’s last interurban railroad."

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