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By Teresa Simpson
Free Press Publishing 

Rebel Flat Creek train trestle destroyed

Span was important in transportation of wheat from county


August 24, 2023

Roger Harnack | Free Press Publishing

Flames erupt from a single-wide trailer in the center of Winona, heating up near by propane tanks, which could be heard venting.

WINONA - The Winona Fire, which burned 2,535 acres over the weekend, completely destroyed the Rebel Flat Creek railroad trestle.

The fire broke out Friday and destroyed the trestle as it raced through dry grass and sage down a slope to the creek and railroad tracks.

After the fire had passed, only rails remained in the span over the creek.

State Department of Transportation spokeswoman Janet Matkin said Tuesday, Aug. 22, the wooden trestle bridge was about 200 feet long and and handled close to 2,000 rail cars annually.

The trestle was owned by Palouse River and Coulee Shortline Railroad, Matkin said.

"It's primarily used to move wheat from grain elevators to the mainline railroads and barges," she said, adding that shipments move nationally and internationally.

Matkin could not say how quickly the trestle could be replaced. Nor could she say how rail traffic was being adjusted as discussions were ongoing about emergency provisions.

Matkin said that the trestle carries wheat from throughout the whole of Whitman County.

"The alternative is to ship all that wheat by truck," Matkin said

Matkin said Transportation officials are working on replacing this important link in the Shortline Railroad System as quickly as physically possible.


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