On Saturday, March 4, 2017, the Clark County Historical Museum opened its newest exhibition All Aboard!: Clark County Rides the Rails, which retraces the development of railroads in Clark County.
Railroads nearly didn’t happen in Clark County. In the 1850s the territorial governor, heading a survey for a railroad route, found the north bank of the Columbia River a near-impossible barrier for rails heading east. County cities debated over the location of a rail bridge over the river. Small railway companies came and went. The economic depression of the 1890s put the street cars of Clark County out of business, never mind attempts at larger rail systems, and the disastrous Yacolt fires tabled any plans for developments in transportation in Clark County. All changed with the birth of the Spokane, Portland, and Seattle Railway (SP&S), which transported Clark County goods across the Northwest, eventually making its way south into California, and ended its long career in the 1970s merging with several other small rail systems to become the Burlington Northern.
From the first dream in the 1860s of rails linking the Columbia River and Puget Sound to the birth and storied history the SP&S Railway (Spokane, Portland & Seattle), All Aboard engages visitors with the triumphs and trials and personalities and conflicts of those determined to create the Northwest’s own railway.