The depot has now been moved to another part of the town and will undergo a major restoration.
It's been saved and a number of plans are in place, including, as I understand it, to continue to use it to serve rail traffic
from the Mt. Rainer Scenic Railroad during the summer months. Special thanks to Craig Cootsona, Don Clevinger and
Kim Walters for sharing information and photos of the depot's move. Additional pictures are below.
|Last Update: November 10, 2005
|The Morton Depot is located near Morton, Washington and was the southern most terminus for the Tacoma Eastern
Railroad which began construction in 1887.
The Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway apparently had control over the railroad as early as 1901.
Under the Milwaukee lease, the Tacoma Eastern built the "Cowlitz Valley Extension" eight miles into Morton in 1910, thus
the birth of the Morton Depot. Later under complete control the "Milwaukee Road" the station served passenger and
freight traffic for many decades. It was closed in 1980, when the Milwaukee Road went bankrupt and abandoned or sold
off it's western lines.
Apparently, the Chehalis Western purchased the Morton branch, but it's not clear if, or how long it operated the Morton
branch. The depot was essentially abandoned in 1980. Noel Brown was the last depot train order operator and actually
lived at the depot until it was closed in 1980. He later went to work for one of the local mills before retiring.
In 1985, the Chehalis Western sold the Morton depot to the Cowlitz River Valley Historical Society for only $10. However,
it continued to fall into disrepair and disuse as did the line that ran to Morton. The Morton line was temporarily
abandoned by the 1990s and became overgrown by weeds and brush.
The Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad is based out of Elbe, Washington. In 2003, for the first time, the Mt. Rainier Scenic RR
ran a train to the Morton Depot. When John and I visited the area in late 2002, we did notice that crews were clearing the
track of brush and debris.
Today, the Tacoma Rails makes regular runs to Morton via the Morton branch to switch out the Tubafor Mill. Usually on
Monday and Thursday nights. A lot of work has been done to restore this branch and hopefully it will remain open for
years to come.
Morton was actually not the final leg of this railroad. A short spur runs southeast of Morton about 2 miles to a mill and
then another dozen or so miles into the woods as logging line. Today, you can still see the remains of that line. Several
interesting switches and rail remains do remain as well as other parts of the line that I have not yet had a chance to
explore. I believe the line from Morton, to the southeast is the Kosmos Timber Company Railroad, which built the line in
1935, and used it's own tracks and locomotives to move logs out of the local woods. The operation was based out of a
town called Kosmos that was abandoned when Riffe lake was created by dam construction.
On October 10, 2005, the depot was finally moved to its new home just a few blocks away on Fairhart Way in Morton.
Auburn based Shaughnessy lifted the depot off its foundation and moved the depot successfully. Future plans are to
restore the depot over the next year or so and then possibly serve Mt. Rainer Scenic Railroad Trains that might come
down to Morton. The depot will become the new center piece to the revitalized downtown Morton Community and will
hopefully last for many more years for future generations.
|Map showing the location of the Morton Depot and old logging spur. The guard of a local mill told us that there were plans to move the
Depot, but I haven't been able to find any details to confirm this.
|The above and below pictures of the Depot were taken when John and I visited the area in late 2002. Note my Toyota 4x4 in the picture on
the left. Photos: Spring, 2002
|John at the switch in the
Depot railyard (or what's
left of it.) The switch
probably controlled traffic
that would have crossed
the highway and headed
southeast to the logging
spur. Photo: 2002
|The outside is in fairly
poor condition, but not
|The inside is in fairly good shape for being abandoned for so
long. I'm not sure if any efforts were untaken to restore the
interior since it was abandoned. These pictures were taken
from the outside through the window as the Depot is locked
up and guarded by the security of the mill behind the Depot.
Photos: Spring, 2002
|From the Depot, you can
see the highway crossing
to the old logging spur.
|This is the logging spur
crossing on the other side
of the highway, looking
back toward the Morton
Depot. Photos: 2002
|These rails are the only
remain of what used to be
about 7 miles of logging
spur. Shortly up the road,
the rails dissappear as
they were paved over.
|The switch on the other
side of the highway from
the Depot. Photos: 2002
|These are the views of the rails north of Morton. We noticed that a crew was clearing the tracks here, but at the time, we didn't know why. It
appears this section of rails was mostly abandoned in 1980 when the CM&SP Railroad closed down and completely abandoned in the early
1990s. But after 10 years of no rail traffic whatsoever, the Mt. Rainer Scenic Railroad, based out of Elbe, north of here, began to clear the
tracks and make bridge repairs so they could run tourists along this line. Photos: Spring, 2002.
|Recent photos of the Depot's move.
|Craig Cootsona was kind enough to share these photos of the move. These show the depot after it was jacked up in preparation for the
move. Note in the far right note the brown cubical rot that destroyed the inside of the timber while the outside appeared to be protected by the
creosote. Craig noted how the depot was nice and straight when it was jacked up and appeared to be in good condition.
Craig Cootsona photos: October, 2005
|"The Cronical" Photo sent in by Don Clevinger show the move of the depot.
|This picture of the Morton Depot was taken in 1977,
when the line was still used the CM&SP railroad. It's
not clear if the depot was actually in use or an
abandoned building at this point.
|This picture was taken by Brian Fritz in 2003 and
shows the Mt. Rainer Scenic Railroad arriving at
Morton Station marking the first time, this track
has seen rail traffic in 10 years. Picture from:
|These pictures from left to right, show the debot underconstruction around 1910, in use in it's early
years, probably around 1920s and later years in the 1970s. PIctures are from:
|Tacoma Rail (Mountain Division)
Currently operations the line that runs to Morton
Mt. Rainer Scenic Railroad
Morton Depot's Office Website
Cowiltz River Valley Historical Society
|If anyone has any further information or pictures about the Morton Railroad Depot or this branch of
the CM&SP Railroad, please let me know. You can Email me anytime. Thanks.
|Copyright © 2004, 2005 Brian McCamish, All Rights Reserved
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Most photos were taken by me, except for those that are otherwise indicated. I usually allow people to use my photos for personal use or
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