Empire Builders at East Glacier Park
Empire Builder's at East Glacier Park by the Author

Washington State will open a new Amtrak station in Leavenworth, Washington. Icicle Station, which began construction on June 25, 2009, will open a covered platform station on September 25th. Phase 2 of the project will build a new station building and the group is accepting donations for the project.

The station code (LWA) is not currently active. I would expect this to be in the Amtrak system but the end of the week. The next station will be Stanwood station which is slated to open in November/December.

For more information regarding Icicle Station, check out the website. Perhaps someday we will get a daylight train between Seattle and Spokane and/or Seattle-Auburn-Ellensburg-Yakima-Pasco train.


36 Replies to “Leavenworth Icicle Station to open September 25th!”

  1. Another great photo, Brian… and good news, too!

    We could sure use some of those Wisconsin-built Talgos when they become available.

    1. Lloyd! Absoluately!

      I would love to see a trainset for Seattle to Spokane day trip, Seattle to Pasco via Stampede and Portland to Spokane day trip… not to mention 15 daily trips between Seattle and Portland and at least 6 to 8 between Seattle and Vancouver BC

      I can dream right?! =D

  2. Good news! Perhaps it’s better news for Spokane-ites…a day trip to Leavenworth would be tiring but very doable. Coming from Seattle you’d definitely need to spend two nights to make it worth it.

    I know that many people on the blog may express disdain for Eastern Washington, but I’m convinced that a daylight Spokane-Seattle train would be very well patronized if the travel time were reduced to 6 hours. We should be investing in medium-distance regional corridors such as these.

    1. Western Washingtoners do have a disdain for the east siders. And Easterners have a disdain for westerners. Having lived in both regions, its really apparent.

      A train would be really nice, especially since the drive is a really crappy 4-5 hours and the Empire Builder has such poor hours.

      1. There is definitely a strong anti-Western Washington current in Eastern Washington, but I have never seen it going so much the other way. I think West-siders generally don’t even have Eastern Washington in their mind. Most of the disdain on the West-side is Seattle vs. suburbs and King County vs. other counties.

      2. Yeah, you’re probably right. But as someone who lived there (well, in Coeur d’Alene, ID) for 19 years, I can tell you that many people took offense to being ignored, maybe more so than they took offense at W.W.’s ‘liberalness’. The crazies no doubt hate Western Washington, a theme I heard all too often growing up.

        Yet the east slopes of the Cascades and the forests of NE Washington are underappreciated. I don’t like Spokane, and the sagebrush desert is pretty forgettable, but more Western Washingtonians should visit places like Stehekin, Holden Village, Twisp, the Salmo Priest Wilderness, the Palouse, and the Blue Mountains south of Walla Walla. There’s just so much out there in our own state.

        STA in Spokane runs a pretty solid bus service in an antagonistic political environment, the Amtrak folks are courteous professionals who have to work at 3am every night, and even my hometown of Coeur d’Alene now runs a free transit service (though SKELETAL) for the first time. As time goes on, West-East links will become more important, not less. Three cheers for the Leavenworth train. I Hope there is more to come.

      3. STA assesses 0.6-cent sales tax; voters approved an extra 0.3 cents in 2004 with a sunset provision for 2008, when it gained permanent approval. That makes the assessment the same as Pierce Transit; haven’t researched how the political antagonisms may compare.

      4. Yakima passengers had to endure bizarre departure/arrival times with the old Amtrak route that was eliminated in the early ’80s. But that was part of a long-range route (from Denver, I think), and a regional route should offer more sensible times. Granted we have the Cascade Curtain, but there is a lot of travel and commerce between east and west, and the growing wine industry between Yakima and Tri-Cities would appeal to a natural train-riding constituency.

        BTW, when the volcano blew in 1980, the train provided the only way across the mountains for about at week to 10 days afterward. And you know, Rainier is next …

    2. Am thrilled about the opening of the Amtrak station in Leavenworth! And I know a number of people who would use the train between Seattle and Spokane if it didn’t take so long. 11-12 hours is ridiculous! We want to take the train but we’d like to get there in a time relative to driving.

  3. It could easily be reduced to 6 hours with Talgo equipment and 90mph running =) The only place that would be possible is between Spokane and Quincy. I also believe there was a study at one point for East-West Talgo service but I haven’t heard or seen anything beyond it.

    1. That is true. Not enough traffic over Stevens like in the heyday of the economy, so its hard to justify the cost of maintaining a less functional, redundant pass. But there are rumors of a Sea-Ellensburg-Yakima-Tri Cities passenger train. In 2006 (I think), the people of Kittitas County voted for a taxing district for rail service (an article in the Observer mentioned the measure and its passing).

      1. It would be nice, but I think that a SEA-AUB-ELB-PAS train is HIGHLY unlikely. Don’t get me wrong, I would be al for it, but there it is.

        A daylight hours train that went from Seattle to Spokane would be a boon to rail travel in this state. However, I think it far more likely that it would run 12 hours opposite the Builder on the Hi-Line.

      2. The state would probably have to buy the line from Auburn to Pasco from BNSF, or at least play a major role financially in keeping the Stampede Pass line open over the pass all year. But with 3 or 4 Talgos, we could easily have daily roundtrips between SEA and SPO via Wenatchee, SEA and Walla Walla via Pasco and between from PDX to SPO on the North Shore Line, with the latter 2 meeting and exchanging passengers at Pasco. We CAN dream!

