Hidden Tunnel at Greenwood Cemetery

Would you believe there's a tunnel that runs through the cemetery grounds at Greenwood Memorial Terrace? It's true. The 1889 plat for the cemetery indicates a proposed railroad terminal in the middle of the western perimeter. Originally, the hope was for the Seattle, Lake Shore & Eastern Railway line to cross the Spokane River near where Riverside Memorial Park lies and go through Greenwood, where a terminal was to be built, and continue north then west toward the Cascade Mountains. The SLS & ERR was grossly underfunded, however, and the dreams for a terminus at Greenwood never transpired even after the Northern Pacific Railway purchased it in 1900.

But that didn't stop the Great Northern Railroad from continuing its competition with Northern Pacific. Great Northern built the tunnel so its main line could connect with the Spokane, Portland & Seattle road. In February 1909 work began at both the north and south ends of the tunnel. Workers from both sides met within 1.84 inches of the same spot to join in the middle. It took the contractor, Porter Brothers & Welch, just 13 months to complete, and the tunnel was opened for business on April 1, 1910.

So, where is the tunnel? Technically, it still runs through the second terrace, called the Bench, and under the top terrace. However, in preparation for the 1974 World Exposition, the City of Spokane revitalized the city center where the main railroad hub was, forcing the rerouting of several rail lines, including the line through Greenwood. In exchange for removing the tracks and permanently sealing the railroad tunnel, Greenwood Memorial Terrace ceded an easement from its western boundary for a new rail line that now by-passes the cemetery.

Despite a few rumors over the years about buried train cars and the like, the tunnel contains no buried treasures. Since it's sealing, vegetation has grown over any evidence of the rail tunnel's existence.


Hidden Tunnel in Greenwood Memorial Terrace
Creator: Julie Y. Russell
View File Record