File photo: Bob Harbison
UPDATE 5/20/20 - The authenticity of this letter, which was obtained via a post on Facebook, has now been questioned by American Heritage Railways. While most of the letter is accurate, the words "permanently cease operations" were apparently included either in error or maliciously. AHR is now emphasizing that the shutdown is temporary in nature. Additional details are said to be forthcoming soon.
Harper said a false news release had been issued claiming to be from American Heritage Railways that incorrectly claimed the Mt. Rainier Railroad would be permanently closed. That is not accurate, Harper said. The Mt. Rainier Railroad will resume when operationally feasible, he said.
(Original post, un-edited, may not be entirely accurate)
From American Heritage Management Re: Mt Rainier Railroad and Logging Museum
May 18, 2020
To: The partners and contractors of Mt Rainier Railroad and Logging Museum
Subject: Termination of All Operations
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen:
American Heritage Railways Inc. has decided to permanently cease operations and close Mt. Rainier Railroad for the foreseeable future. Due to the pandemic COVID-19 and the complications with the WFIM not-for profit, American Heritage Railways Inc. can no longer continue to fund MRRR. MRR and AHR management teams will immediately implement a plan to close the railroad in as orderly manner as possible. As such, we will be closing the doors and canceling all future events and train excursions for the foreseeable future, expected to remain through and beyond the end of the year.
We have contacted our staff and have begun reaching out to Business partners, groups, vendors, partners, and contractors. We will be terminating all marketing, web, advertising, and other vendor support for this location effective immediately. We are currently working on a communications plan and will be focused on messaging our current and future customers directly. Refunds for existing riders are began May 187, 2020, and the closure of all reservations online and by phone started Friday May 15, 2020.
We truly appreciate the hard work, effort, and support everyone has put into Mt. Rainier over the last three years. From John and Al Harper, “It is with great regret and sorrow that this must happen. Each one of you have done your best to make Mt. Rainier Railroad prosper and delight our customers. It just seems we could not overcome all the surmounting roadblocks.”
On behalf of Mt. Rainier Railroad, we wish you well and hope that our paths will meet again in the future.
American Heritage Management Team