Road Trip to Glacier Days 1-3: Leavenworth Washington

Visit Dates: July 8-10, 2021

After being stymied on my train hunt in the Columbia Gorge, we headed up to Leavenworth, Washington. Carla had been here twice before: once with her Bunco group and once with her sisters. She loves the little tourist town; for myself, I was hoping for plenty of train action on what I supposed to be the BNSF mailine from Seattle to Chicago. We’ll see.

Leavenworth is nestled on the eastern slope of the Washington Cascades mountain range. Here is an image from Google Maps. You can see the flat-ish farm land starting just east of the Columbia River.

Leavenworth, Washington – Google Maps.

Here is a nice history of Leavenworth; it started its life as a trading post and flourished with the Great Northern Railroad and timber industry. Eventually – I read today with a feeling of consternation – the railroad changed its route to avoid stoppage due to snow. Facing hard times, the city decided to capitalize on the Cascade range backdrop to transform into a Bavarian-like city. They didn’t do it by half measures.

Leavenworth, Washington

You can see the dramatic background in this photo looking down the main street.

Looking southwest from Front Street in Leavenworth, Washington

Since Carla’s last visit, the city has closed off Front Street to vehicles making it much easier to get around. Virtually all the storefronts are Bavarian-inspired. We arrived in the evening and went to Cafe Mozart where we were lucky to get a table on the second floor balcony which afforded a wonderful view of the city and surroundings.

Downtown Leavenworth, Washington
Downtown Leavenworth, Washington

We headed back to our hotel – the Pension Anna – at the end of the evening.

Pension Anna. Leavenworth, Washington

A Pension Hotel is essentially a large Bed and Breakfast. Reading the definitions, it sounds as though in Europe they offer few amenities, but you couldn’t tell that to us. The room as great and the morning breakfast was superb. We loved the boiled eggs cooked to order: soft, medium, or hard. They are served in little egg cups with the top gently cracked. We used are little spoons to dig in. Very elegant.

After a morning walk along the Wenatchee River bank Carla headed downtown and I forged ahead with my plan to get some train pictures. I fetched up to Icicle Station just a few blocks northeast of town.

Icicle Station. Leavenworth, Washington

The Seattle section of the Empire Builder stops here each day. The eastbound train goes on to Spokane, Washington to connect with the Portland section and head to Chicago. We rode that train a few years ago.

Like the day before in the Columbia Gorge I looked long and hard for a train.

No trains.

It was a hot day – mid 90°s – but I stuck it out for a bit. I smelled something foul and looked down the track and saw the carcass of a coyote that had been hit by a train. It wasn’t pretty and I’ll save you from a picture (I didn’t take one). After about an hour I got this hint that – like the day before – track maintenance had most activity shut down.

High railer meant little or now train activity for the day.

Shut out for two days in a row! I’m confused about the level of rail traffic in Leavenworth. The history of the town says the railroad changed its route, but all the rail network maps I looked at shows Leavenworth. I guess I’ll have to come back for a second look. After finishing my thermos of water, I packed up and headed back to meet Carla.

We had another wonderful dinner (schnitzel again) serenaded by an accordion player.

My favorite part of our stay was our morning walks along the Wenatchee River which runs just east of downtown – a hundred yards or so from our hotel.

Wenatchee River winding its way on the east side of Leavenworth, Washington

Most of the river ran fast, but there were some calm areas with crystal clear water.

Wenatchee River in Leavenworth, Washington

We had a fun few days but Saturday morning it was time to hit the road for our next stop of Couer d’Alene, Idaho. But first, one last look at the river.

Wenatchee River in Leavenworth, Washington

Although there were no trains, we had a great time. I’d definitely go back. I bet it is beautiful in the late Fall with snow in the Cascades.

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