Wellington depot before the avalanche. The Wellington avalanche, February, 1910,
was the worst avalanche, measured in terms of lives lost, in the history of the United States.
Seattle Times article on the avalanche.

Video about the avalanche - Seattle Times

by Allan Hirsch © 1999
Sung by Allan Hirsch

CD available at CDBaby.com

'Twas near the town of Wellington,  west of the tunnel gate,
the snow was piled up so high, the plowman working late.
Two trains a heading west had to stop along the track.
Snow drifts of thirty feet, had the crewman busting backs.

For five long days and nights, the passengers did wait.
Card games were played and tales were told, until the hour was late
They wrote down hopes and fears in their personal diaries.
With so much time to kill, they were doing as they pleased.

(Chorus)  Stranded on a train in the Cascade Mountains high.
Wondering if they’d live, fearful that they’d die
Some took the chance and walked off, into a nearby town.
The others stayed on the train, and the snow kept falling down.

The conductor left the train and walked off into town.
Taking with him five brave souls tired of sitting ‘round.
He came back to take care of things, and to try and get some rest
The Passengers who waited, they thought he was the best.

Just about a mile away, Joe Pettit heard the sound
Bright lightning and black thunder rumbling all around
He couldn’t sleep, so out he went into the stormy night.
He saw Windy Mountain move light by lightning bright.  (Chorus)

Down came the avalanche, a whole mountain side of snow.
Tons and tons hit the trains, how much we’ll never know.
All the cars were thrown down into the Tye canyon deep.
Train cars were crushed and thrown more than a thousand feet.

The town of Wellington sent their rescue crews so fast.
They worked not by lanterns but by the lightning flash.
They dug through the snow for the unlucky ninety six.
and all those train cars were crushed like little sticks.   (Chorus)

In the land of Uncle Sam, this was the worst catastrophe.
No avalanche as bad as this in our great history
They changed the name of the town on the Great Northern Line.
To erase the shame of losing all those people mighty fine.

'Twas in the year of 1910, this story came to pass.
In the north cascades today, the snow still falls deep and fast.
Sometimes it piles up so high, no cars or trains get through,
If I was stuck inside that train, I wonder what I’d do.   (Chorus)

Debris field of wrecked trains and downed trees following the avalanche

A Wellington avalanche site
Blog of Martin Burwash, author of 'Vis Major'
Chronology of the disaster, from Gary Krist's book "The White Cascade" (Henry Holt, 2007)
A state Historical Society link for schoolchildren (PDF)

Pacific Nothwest Folklore Society