Milwaukee Road Bunkhouse (aka Iron Horse Inn) Damaged by Fire
The Iron Horse Inn in South Cle Elum was heavily damaged by a fire on November 4th. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1989 as the Milwaukee Road Bunkhouse, the building was built in 1909 for railroad crews and was thought to be one of the few remaining examples of this property type left in the state. After listing, the bunkhouse was purchased, preserved, and was operated as the Iron Horse Inn bed & breakfast for many years by Cle Elum preservationist Mary Pittis and her family. The Iron Horse was a popular place to stay and noted for its hearty breakfasts, caboose lodging, and Milwaukee Road memoribilia throughout the building. It also served as an anchor to the nearby South Cle Elum Railroad Yard Historic District, also listed in the National Register and owned by Washington State Parks and operated as part of the Palouse to Cascades Trail State Park, formerly named Iron Horse State Park. The Washington State Park property includes the restored South Cle Elum Depot, archaeological remnants of the railroad yard, and the massive brick substation that generated power to operate Milwaukee Road trainsets on its line between Chicago and Seattle. Converted from the Milwaukee Road railroad right-of-way, the Palouse to Cascades Trail bisects the historic district. The Cascades Rail Foundation helps maintain and interpret the historic property including a museum in the depot and an interpretive trail through the former rail yard.
Fortunately, there was no loss of life or injuries as a result of the late-night fire. However, current owners Matt and Leanne Martinson lost many personal possesions and the building is thought to be a total loss having destroyed the roof and second floor. A GoFundMe account has been established by family and friends to help the Martinsons recover from their loss. For photographs and more information visit this Cascade Rail Foundation link: https://www.milwelectric.org/fire-at-the-iron-horse-bb/.