Welcome to PNWR's Washington Travelog!


Washington state is situated in the Northwest corner of the country. It is bordered by Oregon to the south, British Columbia, Canada to the north and Idaho to the east. The west coast of Washington is bordered by the Pacific Ocean. Washington is ranked 18th in size out of the 50 states. Washington is the only state to be named after a US President. Olympia is the states capital. The 1962 Seattle Worlds Fair brought us the Space Needle. The Cascade mountain range host many volcanos, including Mt Rainier which is a Washington landmark. Mt St Helens was the latest to erupt back in 1980.

Major business in Washington is Boeing (if you've ridden in a 737 it was built at the Renton plant), Microsoft and Starbucks among other big business. Some say the Western Washington and Eastern Washington is divided by the Cascade Mountain range. This is how I came up with the subtitle of Evergreens on the west and Grasslands on the east. The numerous Blog posts that will be presented here will show these differences on both sides of the state.

Weather is usually cool and damp in western Washington during nearly all of the Fall, Winter and Spring months. If it isn't raining it may be at least overcast. Should the sun be out at all during these months, I try to get out for some train chasing, or at least go over to Eastern WA. July and August is our summertime on this side of the mountains.

Eastern Washington is in the rainshadow of the Cascades so is the drier part of the state, though cold in the winter and hot in the summer. Seattle, WA is the states largest city. Other large cities are Tacoma and Spokane, WA.

The first major railroad to enter Washington was the Northern Pacific in 1885 followed by the Great Northern in 1893. Milwaukee Road followed in 1909. Union Pacific entered Seattle in the early 1900's as well using trackage rights over the NP from Portland to Seattle.

In 1970 the Northern Pacific, Great Northern and smaller Spokane Portland and Seattle merged with the Burlington route to form Burlington Northern. In the 1980's BN decided to spin off or completely abandon some of their Washington routes and Milwaukee Road left the state completely in 1980. NP's route over Stampede Pass was one of these routes shut down by BN but was reopened at the start of the BNSF Railway in 1996. Union Pacific has lost some branchlines but their main line trains still travel over the BNSF between Seattle and Portland.

Many of Washington's branchlines were spun off to shortlines and most will be covered in this website over time.

Railroading in Washington seems to be on the increase, more loaded coal, oil and grain trains entering the state and a like number of empties leaving, many of these eastbound empties travel over the ex-NP Stampede Pass route that during 1983-1996 saw no train traffic at all with the exception of occasional reroutes or test trains.

I was born in Seattle so I am a Washington native, and Renton has been home since 1957. I will enjoy sharing features of my home state so stay tuned as there will be many.