6 votes

Penstock Bridge


Old Wenatchee Bridge

March 25, 2008

Photo taken by Michael Goff in March 2008


BH Photo #117478


Used in 1907-8 to carry a temporary railroad track on the west shore of the river for dam construction purposes. In 1909 when the dam was completed it was then used to carry the penstock across the river to the powerhouse. The powerhouse contained three 25 cycle ac generators, and a one million gallon surge tank outside. In 1927 with the New Cascade, Winton, Swede, and Chumstick tunnels and new right of way nearing completion, the railway decided to expand electric service from Skykomish to Wenatchee. In each town there was a substation and frequency converter building to change the 60 cycles ac from the local power grid to 25 cycles ac. The system also had regenerative braking power return capabilities. Operation continued until 1956 when the Cascade Tunnel fan house was completed allowing diesel locomotive usage. The hydroelectric project was then purchased by the Chelan County Public Utility District and dismantled. The dam, penstock bridge and other foundations are all that remain today.


Through truss bridge over Wenatchee River on Abandoned pipeline for railroad works
Chelan County, Washington
Open to pedestrians
Built 1907
- Great Northern Railway (GN)
Through truss
Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on July 16, 1982
Also called
Great Northern Railway Penstock Bridge
Approximate latitude, longitude
+47.58792, -120.70913   (decimal degrees)
47°35'16" N, 120°42'33" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
10/672240/5273043 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Inventory numbers
NRHP 82004196 (National Register of Historic Places reference number)
BH 36869 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • July 15, 2020: New photos from Patrick Gurwell
  • December 15, 2014: Photo imported by Dave King
  • November 30, 2012: Updated by Neil Martel: Corrected description to clarify "initial" use of bridge
  • April 8, 2012: Updated by Neil Martel: Fixed typo in description
  • April 7, 2012: Updated by Neil Martel: Corrected description
  • July 16, 2008: Updated by Michael Goff
  • July 15, 2008: Added by Michael Goff


  • Mike Goff - michael [dot] goff [at] hotmail [dot] com
  • Neil Martel
  • Patrick Gurwell - pgurwell [at] gmail [dot] com


Wenatchee River Bridge
Posted May 31, 2011, by Michael Goff (michael [dot] goff [at] odot [dot] state [dot] or [dot] us)


Thanks for the information on this structure. I was visiting Leavenworth and came across this structure while exploring the canyon. I have always wanted to know more about it but never found the time to properly research it.

Thanks for the update, I have modified the overview.


Wenatchee River Bridge
Posted May 30, 2011, by Mac McCulloch (pnwrmnm [at] yahoo [dot] com)

The way your note is worded implies that this bridge carried railroad traffic. The bridge was part of the Great Northern's electrification of Old Cascade Tunnel and it carried the wate line from behind the dam upstream to the powerhouse that was located on the flat spot immediately downstream of the bridge and between the river and the highhway. When the complex was built the main track of the GN was located where the highway is now. Shortly after the railroad relocated through the Chumstick Canyon the state turned the railroad road bed through Tumwater Canyon into the highway.

A railfan who grew up in Wenatchee and is old enough to have seen the powerhouse.