Dungeness River Festival Marks Railroad Bridge Centennial

Published on September 15, 2015 under Blog
Dungeness River Festival Marks Railroad Bridge Centennial

This community festival celebrates the natural and cultural resources of the Dungeness River and the 100th anniversary of the iconic railroad bridge

Sequim, Wash., September 15, 2015 – “This year’s River Festival offers a unique opportunity to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the bridge, watch salmon spawning within sight of the trestle replacement work, and enjoy the exhibits and activities,” says Powell Jones, Executive Director of the Dungeness River Audubon Center. The Festival, which opens Friday, September 25, will feature music, dance, model trains, nature walks, presentations, and more. The free Festival runs from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday (September 25-26) in Railroad Bridge Park, 2151 W. Hendrickson Road, in Sequim. In conjunction with the Festival, the Olympic Driftwood Sculptors will hold its fall art show on Saturday and Sunday (September 26-27) in the River Center.

The Jamestown S’Klallam drummers and singers will open the Railroad Bridge anniversary festivities on Saturday afternoon with a traditional welcome ceremony and dance at 1:30. “The celebration will continue at 2:00 p.m. at the River Stage, where we will unveil a plaque commemorating the placement of the Bridge on the National Register of Historic Places, and celebrate the latest incarnation of this community treasure, as a vital link in the Olympic Discovery Trail,” says Lyn Muench, chair of the 100th Anniversary Committee. The anniversary party will conclude with a railroading singalong led by Brian Grad and light refreshments.

The Milwaukee Road built the Dungeness Railroad Bridge in the summer of 1915. During the Festival, attractions on the bridge include a 25-foot long assessor’s map showing the Milwaukee Road right-of-way in 1913. “The bridge is also the perfect viewing platform for seeing both the salmon and the massive trestle construction project,” says Muench. She adds that the 100th Anniversary Committee of local railroad enthusiasts, historians, trail and park users, and the River Center partners produced the new ‘Bridges, Trestles, Rails and Trails’ brochure, which is available at visitor centers in Sequim, Port Angeles, Forks, and Port Townsend. Other commemorative items include “Railroad Bridge Wine” from Wind Rose Cellars in Sequim and Dungeness Bridge patches and pins. The anniversary patches and pins are available in the River Center gift shop and will be for sale during the Festival.

Students and music will fill Railroad Bridge Park Friday morning. The Five Acre School marimba band, the Sound Waves, will perform at 10:30 a.m. and again at 12:15 p.m. Bob Boekelheide will lead a River and Salmon Walk at 11:00 a.m. And, at 2:30 p.m. in the Center, engineer and history buff Ken Wiersema will present “How They Built the Bridge” followed by a walk up to the bridge.

Saturday morning, students from Aspire Dance Academy will perform on the River Stage at 11:00 a.m. Bob Boekelheide will again lead a River/Salmon walk at noon, and at 1:00 p.m. the Klahhane Hiking Club 100th anniversary presentation will take place in the Center.

On both Friday and Saturday, local, state, federal, tribal, and non-profit entities active on the north Olympic Peninsula will offer interactive nature exhibits and activities, as well as exhibits that demonstrate energy efficiency, water conservation and clean air. Come make a fish print on your T-shirt, walk through a septic system, learn how worms breathe, even hold a giant geoduck clam. Also, Festival goers can try their skills at ‘Animal Olympics’ when they mimic a specific animal. For example, they can ‘Jump like a Frog’ or ‘Creep like a Crab.’

The River Center and its partners, the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe and the Olympic Peninsula Audubon Society sponsor the annual Dungeness River Festival. The Center’s mission is to inspire understanding, enjoyment and stewardship of the Olympic Peninsula’s unique natural and cultural resources, with emphasis on birds, rivers, fish, and people…the essence of the River Festival.

On Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., the Olympic Driftwood Sculptors will hold their 7th anniversary show in the River Center. Area artisans have turned wood found on beaches and in forests into amazing art. The River Festival provides many opportunities to enjoy the fall bounty of the Olympic Peninsula, and Railroad Bridge Park offers the best public access to the Dungeness River and Olympic Discovery Trail.

Visit the River Center web site for a complete Festival schedule at or contact the Dungeness River Audubon Center at 681-4076.