Historic 1908 Train Crossing Closes Soon to Develop a Quiet Zone in Vancouver Washington

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Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railroad (BNSF) recently announced the closure of the historic train crossing in East Vancouver near 144th Ct and SE Evergreen Highway. This stretch of track was installed in 1908 by the first train company in Washington, eventually named Spokane, Portland and Seattle Railway or S P & S. It represented a joint venture by the Great Northern Railway and the Northern Pacific Railway to build a railroad along the north bank of the Columbia River.

Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railroad (BNSF) recently announced the closure of the historic train crossing in East Vancouver near 144th Ct and SE Evergreen Highway. This stretch of track was installed in 1908 by the first train company in Washington, eventually named Spokane, Portland and Seattle Railway or S P & S. It represented a joint venture by the Great Northern Railway and the Northern Pacific Railway to build a railroad along the north bank of the Columbia River.

The history of this location actually goes in several interesting directions. Psychologist and local historian, Kathy J. Marshack, Ph.D., says, “This crossing was granted to my predecessors for selling a strip of land for the train for $800.” After some extensive research, Dr. Marshack actually found the deed recording this transaction.

At the time, the crossing was necessary because the “new” train cut off the old road, the Columbia City to Cascade City Road (CCCC). The CCCC was opened in 1852 and was the first road commissioned by the brand new Clarke County Commissioners. In fact the road is probably the oldest in the Oregon Territory, since it was originally built by the Hudson’s Bay Co. to get to their saw mill and grist mill. It was built in 1826 and was called the Mill Road. Silas Maxon and his brother extended the road in the 1850s from Columbia City (Vancouver) to Camas.

The train crossing was also necessary in 1908 because the CCCC led to a steamboat landing on the Columbia River which is even older than the road and train. Farmers used that steamboat landing well into the 20th century because it was essential to get their crops to market. Dr. Marshack found an article in the Columbian, from 1980, that interviewed an elderly woman talking of the days when she took the steamboat from the landing behind Dr. Marshack’s home.

Dr. Marshack has done extensive research on this area of East Vancouver along the Columbia River. She is available for interview by contacting her office at 360-256-0448.

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Kathy Marshack

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