Toppenish, Simcoe & Western Railroad, Inc.

Inactive

 

The Toppenish, Simcoe & Western Railroad (reporting mark TSWR) was a short line freight carrier providing service to the western end of the lower Yakima Valley.  When the Washington Central Railroad put the old Northern Pacific Simcoe Branch (White Swan Branch) up for abandonment, the Yakima Valley Rail and Steam Museum Association (YVR&S) took on the task of keeping the line open.  With the cooperation of the Washington State Department of Transportation and Yakima County, the YVR&S was able to assume operation of the branch. With its small amount of freight and limited passenger excursions, the line was preserved.  It was run with all volunteer labor until November of 2000 when freight operations expanded.  In March of 2002 the railroad was reorganized into a fully owned for profit subsidiary of the Yakima Valley Rail & Steam Museum Association.  Operations built up to require five full time employees and many hours of volunteer labor.  Burlington Northern Santa Fe named the TSWR the regional shortline of the year in 2004 as the car count reached 2599 cars.   In 2005 the Yakima County Commissioners put the line up for bid.  The commissioners awarded the contract to the Columbia Basin Railroad (successor to the original abandoning Washington Central Railroad).  On December 20, 2005, the TSWR hauled its last train and to that date it had hauled 2996 cars for the year.   The TSWR equipment was sold and the TSWR once again is only a memory.  The Yakima Valley Rail & Steam Museum/Northern Pacific Railway Museum retains rights to operate passenger excursions on the line, but has elected to not do so at this time due to high liability insurance costs. 

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The TSWR operated  freight trains serving Yakama Forest Products, Yakima County dust abatement program (lignin), Husch & Husch Fertilizer Company, and others.  

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The TSWR and the Northern Pacific Railway Museum cooperated to run school charters.  Most were run during April, May and June.  Passenger runs began in August and ended with the Santa Claus runs in December.  Cab rides were offered on the daily freight runs. 

 

 

 

Building the White Swan (Simcoe) Branch Line          Rebirth of the Toppenish, Simcoe & Western      

 Personal Experiences on the TSWR                                  TSWR Passenger Runs - CANCELLED