As many know, I am a die hard Northern Pacific Railroad fan. One of my favorite locations on the NP mainline was Lester Washington. Part 1: A little history Lester is a long gone ghost town, that the city of Tacoma destroyed, so they could have their own watershed, fed by the snow melt from the Stampede Pass into the Green River. In 2004, I attended the NMRA convention in Seattle, and one of the extra fare tours was a train ride from Seattle's Kiing Street Station, through the Stampede Tunnel, and to a BBQ in Cle Elum WA. It was the most beautiful train ride I had ever taken. The scenery was full of pine trees, mountians, rivers, bridges, tunnels, and... A Ghost Town. Really just 2 or 3 abandon small structures, a patch of gravel, and some tracks, reclaimed by the forest. Lester was founded in 1891 as a railroad stop on the western side of Stampede Pass. Lester actually had a population of over 1000 people at one time, it was a railroad town. It's reason for being was to break up trains and add helper locomotives, to get them over the Stampede Pass. Being the last mountain pass between Montana and Seattle, and on the NP mainline, there was lots of rail traffic, and one long dirt road that closed in the winter due to snow. To keep the mainline open in the winter, Rotary Snowplow #10 was often used over the pass, and could often be found ready, on a track on the west side of the Lester depot. Lester had a coal dock, water tower, 2 story depot, roundhouse, machine shop, a section house for snow fighting crews, and lots of other railroad structures. Somewhere between 1956 and 1957 the coal dock was removed, and a large steel Diesel fuel tank installed. There were several crews assigned to their own locomotives, and they had their own stalls in the roundhouse. In the 1940's Diesels started replacing steam locos. Helper crews were starting running out of Yakima and Auburn, and Lester was not as important then, so many people moved out. The Northern Pacific did a good job holding Tacoma at bay for decades, but with the creation of the Burlington Northern, and it's access over Stevens Pass, the Stampede Pass was no longer as important, and neither was Lester. Tacoma bought almost everyone out, and over the next several years tore down the town. The last resident left in 2002, and the town site is now a publicly inaccessible part of the Green River watershed.