Waterville’s Railroad History took an amazing journey and ended up in Ripley’s Believe It or Not.

County Surveyor Predicts RR Coming, then, when the Mansfield to Columbia River Railroad was built in 1909, it by-passed Waterville.


Here’s what happened next:

County Surveyor

Ole Ruud in 1902

Predicts Railroad.​

July 8, 1908

GNR Informs Waterville

“Up To The People”!

Waterville Notified Of Costs.

Railroad To Waterville

Estimate $110,000

= $3.5 million today.

Seattle. July 15, 1909

Waterville Committee

Negotiate With GNR.

Douglas County Residents “Subscribe”.

July 29, 1909

Will Waterville

Build The Road?

August 12, 1909

GNR Special Exhibit.

Discuss Benefits.

Wenatchee Enters Counter-Offer!

August 5, 1909

Wenatchee Asks

How About Us?

August 12, 1909

Wenatchee Declines

For Now.

August 1909 – Douglas County Residents Rally Together!

Those Who Haven’t

Contributed Should

Do So At Once!




Final Plans.

September 9, 1909

Railroad Stock


September 16, 1909

Agreements Made.

Work To Begin.

Details, Details and More Details!

September 30, 1909

GNR Supplies

Ties & Rails.

October 7, 1909

Sealed-Bids Accepted

Construction Contract.

Contract Awarded.

October 14, 1909

Work To Begin.

Finish 60 Days.

October 21, 1909

50-60 Teams Used!

Ready For Ties 40 Days.

Horse Teams Used To Grade Access Road.

October 14, 1909




Grading Finished – Steel Rails Ordered!

December 1, 1909

Ready For Rails.

Connect North.

November 25, 1909

Early Grade Finish.

Snow Appears.

Stockholders Meeting – Winter Stops Work

January 6, 1910

Stockholders Meet

Hear Railroad Status.

January 20, 1910

Waterville Depot

Plans Arrive.

May 19, 1910

Grade Work Finished.

Bridges Culverts Ready.

Getting Close, Really Close!

June 9, 1910

Track Laying

Laid By Hand.

June 23, 1910

Waterville Depot

Sealed-Bids Received.

July 28, 1910

Steam Whistle

Heard In Town!

Success! All Aboard For Douglas, Wenatchee, Seattle and Portland!

August 11, 1910

Great Northern

Sending Locomotive.

August 18, 1910

Engine #299

Waterville’s Locomotive!

Trains Now Running!

August 25, 1910

1st Passenger Train.

1st Passenger Owens.

August 25, 1910

Engineer #299

Mr. Wellman.

Trains Benefit All.

August 25, 1910

Excursion Train.

Douglas Adventure!

September 8, 1910

Demonstration Train

State College, Pullman

1,000 People At Event!

September 9, 1910

Waterville Railway.

Railway Rumbles!

September 22, 1910

Demonstration Train

State College Success!


(article continued below)

Morning Train North – Afternoon Train South

September 22, 1910

Waterville Railway


Success! We Did It!

December 1911

Waterville Railway

Statement of Affairs

December 1911

Honesty Revealed

Excellent Management

In 1920, in order to cut-costs, Waterville Railway Company Buys Nash Truck For Rail Transport.

The Mansfield Branch Line was constructed by the Great Northern Railway in 1909, and was completed in just 9 months. Because of extra costs, Waterville was not included in the original track laying.

Starting from the Columbia River and ending in Mansfield, the 60.62 miles of track cut through the southern portion of the Moses Coulee, snaked up Douglas Creek and made its way across the vast wheat fields of the Waterville Plateau.

The train made scheduled stops at Palisades, Alstown, Douglas, Supplee, Withrow, Touhey and Mansfield to drop off and pick up loaded 40 ft boxcars of grain from The Waterville Union Grain Co. (a predecessor of the Central Washington Grain Growers, Inc.).

The line was completed in October 1909 as the Moses Coulee Branch, connecting Mansfield to Wenatchee.

From the beginning until about the late 1940s, both freight and passenger service shared the rail, but because of declining sales the passenger train was eventually removed. The train went from 5 day a week service to down to 2 to 3 days a week service, and eventually to Sunday only in the 1970s and 1980s.

The branch line was rebuilt after the floods of 1938 and 1948. In 1948, the estimated cost of repairs exceeded $1,000,000.00. Several wooden bridge trestles and track had to be repaired in order to keep the train operational. Great Northern Railway’s records show that 49 wooden trestles were built along this stretch the track, the most of any branch line in the United States. Also, one wooden tunnel was constructed near the falls at Douglas Creek, and in 2000 the tunnel collapsed from years of neglect. In 2000 both ends were closed up with thousands of cubic yards of soil.

The Mansfield branch was one of the last branch lines in the country to still use boxcars to move wheat. This method, by the early 1980s, was considered obsolete. New covered hoppers by this time were doing all of the grain hauling and the Mansfield Branch Line was too light to carry these cars. This was because the 68-pound-per-yard rail could not handle the larger hoppers that Burlington Northern Railroad had in its inventory. This and the increase of truck transportation led to the demise of the line.

The Great Northern Railway built and maintained ownership of the line from 1909 until 1970, when the newly formed Burlington Northern Railroad (BN) was transferred ownership of the line during the merger forming it. On March 2, 1985, the last train made its run closing 76 years of granger railroading history in Douglas County. The last train consisted of two BN EMD GP39-2 locomotives #2730 & #2738, 40 boxcars and one caboose.

As of 2008 the abandoned railroad right of way is a hiking trail.