Good railfanning spots in and around Seattle.

Discussion related to railroading activities past and present in the American Pacific Northwest (including Northern California, Oregon, Washington, and southern British Columbia).

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Re: Good railfanning spots in and around Seattle.

Postby CarterB » Thu Jun 17, 2010 8:11 pm

If you are a bit into railroad history, and find a friend with a car, you may want to check out the Northwest Railroad Museum on the old MILW out in Snowqualmie http://www.trainmuseum.org/ (some neat one of a kind logging locos too) or a live steam logging excursion with Climax, Shay or Heisler at the Mt. Ranier Scenic RR in Elbe http://www.mrsr.com/ or even the Yakima Electric Railway Museum http://www.yakimavalleytrolleys.org/ (bit of a trip out there)
Bring back the Slumbercoaches!!
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Re: Good railfanning spots in and around Seattle.

Postby Vincent » Fri Jun 18, 2010 10:11 am

Most of the LINK light rail ROW is above ground, there are several stations that might give you some good shots. The Tukwila Station (nowhere near the Tukwila Amtrak station) and Mt. Baker Station are aerial stations. Most of the route through Rainier Valley is at-grade. The operations and maintenance base is just south of downtown Seattle, a couple of blocks east of the BNSF/Sounder ROW.

The Snoqualmie Train Museum is on a bus route. Take ST 554 from downtown Seattle and transfer to Metro 209 at the Issaquah TC. It's about a 70 minute trip each way.
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Re: Good railfanning spots in and around Seattle.

Postby njt/mnrrbuff » Fri Jun 18, 2010 3:26 pm

Thanks Vincent. No museums on this trip. I wonder if there is a way to get from the Light rail stop in Tukwila to the Amtrak Station? How's the photography situation there?
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Re: Good railfanning spots in and around Seattle.

Postby Vincent » Sat Jun 19, 2010 1:05 am

Tukwila LINK station is a rather spectacular aerial station with lots of good angles for photos. The Tukwila Sounder/Cascades station is nothing more than 2 wooden platforms with a couple of plywood shacks sitting alongside the railroad tracks. The 2 stations are connected by Metro route 140, but I wouldn't waste my vacation time making a trip to the Sounder/Cascades shacks.
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Re: Good railfanning spots in and around Seattle.

Postby njt/mnrrbuff » Sat Jun 19, 2010 7:23 am

I will probably add that LINK station to my list. As far as photographing Sounder, Amtk, and freights, I will stay in SEA.
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Re: Good railfanning spots in and around Seattle.

Postby njt/mnrrbuff » Mon Jul 19, 2010 7:03 pm

What is the photography situation like in Everett, especially around the Amtrak Station? thanks
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Re: Good railfanning spots in and around Seattle.

Postby Vincent » Tue Jul 20, 2010 8:35 am

Without a car, I'd say Everett Station has a very limited appeal for photographers. The building is nice, but there isn't much of a backdrop and there isn't much train action at the station. If you could get to Delta Yard or to some of the water crossings north of Everett you might find some good shots, but the Everett Station is a typical intermodal transportation hub (lots of buses, not many trains) built in warehouse/industrial part of town.

If you want to do some photography outside of Seattle, I would suggest Tacoma. The railyard is huge, there is background and it's easy to get there from Seattle (Sounder trains run both directions during rush hours and ST express buses run at least every 30 minutes all day).
'
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Re: Good railfanning spots in and around Seattle.

Postby njt/mnrrbuff » Tue Jul 20, 2010 11:00 am

thanks for the info about everett. I heard that Tacoma is good. I probably won't make it there but where can I view the yard safety, if I go. How safe are the neighborhoods around the yard and the Amtrak Sta?

I want to try out the Talgo equipment. Even though Tukwila might not be the best for photography, I may take the Cascades down ther, take one of the buses to the Light rail, and then ride the light rail to the airport and back to downtown SEA.
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Re: Good railfanning spots in and around Seattle.

Postby Vincent » Tue Jul 27, 2010 10:40 am

If you go to Tacoma, I suggest going with a minimum of equipment. There are some pretty rough neighborhoods on the distant hills that overlook the BNSF yard, but if you don't give the impression of being an easy mark, I think you'll be just fine. The area around Freighthouse Square has always felt safe to me (during the day) and there are some overpasses of the rail tracks that are good for photographers.

The Amtrak Station is about 3 blocks from the Sounder Station at Freighthouse Square. If you arrive on Amtrak from Seattle, go through the station and walk towards downtown on Puyalllup Ave. When you see the small transit center/Greyhound Station, climb the stairs and walk through the parking garage and you will see Freighthouse Square and the ROW for the Tacoma Streetcar to downtown. The Streetcar is free and runs every 10 minutes, so it's not a waste of time or money--except that there's nothing of interest in downtown Tacoma other than the old Union Station (now a federal courthouse).

From the Freighthouse Square/Tacoma Dome station you can take ST 574 to the Airport Link Station and ride Link to downtown Seattle.

One other note: it sounds like you will want to purchase an ORCA card when you get to Seattle. They cost $5 and you pre-load them with money to pay for transit fares. The advantage of having an ORCA card is that one fare is transferable from one agency's system to another's. If you pay cash, you can't transfer from Pierce Transit to Sound Transit to Metro Transit with one fare payment, you will have to pay 3 times. But with the ORCA card, the fare paid on PT is transferable for a ride on ST and then again on MT. Any additional fare required is automatically deducted from the balance on the ORCA card. Get an ORCA from the Sound Transit TVMs.
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Re: Good railfanning spots in and around Seattle.

Postby njt/mnrrbuff » Wed Jul 28, 2010 6:01 am

Thanks for the info on Tacoma. Where are the distant hills with those rough areas; east or west of the yard and Amtrak Station? I would be in TAC in the morning. How good is the Amtrak sta for pictures?
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Re: Good railfanning spots in and around Seattle.

Postby Vincent » Wed Jul 28, 2010 12:33 pm

If you zoom in on a Google Map of the area around the Tacoma Amtrak station you will see a lot of rail lines and that yard is usually pretty busy. I'm not sure how much you can photograph from the station, but the D Street overpass gives you a good look at the yard. I don't know if you can shoot from SR 509, but the area around the Museum of Glass might have some shots. The rough area is the Hilltop neighborhood to the west of downtown, the area around and west of Yakima Avenue gets pretty bad, especially at night. But the rail yard is quite a ways from Hilltop. If you had a car, you might be tempted to go up there to get a shot of the whole railyard, but I wouldn't recommend it. The area around the Amtrak station is an industrial zone, not much riff-raff hanging out down there.

If you can shoot from 509 or find a spot near the Museum of Glass or old Union Station, you might get a good picture with Mt. Rainier in the background.
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