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One of the greatest disasters in American history is also one of Washington's little-known stories. We're in the process of organizing our museum theater program, Ghosts of the Great Hall, and this tale was one of the first that we told.
On February 23, 1910, two Great Northern trains- the Spokane Local, and the Fast Mail train – were stranded at the Wellington Depot in the midst of the worst snowstorm ever seen in the Cascade Mountains. Day after day, the fearful passengers were unable to escape the mountain despite the heroic efforts of the railroad crews to clear the tracks.
In the early morning on the seventh day, a massive avalanche roared down the mountain slope, sweeping both trains off the tracks and into the canyon below.
Of the 125 people sleeping in the cars at the time of the avalanche, 99 were killed, making the Wellington Disaster the most deadly avalanche in America – a record that still stands today.
The History Museum is fortunate to have many of those images in our collections, many of which can be found online. When we uncovered these images, we wanted to share this story.
And so we invite you to listen to our COLUMBIAKids radio program, "The White Monster of 1910," and discover the rest for yourself:
IMAGE: Two locomotives in the snow after the trains were swept down Windy Mountain at Wellington, Washington on March 1, 1910. 1943.42.17461. Washington State Historical Society Collections. To view in its entirety, click here.