The Pacific Northwest has a long history of trains. Several major railroads had transcontinental lines terminating in Washington state including Great Northern, Northern Pacific and The Milwaukee Road. As almost anywhere in the US, growth of the region was spurred by the railroads. Today BNSF and Union Pacific are the only Class 1 lines serving the area. Many other lines are now some of the finest Rails to Trails in the country. Summer is tourist train season and Washington and Oregon have their share. We rode some, chased some, visited historic and contemporary rails sites. We spotted Amtrak, the Cascadian, Sound Transit and countless freights.
Puyallup Washington is just one city in the Puget Sound area that celebrates its rail heritage.
The Chehalis and Centralia Railway preserves a branch line of the Milwaukee Road south of Tacoma.
The Mt. Ranier Scenic Railway and Museum operates on an old logging line near Mt. Rainier. This railroad features a “tank” style locomotive with its water supply wrapped in a tank around the boiler rather than in a tender.
The Oregon Rail Heritage Center is in downtown Portland. Among its collection is the former Southern Pacific 4449 “Daylight” locomotive arguably the most beautiful steam locomotive ever built. 4449 is operational today and leads excursions periodically. It famously led the 1976 Bicentennial Freedom Train.
Oregon has its own scenic railroads including the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad. Its a short ride from Rockaway Beach to Garibaldi and back. We went on a Sunday and lots of people were enjoying the ride along the Pacific coast. In addition to the ride, there is a collection of historic rail equipment to view. The weather is September was mixed, sunny and warm then cool and foggy or cloudy then sunny again. Again we found steam in the Pacific Northwest.
We found many enjoyable trains in the Pacific Northwest. There are more to be sure. Its a great place to visit during the Summer and early Fall before the rains begin in earnest.