ILWACO - For nearly 40 years, the quirky little narrow-gauge railroad, begun in 1889 by the Ilwaco Railway and Navigation Company, ran along the North Beach (now usually Long Beach) Peninsula. The train provided the primary transportation link from Ilwaco in the south to Nahcotta in the north, making Peninsula communities accessible to one another and supplying a reliable route to outside markets for the area's major industries - oystering, logging, and cranberry farming.
A tide table, not a timetable, governed the railroad's schedule, allowing coordination with the steamers that met the train at either end of its daily journeys. Old timers still speak affectionately of the train's unorthodox schedule and its informal and accommodating service. And they remember with fondness that the I.R.&N. was widely known as the "Irregular, Ramblin' and Never-get-there Railroad."
Arcadia publishing has just released "North Beach Peninsula's I.R.&N." - a collaboration by author/historian Sydney Stevens and the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum. Stevens, a fourth generation resident of Oysterville, has written extensively about this area. Her carefully researched text adds rich detail and documentation to the stunning images the museum has gather from their own photographic archives and from community sources.
Join Stevens for a book signing and reading at 1 p.m. on Saturday, July 18, and Sunday, July 19, during the museum's annual Clamshell Railroad Days, 115 SE Lake Street in Ilwaco.
For more information call 642-3446 or visit (columbiapacificheritagemuseum.org).