Mount Rainier relaunches Willamette No. 2 with doubleheader

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Rayonier Willamette No. 2 steams again at Mount Rainier Scenic Railroad.
Nikki Burgess
ELBE, Wash. — Spring in the Pacific Northwest brings two known events involving water; the Cascade Range foothills become the playground for kayakers challenging the rivers raging with snowmelt, and the Mount Rainier Scenic returns to steam. Saturday, June 2, provided a serendipitous example of both in the same frame.

The day marked the return to service of Rayonier No. 2, the world’s only operational Willamette-type locomotive. A derivative of the similar Shay model of geared engines, No. 2 was erected in 1929 and after a busy lifetime hauling lumber has just finished a second rebuilding at the Mount Rainier Scenic Railroad in Mineral, Wash.

Her first run in regular service following that effort is shown here. After a little teething trouble during a break in trip, the railroad assigned Hammond Lumber No. 17, a 2-8-2T to handle the morning passenger trip and was originally to follow the passenger train home as a light engine. The No. 2’s debut revenue run became a rare last-minute regular service doubleheader.

The duo is shown pounding east out of Elbe past the railroad-themed Elbe Bar & Grill alongside Washington highway 706, the National Park Highway. Meanwhile, a pickup truck flits across the scene bearing kayaks, which fill the currently raging rivers in the area as paddlers test their skill against the snowmelt. Two ways to have a great time, vastly different in scope, but both using the pristine waters of the Cascade springtime. Serendipity!
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