Monday, May 14, 2012

Scenic Sounder

We're still working through a backlog of photos on the website, so while we catch up we'll look at some golden semi-oldies. We'll head back to June of last year for this post.

Sounder; Edmonds, Wash.; June 17, 2011
Sounder is the commuter railroad operated by Sound Transit (which also operates streetcars and light rail) in the Seattle area. With lines both north and south out of Seattle, Sounder has numerous trains every weekday. And Sounder is one of the most scenic commuter lines in the United States, with running along Puget Sound north of Seattle (such as above at Edmonds) and vistas of Mount Rainier to the south. We'll take a tour of Sounder from Everett through Seattle to Tacoma.

Sounder; Everett, Wash.; June 16, 2011
We'll start our tour at the line's north end in Everett. Sounder operates over BNSF trackage, and in Everett we find a tunnel under the town. F59PHI is pushing a northbound train into the tunnel. ORCA is a fare card for transportation on all Sound Transit rail and bus lines. The tunnel opened in 1900 as part of the Great Northern.

Sounder; Edmonds, Wash.; June 17, 2011
One of the most scenic locations on the Sounder system is at Edmonds, where the railroad hugs Puget Sound. The yellow signs along the tracks indicate the speed limit of 45 m.p.h. for northbound BNSF freights, while Sounder (and Amtrak) are allowed 50 m.p.h.

Sounder; Edmonds, Wash.; June 17, 2011
South of the station in Edmonds we see a northbound train being pushed as it passes a marina. Edmonds is also the home to Washington State Ferry service to Kingston.

Sounder; King Street Station, Seattle, Wash.; June 22, 2011
King Street Station is at the south end of a tunnel under Seattle. The ORCA locomotive, No. 902, is pushing an Everett-bound train into the tunnel as it leaves the station. King Street Station was opened in 1906, serving the Great Northern and Northern Pacific. "Modernized" in the mid-20th century, King Street Station is undergoing a restoration to remove much of the modernization (such as drop ceilings), restoring it to its as-built grandeur.

Amtrak and Sounder; Seattle, Wash.; June 17, 2011
It's a pleasant day for Mariners baseball, so the retractable roof over Safeco Field is open and hanging over the tracks shared by Amtrak and Sounder just south of King Street Station. Amtrak NPCU No. 90250 leads a Cascades train past the servicing yard for Sound Transit. Visible under the roof is Qwest Field (since renamed CenturyLink Field), home the NFL Seahawks.

Sounder; Waller, Wash.; June 23, 2011
South of Seattle, Sounder serves Tacoma. Just minutes from the end of the line, F59PHI No. 908 leads a train across 52nd Street in Waller.

Sounder; Waller, Wash.; June 21, 2011
From the same grade crossing at 52nd Street we get this magnificent view of Mount Rainier. At 14,411 feet in altitude, Mount Rainier is the most topographically prominent mountain in the lower 48 states, and is considered one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world.

Sounder; Tacoma, Wash.; June 23, 2011
Our tour of Sounder ends at the line's southern
terminus in Tacoma. F59PHI No. 904 will shortly lead its train along a long wooden trestle on former Milwaukee Road trackage and arrive in the Tacoma station (itself a converted Milwaukee Road freight house). After unloading, No. 904 will join Nos. 905, 908 and 906 in the yard for the night.

As you can see, Sounder is a modern -- and scenic -- commuter railroad. It's well worth a visit if you are in the Pacific Northwest.

And while we're here, how about a plug -- the shot of Mount Rainier (above) is one of my favorite photos from last year and I selected it for the cover of my Trackside Travelogue 2011 book. The book is 240 pages on high quality paper, sized 10x8 (horizontal format), with one photo per page. For more details on the book, head on over to our bookstore. You can preview the entire book and get ordering information.

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