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Wellington, WA was established in 1893 by the Great Northern Pacific Railroad as small unincorporated town for the railroad workers and their families. Wellington was located about three miles west of the Stevens Pass Summit and just off the old Stevens Pass Highway. Due to the negative connotation of the original name after the 1910 train disaster, the Great Northern Railroad changed Wellington's name to Tye in 1913. The town's new name was derived from the nearby Tye Creek. The town of Tye was abandoned in 1929 when the old railroad grade route was abandoned and a new grade route was developed and came into use. The new railroad grade route, including the new Cascade Tunnel, is still in use by the Burlington Northern Sante Fe Railroad today. The old grade route was turned into a hiking trail named the Iron Goat Trail that winds about seven miles through the forest from the trailhead at Highway 2 to the original town site of Wellington. The name Iron Goat was taken from the Great Northern Railway corporate symbol of a mountain goat standing on a rock. "Iron goat" was applied to Great Northern locomotives climbing mountainous rail line in the Rockies or Cascade mountains. Wellington Elementary School located in the Northshore School District of Seattle, WA. was named after the town of Wellington.
The Wellington train disaster of March 1, 1910 is still the worst avalanche, measured in terms of lives lost, in the history of the United States. The unofficial number of lost lives was set at 96. Unfortunately, no one will ever know the actual number of victims that may well have exceeded 96. Of the 96 men, women and children killed, 35 were passengers, 58 were Great Northern employees on the trains, and 3 were railroad employees asleep in their bunkhouses. 23 passengers did somehow survive as they're broken bodies were pulled from the wreckage by railroad employees living at Wellington. Due to the unsafe and extreme weather conditions, rescue efforts were abandoned. It was late July, before it was possible to retrieve the last of the bodies. The last body recovered was that of Archibald McDonald, a 23 year old brakeman lay trapped under piles of splintered timbers.