Chelatchie Prairie Railroad welcomes back visitors

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The Chelatchie-Prairie Railroad (BYCX) in Yacolt welcomed riders back for the debut of its season last month with a train robbery reenactment.

After a year-long break, more than 100 attendees filled the train cars for each trip on both Friday, July 17 and Saturday, July 18.

“People seem to be happy to get out and ride the train again after a year or more of being closed down,” BYCX president Randy Williams said.

“Robbers” boarded the train and made a break for it with the guests’ valuables.

Now, the BYCX volunteers are preparing for the next train ride, the “Late Summer Weekend trip.”

The group has worked every weekend to repair the deterioration of the tracks by replacing rotten railroad ties and cutting brush that grew over the tracks.

The 14-mile journey travels through Northen Clark County, and winds through farmland, a tunnel, a forest and across the Lewis River.

Visitors can ride on the diesel engine while the steam engine undergoes repairs, with hopes of returning by 2022, Williams said.

The trip usually includes a stop at Moulton Station, but it is unclear if that will still be included, he said. With COVID-19 regulations, volunteers would need to decontaminate all seats before the train takes off again.

Under federal rules, attendees must wear a mask in enclosed spaces, Williams said. The train has two open seating cars, which do not require masks for vaccinated individuals.

“Other than that, it’s the same as previous years,” he said.

Williams said there are some concerns for fire safety with the dry weather and intense fire season. A fire car will ride behind the diesel engine to put out any brush fires caused by sparks.

The BYCX volunteer program started in 1998 with the intention of restoring the railroad to function as a historical monument. The railroad was originally funded by L.M. Hidden and had its first locomotive car visit Vancouver in 1888, according to the BYCX website.

Williams said the group is always looking for more volunteers. To learn more, visit bycx.org or contact Williams at 360-686-3559.

BYCX asks for attendees to arrive 30 minutes before departure. Those interested can pick up tickets on the BYCX website.

Tickets for adults cost $18 and $12 for children ages 3-12. Children under 3 are free.

The late summer weekend trips will run at noon and 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 7 and Sunday, Aug. 8 at 207 Railroad Ave., Yacolt.

The next train robbery is scheduled for noon and 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 21 and Sunday, Aug. 22 at the Chelatchie-Prairie Railroad.

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