Friday, August 08, 2008


I interrupt our death-march through the Voter's Guide (up next! Attorney General!) to sadly report that the the Internet, it has failed me.

This weekend, and for the next two weekends, southbound 405 will be completely shut down as they demolish the Wilburton Tunnel.

I know what you're thinking - 405 has a tunnel? Well, its more of a train overpass for the the old Burlington Northern/Santa Fe line which hugs the eastern edge of Lake Washington, crosses the highway over this bunkerish tunnel, then passes underneath the northbound lane, then flies across a valley on the Wilburton Trestle, a beautiful, almost model-railroad sort of bridge.

But I can't find out when the Wilburton Tunnel was built, from sources on the net, nor much about the history of this vital artery. I THINK the original 405 passed through the Wilburton tunnel both ways, then the northbound lane was added later, but I can't find out when this happened.

I CAN find out that the Wilburton Trestle was first built to cross an arm of Lake Washington over a hundred years ago, a reminder that the lake was once eight feet higher before the ship canal was punched through, and that the land my office stands on was once underwater.

But on the tunnel itself? Nothing on the net other than numerous reminders that no one should head south out of Bellevue for the rest of August. And nothing about who Wilburton was in the first place.

The edge of the Internet. I have found it at last.

More later,

Update: The net may fail, but netizens are always on alert. In this case Stan! came through with some bits a pieces. this article says the tunnel is 36 years old, which puts its construction in 1972 (the closest I found was a Bellevue history site that only alluded to the idea that I-405 started to "take shape" in 1962).

Stan! also found that the Wilberton trestle and tunnel shared a name with a lumber mill, and that trestle, tunnel, mill and surrounding community took the name from the Wilbur and England logging camp, a boomtown established in 1900. The mill closed in 1918 in part due to the fact that Lake Washington had receded.

Thanks, Stan!