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For years area residents debated and argued about the existence of “the train in the lake.” There were no reported eyewitnesses of the actual event. However, a number of people claimed to have swam to it, including Bill Hawkins, long time resident and the first mayor of Lake Stevens, who claims that he “rang its bell.” It was reportedly seen from flying overhead and from boating over it. On the other side of the coin, many who looked in the area later found nothing – not while swimming nor while fishing.

There are several versions of what happened: a brake slipped, was improperly set, or the pressure on the wheels caused the rails to loosen and spread and when the spread became too great the engine dropped into the water.


This “small” engine weighed between 35 and 50 tons and in the early 1900’s there was no way to lift something that size from the lake.

In 1984 the Innerspace Diving Team, a non profit corporation, spent a day searching the cove and thought they found the locomotive, but could not get permission to disturb the lake bottom to make a positive identification.


This copy of a postcard shows a locomotive on the Rucker Mill spur railroad trestle which extended 1,000 feet out into the cove. It could possibly be the “Aurora,” built by the Danforth Locomotive and Machine Co, Nov 25, 1872, and sold to the Rucker brothers in 1903. This Locomotive is similar to, if not the actual one at the bottom of the lake.

Eleven years later, Navy SEAL and Chief Warrant Officer Dan Nohrden, a lake resident, contacted then-president Gayle Whitsell about the possibility of using a training exercise to search for the train.

On July 15, 1995 identification was provided by this Navy SEAL team who searched the cove bottom, and in 40 minutes located the locomotive, as well as provided a sonar picture.

Dan Nohrden “estimated it was about 25 to 30 feet long, lying on its side.” The picture looks like an old toy locomotive with a second car attached, lying together on their side. Under about 35 feet of water and 14 feet of silt, the engine will stay where it is. Unable to get permission to disturb the lake bottom, it stays where it landed about 100 years ago.


As a final tribute, the locomotive was registered as a Submerged Historic Archaeological Resource in December 1995.

North Cove "Storage Space"

The Rucker Mill occupied pretty much all of current day North Cove Park and south to the Boys & Girls Club. It also took advantage of all the "storage space" that North Cove offered. The bottom of the cove has been the site of a number of artifact discoveries including log dogs, spikes, saw blades and other tools used in the mill.

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