An early automobile drives through the Yakima River Canyon tunnel at the south entrance of the canyon. The double tunnel was cut into a solid basalt cliff. Area high school and college students enjoyed writing their names and year of graduation on the rock surfaces.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Abandoned Yakima Canyon Twin Tunnels

This photo was taken in 1922.

State Route 821 is a historic highway between Selah and Ellensburg in the state of Washington. The alignment of this portion of highway has been changed over the years and has an abandoned twin tunnel structure above a portion of the current roadway. SR 821 follows the Yakima River and is 25.2 miles long. It runs through the Yakima River Canyon. The obsolete twin tunnels and stretch of highway used to be part of old highway US 97 but was replaced in 1963 with a section of river level highway (currently SR 821). Interstate 82 has bypassed this stretch of roadway between Selah and Ellensburg. The historic highway is now called Canyon Road.

When initially constructed, the roadway was gravel. In 1932, the roadway was improved with concrete.

Imprint on the concrete roadway says " ACB INC 5 12 32"
Translation: May 12, 1932

Inside the tunnel
During the 1950's, this tunnel started to become outdated due to an increase in traffic and fruit and log trucks.

Looking out the tunnel

The "new" highway (bypass) adjacent to the Yakima River and railroad tracks. Note the old posts with the cable in place for guard rails on the upper abandoned highway.

Twin Tunnel Time Line

1921 Tunnel Construction Completed
1932 Roadway paved with concrete slabs
1934 Roadway designated Primary State Hwy No. 3 or PSH 3
1962 Tunnel changed to alternating one-way traffic with signals
1963 Highway realigned next to Yakima River and RR tracks
1963 Tunnel abandoned
1964 PSH 3 changes to US 97
1971 I-82 completed
1971 Old highway renamed SR 821

Photo below shows a widened road with stone wall forming a rest or view area at the south tunnel portal. The newer stretch of highway, railroad tracks and Yakima River are seen down below.