  4. To brag a little, that was a project I worked on as part of my internship. Leavenworth was a pretty cool client. Even got to have coffee with the mayor! I’m really looking forward to seeing the station and its ridership numbers. I recommend going to see it, especially after the Phase II expansion is done, its a really nice station.


    Opening on my birthday no less. My dad owns a vacation condo over there. This is fantastic news.

  6. Good promotion for the Station and the Empire Builder is the festival that happens next month, in connection with the town’s Bavarian theme, Oktoberfest!

  7. If you call 1-800-USA-RAIL and ask for an agent, or visit a staffed station, you can make a reservation. The Rail station stop is in ARROW, but not available on the website, or via Julie, yet.

    Hop on for that inaugural ride before it sells out!

    You’re competing with about 30 VIP’s out of Seattle on the first day already.

    Check the Icicle Station website http://www.iciclestation.com/


    1. Thank you for that information Jim! I’ll call this weekend to make reservations on the train.

      Lloyd, Mike, will you be there?

      1. Can’t make that one, but hope to see you at our next All Aboard Washington General Membership meeting on Nov. 14th at F.X.McRory’s between 11:30 and 4pm. Guests are welcome by RSVP for the luncheon.
        At some point we need to chat about the Blaine Station.

    1. Not sure if it is possible, but maybe a stop at Skykomish should be considered. They still have to have trains wait in the siding there while the tunnel ventilates, might as well make it a station spot for skiers.

      1. Skykomish has been a long imagined stop for Stevens Pass resort but they have yet to come up with the funding for it or what train (special train or use the Empire Builder) for the stop here.

        It would be nice if they did in fact stop at Skykomish for the winter. I for one would love to go up there in the winter time without having to worry about driving in the snow. Being an avid snowboarder, I go up there a lot and would hands down take the train over driving, especially on Hwy 2.

      2. There’s rarely any snow in Skykomish. It’s only 900′ above sea level. There’s really not much of anything to do in the sleepy little town of 200 people. There’s an nice Forest Service route back to Index and I hear it’s a good place to launch for floating the river.

        According to Wikipedia:

        It was also once the western terminus for electric operations (1909-56) on the Cascade Tunnel route all the way to Wenatchee. Here, steam or diesel locomotives were changed or coupled to electric locomotives [4]. Careless waste disposal practices common during that era resulted in the contamination of its soil, its groundwater, and the Skykomish River by oil and heavy metals.

      3. Special ski trains, and accommodating skiers on Amtrak trains, have become somewhat problematic. The Vermonter and Adirondack would seem prime candidates, but in a fit of budget cutting, the Vermonter no longer carries a baggage car, and their ski business fell on precipitously as a result. And apparently, the ski train from Denver up into the Rockies will not run this season – a service that has been around for decades. All that said, The Empire Builder features ski vacations to Whitefish rather prominently in its promotional materials. Anything here would have to be run as specials on BNSF at enormous insurance costs, I’d guess.

      4. This just in, from “This Week at Amtrak”, the newsletter everyone loves to hate:

        The Chicago Tribune reported today, in a story datelined Denver, the Ski Train may be back this winter, operating between Denver and the Winter Park resort. Previously operating for 69 years, the Ski Train was thought to be dead when its previous owner ended the operation and sold his passenger rail equipment to a Canadian scenic passenger operator.

        In came Iowa Pacific Holdings, with former Amtraker Ed Ellis now as President of Iowa Pacific, and the Ski Train is back on schedule. Iowa Pacific operates other short passenger routes, mostly as scenic and entertainment trains.

        Mr. Ellis said Iowa Pacific would use Iowa Pacific equipment and contract with Amtrak to provide train and engine crews. A deal has not been finalized with Amtrak.

    2. Isn’t there a decent-size siding at the Scenic portal? With some historic buildings, no less. Maybe Wellington is still too recent…

  8. I would love a daylight (or overnight) train to Spokane. And I love both sides of Washington state. Never really had a problem with the whole east-west thing. In fact, the only thing I don’t like about traveling around WA state is trying to get over the passes – especially trying to get back into WW on a Sunday afternoon.

    I would prefer a Yakima routing. Yakima is a fine town.

    1. Yes, I love both sides of the State too, even if it is a strong Republican bastion over on the East side!

  9. Kudos to Mayor Rob Eaton of Leavenworth for his tireless work to make this happen, with support from Amtrak and All Aboard Washington.
    He thought he could… he thought he could… he… :)

  10. Kudos to Rob Eaton for his tireless support of the Leavenworth Station – couldn’t have asked for more from him and there must have been years when he doubted he would get this far. It has been an absurdly long struggle involving many interest groups as well as the usual stonewalling by the BNSF which seems to make everything incredibly difficult. This together with the difficulty of building supportive coaltions for anything rail-related at the state and – until recently – at the federal level.

    Yes, a new daily train to Spokane would be most welcome from both Seattle and Portland but this is a dream right. At least, with Leavenworth Station coming on tap, we will have added a powerful incentive to promote this idea. Especially as the train stops on the return journey to Seattle at a very early hour in Leavenworth. This will only increase the desire and hope of a more sensible evening return to Seattle based on a new daily trip to Spokane.

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