Railfanning in Seattle

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Railfanning in Seattle

Postby njt/mnrrbuff » Tue Jul 14, 2015 7:04 am

Between Aug 8-12, I'm going to be in SEA. Where are the best places to photograph passenger operations? How is Tukwila? I'm going to be staying in Sea-Tac.
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Re: Railfanning in Seattle

Postby NorthWest » Tue Jul 14, 2015 12:19 pm

The station at Tukwila is good, if not particularly scenic. One advantage is that the BNSF and UP are parallel there and both can be photographed from the southbound platform. You'll see plenty of Sounders, Cascades, and the Coast Starlight.

I'd recommend taking the Link light rail into the city from SeaTac. It drops you right in Union Station, former home of UP and MILW long distance trains and a wonderful building. A short walk across the street is King Street Station, Amtrak's current station and the former home of NP and GN. The interior is magnificent. Slightly south of the station is Holgate Street, which bisects the coach yard and has wide sidewalks for rail viewing. It isn't in the best of areas, though, so be on guard.

North of King Street Station and the GN tunnel is the waterfront, where the tracks run very close to the water. The Olympic Sculpture Park has a footbridge over the tracks that is excellent, particularly in the evening. You'll see Sounder, Amtrak Cascades, and the Empire Builder here. North of the waterfront is Interbay/Balmer yard, which has overpasses and nearby streets that offer views of the roundhouse and engine service tracks. A trail allows for view of the small hump. Another excellent location is the Salmon Bay Bridge as viewed from the Chittenden Locks.
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Re: Railfanning in Seattle

Postby njt/mnrrbuff » Tue Jul 14, 2015 3:33 pm

Thanks for the suggestions. Trains that stop at Tukwila; do the southbound stop on the westernmost platform?

I will check out all of the locations alongside Downtown Seattle. I may look into going to Carkeek Park.
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Re: Railfanning in Seattle

Postby NorthWest » Tue Jul 14, 2015 4:26 pm

Yes. Some of the UP view is tree obstructed, but there should still be a few windows that are large enough to shoot photos through.

Carkeek Park is excellent, as is Edmonds, a couple of miles to the north. The ferry dock route is bisected by the tracks, and you can get both in a photo.

There are also great spots in Tacoma and slightly south if you want information on them.
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Re: Railfanning in Seattle

Postby njt/mnrrbuff » Fri Jul 24, 2015 11:51 am

How is the photography situation in Lakewood along the right of way that Sounder uses?
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Re: Railfanning in Seattle

Postby NorthWest » Sun Jul 26, 2015 12:01 am

The line passes through industrial parks in that stretch, and so isn't all that scenic. There are a couple of grade crossings that you can shoot from, and Lakeview Avenue passes close by to the layover facility.
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Re: Railfanning in Seattle

Postby njt/mnrrbuff » Sun Jul 26, 2015 1:18 pm

Thanks. How safe are those neighborhoods around the station and the right of way within the Lakewood city limits?
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Re: Railfanning in Seattle

Postby NorthWest » Sun Jul 26, 2015 2:31 pm

Lakewood is pretty safe, at least during the day. It is directly adjacent to JBLM and so is rather secure.
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Re: Railfanning in Seattle

Postby njt/mnrrbuff » Fri Jul 31, 2015 6:38 am

I know that this is a bus question, but since it involves the Lakewood Sounder Station, I figuered that I would ask it. Where is and how far is the nearest stop of Sound Transit's 574 bus is to the Lakewood Sounder rail station? On Sunday Aug 9th, since there is a Mariners home game and Sounder will be running a special service that day, I'm going to take the 574 bus from SeaTac to Lakewood, and then a joyride on the train to Downtown Seattle.
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Re: Railfanning in Seattle

Postby NorthWest » Fri Jul 31, 2015 12:14 pm

The closest 574 stop is the SR 512 Park and Ride, which is a mile walk to the station straight down US 99.

I *think* Pierce Transit bus 300 will take you between the SR 512 P&R to the station, but I would check the route, times and availability.

Another option depending on timing is the Sound Transit 594 bus which will also take you from the SR 512 P&R to the station.
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Re: Railfanning in Seattle

Postby njt/mnrrbuff » Fri Jul 31, 2015 3:29 pm

Thanks guys! Is Rt. 99 pedestrian friendly between the SR 512 park n ride lot and the Lakewood Sounder Depot? If it is and the weather is ok, I may just get off there and walk to the train station.
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Re: Railfanning in Seattle

Postby NorthWest » Fri Jul 31, 2015 4:18 pm

It is fine, with standard sidewalks. The road is mostly straight and passes through various strip mall like areas.
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Re: Railfanning in Seattle

Postby theseaandalifesaver » Sun Sep 04, 2016 10:22 am

I would be interested in any and all Tacoma spots.
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Re: Railfanning in Seattle

Postby wigwagfan » Sun Dec 25, 2016 6:34 pm

theseaandalifesaver wrote:I would be interested in any and all Tacoma spots.


Basically anywhere in downtown Tacoma is pretty good, lots of access on either side of the tracks, lots of scenery. You can just hang out at the Bridge of Glass (connecting the Museum of Glass with the Washington State History Museum, which is adjacent to Union Station (not the Amtrak station), then if you get bored walk along Dock Street to D Street (another overpass) - on the east side of D Street is a nice little spot that looks like it was designed by a railfan and overlooks the turntable and west end of the yard.

Then, just explore the Tideflats to see what Tacoma Rail is doing...it's all industrial out there but you can get some interesting switching shots.

Finally, Chambers Bay on the west side of Tacoma. It's a large city owned golf course with various pedestrian paths that lead right to the railroad and the water, with a nice pedestrian overpass. The drawbridge over Chambers Bay proper is rather photogenic.
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