Yakima Valley Trolleys - Preserving America's last intact, early 20th Century, interurban electric railroad

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General History

The Yakima Valley Trolleys operate on the tracks of the former Yakima Valley Transportation Company (YVT Co) in Yakima, Washington, U.S.A. The YVT is listed on the National Register of Historic Places because it is the last authentic, all-original, turn-of-the-century interurban electric railroad in the United States. The degree to which the complete YVT system has been preserved is unsurpassed.

The railroad was constructed between 1907 and 1913. Its greatest length was just over 44 miles. Presently approximately five miles of track remain, connecting the cities of Yakima and Selah, Washington. Electric trains have operated on the YVT trackage every year since 1907.

Service was first limited to a streetcar line in downtown Yakima. In 1909 the YVT was purchased by the Union Pacific Railroad with the purpose of expanding the system as a feeder of freight and produce to the Union Pacific mainline.

The YVT built a large stone and timber carbarn/shop facility in 1910. In 1911 a concrete and masonry powerhouse substation was constructed to provide the necessary DC electricity to operate the trolleys. Both buildings are still in use today. The overhead wire catenary is also original.

Streetcar service became less and less popular as more Americans were able to purchase automobiles. Finally in February of 1947 the YVT terminated streetcar service, however the electric freight trains continued to operate.

In 1974 the City of Yakima purchased two streetcars from Portugal to revive passenger service as a tourist operation. The project also served as Yakima’s Bicentennial project in 1976.

The Union Pacific Railroad decided to abandon the Yakima Valley Transportation Company freight operations in 1985. Almost all of the system was donated to the City of Yakima in the process, and has been open as a museum since that time.

The Yakima Valley Trolleys organization was incorporated in 2001 to operate the railroad for the City of Yakima. Present and future generations are able to experience an early-American street railway almost exactly as it was 100 years ago and come to understand the important role transit held in developing the City of Yakima as well as the rest of the industrialized world.