Stampede Pass Diary

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Fallbridge Sub MP 118.6
MOW still out there today. A Dog-Catch crew rolled this string E/B out of Ellensburg about 15:20 this afternoon. Their track warrant was good to MP-107. I think the track gang was at about MP 110. MOW were clearing up, starting about 14:00. About the time these motors started pulling, another E/B was rolling-up at West Bristol.

M-T Oil Cans at Ellensburg-3.jpg
Hey guys, I know this is kinda late but I am wondering if you would know more information about what happens on the stampede sub and Yakima Valley subdivisions. I have a few questions. I would like to know what cargo is hauled through here and how many trains we normally see a day here. In the past I've seen BNSF carry empty grainers, coal drags, tankers, and occasionally a long string of flatbeds normally 115 cars long with about 3 locomotives. Although, last Friday a 6 locomotive consist went through Yakima at about 6:30 P.M. with an ex BN gp 50 and 5 9-44cw BNSF locos. It was also about a 60 car manifest that I've never seen before it was all kinds of cars. Was that a one time thing or is that common? I also know there is two SD40-2's that run out of Yakima and Pasco on Tues and Thurs. There is a shortline that runs CBRW though Yakima weekdays and leaves the Yakima Yard to Moxee at about 2:30-3 on weekdays when they need to haul certain materials. I just want to know if you could recommend something so I can catch these trains more frequently. Can I listen on a scanner or does the Stampede Sub/Yakima Valley Sub have a schedule? I don't know I wish to know more in the future! I live in Yakima and want to meet with these trains more frequently but just don't know where they're coming. If you could answer any of my questions that would be so helpful!

Thanks for your time, Dave
Dave, most of the traffic on these subs is Eastbound empty grain. There are some empty coal and some empty oil thrown in there. A few times there have been the odd baretable train roaming around, and once a loaded military train. Seen a few ballast trains heading westbound against the flow for track maintenance.

The manifests on the line is a new thing, and I'm not sure how long they will continue doing it. The problem is that no excess height cars can run Stampede due to the tunnel, so whatever manifests come through have to be all normal-height cars. Over the last weeks there have been a number of manifests that have rolled through, most of which I've missed. Total trains for the day is typically 7-9, all EB unless there is track work.

Scanner for the Stampede sub (and some of Yakima Valley Sub) is online here: You can catch traffic by yourself with a scanner set to 161.250. I'm not sure what the CBRW operates on, but I won't be able to hear it since I'm up in Ellensburg. There is no set schedule for these subs. There are trains that come through around the same time every day, but it's not set in stone.

There are two SD40-2's that leave Yakima for Ellensburg every Tuesday and Thursday. Depends on the day, but they are usually here in Ellensburg around 7-8 in the morning. I usually miss them because of work, but I can hear their horns. Yakima should be getting a train from Pasco nearly every day of the week to interchange with the CBRW there. One of these days I'd love to catch some of CBRW's operations down there. Not sure I feel safe around that area of town though.

Thanks Kevin I appreciate it! I needed that link to the railradio that will be a big help! And I've chased the CBRW multiple times in that area. Normally leaves the yakima yard about 2:30-3ish on weekdays hauling 3-20 cars heading WB before taking the spur out to Moxee or Fruitvale. If you enter that part of town in this time of day its normally fine or it has been for me but, later in the day is when you'll want to get out of there. Anyways thanks for your help and I hope you can catch some CBRW action soon!

