Chelatchie Prairie Railroad to host upcoming diesel train rides


The Chelatchie Prairie Railroad will once again hold its September diesel train ride on Sept. 10 and Sept. 11.

Railroad President Randy Williams said the ride will take passengers along the organization’s 12-mile track. 

“(It’s) a beautiful ride through the woods,” Williams said. “Our railroad is mostly ruled with an old logging railroad, and the ride is about two hours with a 30-miniute stop at Yacolt Falls, where they can get out and walk down to the waterfall.  If it’s real warm, they may even want to get in the water.”

Williams said he worked in architectural design and became involved with the railroad after he went on a train ride on Mother’s Day weekend with his family 15 years ago. 

“If you want to have a more demanding role, you can take the training to be a brakeman or a conductor, and to take the test for that license, so I am a brakeman and conductor,” he said. “And during Christmas time, I have a big, red velvet suit. I become the railroad Santa.”

 Since it’s fire hazard season, Williams said he also does fire patrol with a personal railcar. 

“Sometimes the train can accidentally start a fire sparked from the brakes or a spark at the stack,” he said. 

Williams noted the railroad is beautiful. He enjoys sharing the relaxing experience with those who ride the train. 

“The train goes less than 10 miles per hour through the forest, so there’s lots to see, (like) birds or flowers, depending on the time of year,” he said. 

For the September diesel train ride, he said one railroad cart is open and the other is enclosed. If they have enough volunteer staffing, he said they will be able to ride in a caboose as well. 

The October event, the “Fall Leaf Special,” is a special trip because “everything is starting to turn, autumn is upon us, and that’s a really nice time to go out,” Williams said. 

On the third weekend in July and third weekend in August, Wiliams said the railroad has mock train robberies, where actors “come out, stop the train, and do a little robbery skit.” On the Saturday after Thanksgiving, they will also have Christmas trains, where kids can ride on the train and take a picture with Santa. 

Chelatchie’s corporate treasurer, station master, and crew scheduler Doug Auburg said the volunteers maintain the tracks and trains. Auburg noted they are always looking for additional volunteers. 

“Our people do all the work. We do the work on the track. We do the work to repair the locomotives and rolling stock, and we staff the train when we’re running,” he said. 

He said all volunteers are extensively trained for the roles they adopt. 

The September diesel train ride will run from noon to 2:30 p.m. on both days. It costs $18 for adults, $17 for seniors and military, $12 for children 3-12 years old, and is free for children under 3. The station is located at 207 N. Railroad Ave. in Yacolt. 

For tickets and more information, go to