The world's first underground power generating station is located at Snoqualmie Falls. It was opened in 1898 by Charles Baker, who just a few years earlier was a civil engineer for the Seattle, Lake Shore and Eastern Railway. Fast forward to 2010. Puget Sound Energy owns the Snoqualmie Generating station and began a major reconstruction of the 112 year old plant. Scope of work includes new penstocks and replacement of a 1910 era generator. (The original 1898-built generators will return to service after project completion.)
In August 2010, efforts to construct a retaining wall above the water intake did not go as planned. Soil conditions and other factors caused movement of the hillside. Unfortunately the hillside also supports the Northwest Railway Museum’s railway, the former Seattle, Lake Shore and Eastern. Train service was immediately suspended and additional geotechnical investigation began. Changes in construction techniques, longer soil anchors, some clean ballast for the railroad, and two years of monitoring are among the mitigation measures that have been adopted.
In late March 2011 rehabilitation of the railway began. Railworks of Centralia, WA was the successful bidder and are reconstructing over 400 feet of track in a difficult location. Their crews are dismantling track, excavating old ballast and installing new, and rebuilding the track. Work is expected to take two weeks and will allow regular trains to operate on April 2, 2011.
Please enjoy this two minute video illustrating the work:
(Top) Railworks hyrail excavator at Snoqualmie Falls spreading new ballast; Salish Lodge and Spa is across the river in the distance.
(Bottom) Video shot at Snoqualmie Falls illustrating track reconstruction.