Telescope-West

Olympia-Tenino Railroad

Eastbay 1870'sLooking west across the water you can see where a little-known rail line began. In this photo from around 1890, the depot can be seen just to the north of the Deschutes Waterway bridge, now known at the Olympia Yashiro Friendship Bridge.

From the Olympia Historical Society:

In the early 1870s construction of the Northern Pacific Railroad in western Washington brought a large influx of new Chinese laborers to Olympia, adding to the existing population. Excitement ran high locally over the approach of the rails and residents expected Olympia to be the terminus on Puget Sound. When the Northern Pacific Railroad bypassed Olympia in favor of Tacoma in 1873, Olympia residents formed the Thurston County Railroad Construction Company (TCRCC) and began building their own narrow gauge spur line to the main tracks at Tenino, fifteen miles to the south. Initially conceived and implemented as a volunteer effort, work soon slowed to a crawl. After the project languished for a time, the TCRCC hired a Chinese labor contractor identified in records as Jimmia to complete the project. Jimmia recruited forty laborers for the task. They completed the grading of the right of way and tracklaying. Completed in 1878, historians consider the little railroad to have saved Olympia from economic oblivion and preserved its standing as the capitol.

Read more at the Olympia Historical Society website.