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To reach Tacoma from the Pasco area, the Northern Pacific began building northwest and reached Yakima in December 1884. By using a series of switchbacks over the Cascades the line reached Tacoma in June 1887. Stampede Tunnel was completed the following year. The NP added the second track between Easton and Lester in 1913. The line is double track for six mile up to the summit at Martin, goes to single track through the Stampede Tunnel, then back to double track down the western slope. The railroad added automatic block signals Auburn, WA to Lester in 1913, Cle Elum, WA to Easton plus Pasco, WA to Alfalfa (5 miles southeast of Toppenish) in 1914. In late 1917 NP began installing automatic block signals on double track Easton to Lester 19 miles with the down hill track on each side of the mountain signaled in both directions so faster up hill trains can pass slower trains. This signal work was finished in the Fall of 1918.
Amtrak engine 102 is leading the Empire Builder west on April 20, 1973. The train is about to cross the bridge over Cabin Creek. The engines are in run 8 as the train climbs the 2.2 percent grade up to Stampede Tunnel. The Empire Builder operated daily through Yakima from the beginning of Amtrak until the late 70s when it was cut back to three days a week. The route was changed between Spokane and Seattle to the former GN line through Wenatchee in 1981. The train went back to daily service when Amtrak killed the Pioneer in 1997.
Later that afternoon just as the sun is setting behind the mountains, engine 6309 leads BN train 79 by the same location. Disk 10
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