Thanks, Dave
There are persistent rumors about the Stampede Tunnel. Does anyone know what and when BNSF intends to enlarge it, and fully ctc the Yakima Valley and Stampede Subs? The track improvements between Seattle and Auburn certainly suggest that they've plans for this thing. Meantime, usual mix of empties and occasional manifests seems to prevail. Often they seem to hold at Pomona Siding for a while. Maybe waiting for a slot to get past Lakesde Sub or Pasco yards?
I haven't heard anything about Stampede Tunnel, but the change in variety of trains has been very welcome. There have been a lot more manifests than what I was expecting. Seems like almost one a day. Also had a couple of military trains roll through last week....first train was nearly all Stykers and the second train the next day was all the support vehicles. I believe they unloaded at Pomona.
There are persistent rumors about the Stampede Tunnel. Does anyone know what and when BNSF intends to enlarge it, and fully ctc the Yakima Valley and Stampede Subs?
How much improvement to the track and signals of the Yakima Sub is necessary? Both must have been good at one time as the Northern Pacific ran the North Coast Limited (one of the fastest transcontinental trains in the US at the time), the Mainstreeter, and numbered (600 series) freights over the subdivision. Did BN/BNSF downgrade the track and signals when Stampede Pass was closed after the BN merger and fail to keep up maintenance when the pass was reopened in the 90's?
The track structure did deteriorate when the pass was shut down, and the Washington Central couldn't really afford to maintain the Yakima Valley sub. When BNSf reopened the line, there was a fairly complete overhaul of the structure between SP&S Junction at Kennewick and Auburn. For whatever reason, they elected not to do anything abut the tunnel size at that time, although fairly extensive repairs and lighting were done. The old NP signals were removed -- likely couldn't be brought up to FRA requirements -- and isolated CTC areas installed. As for the current maintenance, they are doing a good job and are not letting the thing deteriorate by any means. I understand there is going to be some sort of track work on the Stampede sub in the next month or so. So the question remains: when and what for the tunnel, and when and what for full CTC? Will Amtrak be ever rerouted back to Stampede, or something like Cascades service be initiated? Who knows. Maybe Warren Buffet... Meanwhile, these subs just carry on with the usual mix of empties going east every day, with an occasional manifest thrown in just for giggles, I suppose. In the larger picture, these subs remain a critical part of BNSF, and essential for system fluidity. Although all of us would like to see upgrades in traffic and maybe passenger service, BNSF hasn't dropped any hints about it. I also can't see them happily sharing with Uncle Pete, either. Another part of the picture is not these two subs themselves; there are only so many time slots on the Lakeside sub, and until more double tracking or some sort of directional arrangements are made with UP between Spokane and Pasco to handle the ever growing traffic, it may be difficult to send much more over either the Fallbridge or Stampede/Yakima Valley subs.
.... until more double tracking or some sort of directional arrangements are made with UP between Spokane and Pasco to handle the ever growing traffic, it may be difficult to send much more over either the Fallbridge or Stampede/Yakima Valley subs.
Too bad BN was so quick to abandon the old SP&S mainline between Spokane and Pasco.
today there were no empty wells at Bristol -- first time in a long time I've seen it without stored equipment.
Also noted an oiler leaving Pomona; east bound as one would expect.
Wonder if they'll ever start running west, too.
I'm wondering if anyone has any updates on the Stampede Pass rail line? (I guess they call it a sub?)

I live in Maple Valley just north of the line. Used to hear the train a lot when I first moved here 6 years ago. Haven't heard it much lately. Either it's not getting used, or perhaps I'm just used to the sound by now.

Always enjoy the updates here though.

Bill Anderson

Well-Known Member
As one leg of BNSF's "Iron Triangle", doesn't Stampede Pass see only eastbounds while westbounds out of the Tri Cities travel down the Columbia River Gorge line on the Fallbridge Sub?
Everything I glimpse in Auburn suggests it's very busy, virtually all eastbounds. Mostly empties but I think maybe there's a general manifest train as well.
I figured as much that the sub was still as active as ever. They say that after one lives by the tracks long enough, you eventually tune out the trains. I'm not right close to the tracks (about half a mile away) but I sure don't notice the trains anymore.

I grew up in Whitefish, Montana, home of a major BNSF railyard. Always heard whistles and the sound of the crew breaking trains. Familiar sounds.


Fallbridge Sub MP 118.6
You can monitor the trains' movements by listening to the Stampede Pass feeds at RailRoad Radio. There is a west side and an east side feed. The west side feed's receiver is located high up in the Cascades, so it is able to pick up quite a bit of BNSF traffic, mostly on the west side. Depending on the atmospheric conditions, it can also pick up many of the east side's radio traffic.

The E/B's generally will run in packs, depending on MOW work. When the E/Bs are moving, it is not unusual to have several working their way across the subdivision about 1 to 1-1/2 hours apart via track warrants. There can be 10 to 12 movements over 24 hour period on the busy days. Usually, there are 3 to 4 trains per group. Occasional manifests are becoming more common.

BNSF Stampede Pass - West Side

BNSF Stampede Pass - East Side
At the risk of a wave of speculation, does anyone know if BNSF as current plans to enlarge the tunnel and/or resume bi directional operations on the hill? I do notice that Bristol has remained free of stored wells for some months now.
Given the amount of white stuff in the Cascades, I can't help but wonder if BNSF is actually running over Stampede and Stevens, and if they've broken down and are running rotaries. 53" in last couple of days at Snoqualmie (near Stampede). is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to - An online railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used railroad books. Railroad pictorials, railroad history, steam locomotives, passenger trains, modern railroading. Hundreds of titles available, most at discount prices! We also have a video and children's book section. - An online model railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used books. Layout design, track plans, scenery and structure building, wiring, DCC, Tinplate, Toy Trains, Price Guides and more.