Greetings from Seattle, Washington, USA

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

West Coast Railfanning

I've just returned from a short trip along the West Coast. Those of you who've followed me for a while know that I love trains and, although there are many terms for folks like me, one of the nicer ones is "railfan". So today's post is the first portion of the trip from Seattle, Washington, to Eugene, Oregon.  In future posts, I will cover more of the full rail portion of the trip to Los Angeles, California.

Now, you may ask: why do you do this? Well, to me, it's a fun and relaxing way to travel. All of the pictures here were taken with my phone camera so they are definitely not perfect, but you get the idea. Keep in mind that most were taken while the train was moving and often through the thick windows of the car.

When taking these photos I had in mind that I would post them here on the blog so part of the plan was to give you an idea of what you might see on this rail journey. You may wish to scroll through them quickly, or look more closely by clicking on them for a larger view. I did enhance some pics to adjust the lighting a bit.

When passenger railroads were in their prime, most lines had name trains.  Some famous trains: Burlington’s Zephyr, Milwaukee’s Hiawatha, the New York Central's 20th Century Limited, Pennsylvania Railroad's Broadway Limited, and the Great Northern’s Empire Builder. The train I'm on here is called the Coast Starlight which was originally run by the Southern Pacific Railroad, and now by AMTRAK.

Boarding at King Street Station, Seattle. The train is scheduled to depart at 9:45 am daily.

I'm traveling in a small compartment called a "roomette".

AMTRAK provides a "welcome aboard beverage" in what they call the "sleeper cars"

I wonder what it's like to live so close to the rails ...

 Hallway in my car ...

Passing the Pierce County ferry terminal south of Tacoma

The Pacific Parlour car is a comfortable place to sit and watch the scenery roll by ...

Along the shore of Puget Sound ...

Scenery rolling by ...

Getting close to Portand, Oregon, and I noticed bird nests on these pilings. You have to look real close but there is a bird sitting on the piling to the left. There were nests on the other two. Not much of a chance to do any birding here, as the train is moving too fast.

I've read that the AMTRAK speed limit on this run is 79 MPH. I like to carry along a little GPS to monitor the speed and exact location of the train.

Some people have a lot of fun living right on a river.

The train is about to pass over the Columbia River which is the border between Washington and Oregon. You can see the front of the train on the left and the bridge ahead.

Crossing the mighty Columbia

Some interesting homes appear to be floating on the river's edge.

Another river crossing, this time it's the Willamette, just before we enter Portland, Oregon.

Above: Entering Portland and another bridge over the Willamette. Below: A condo (apartment?) building right along the rails. Nice new building. Would be a good location for a railfan.

Entering Portland Station.

The historic station is undergoing some renovation. 

Back aboard and crossing the Willamette again, this time on the way OUT of town.

An interesting waterfall at a power plant (?) along the river.

I liked the looks of this place ...

Getting into farming country south of Portland ...

Depot in Salem, Oregon, a historic building here in the state's capitol.

Pretty fields of yellow ... Oregon Sunshine?

Closing out this post as we arrive at the station in Eugene, Oregon, about 280 miles into the journey. More to come on yet another post. Thanks for stopping by John's Island!


  1. What a lovely looking trip. My husband worked for the railroad for 35 years before he retired. We are a train loving family ;-)

  2. Thanks for the train ride.It was most enjoyable and very scenic.

  3. you actually got some GREAT shots via cam phone and thick train windows! really lovely scenery (and a few really neat homes!) so, will you be moving to the railfan condo soon? ha!

  4. Thanks so much for sharing that trip. I love travelling by train! You got some great shots, too!

  5. All aboard! Thank you for taking us along on your wonderful train journey. I have never traveled very far on a train before and can see what I am missing. Your great images certainly give the reader a "feel" for what it would be like to travel by rail. Terrific post, John!

  6. Great shots, John! Your photos and captions really made me feel like I was right along on the journey. Lovely! I think being a railfan is a very good thing. What a relaxing and interesting way to travel. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Nice post John Enjoyed the ride. Cool Trip.

  8. Looks like LOTS of fun! I would LOVE this way of travelling!

  9. (i do post a lot, i know... sometimes nature just gives me a ton of material and i have to struggle to keep up!) :) i always appreciate your comments you leave. :)

  10. Hi John, first of all thank you for the visit and leaving a comment I do appreciate it a lot!!
    I have not tried riding a train and I love to do it. Here in Michigan I have known that there is a train from MI to Chicago I thought of riding it and just what you do taking pictures and enjoying the ride. I wish we have train all over USA so at least we can enjoy the free beautiful scenery offered by nature. I love all your shots and looks like the landscape are from Europe hehe. Looking forward to your California train ride photos I am sure it's a different scenery too. Thanks for the following and I am following too. Happy weekend!


  11. Great photos and info about your train trip.

    We took a train trip from Los Angeles to San Luis Obispo a couple of years ago. It was a fun experience and I would do it again.

  12. Very nice series, John. I would really enjoy sitting in the purple parlor car. The many bridges of Portland brought back memories; we lived in that area for 4 years.

    Thank you for the nice comments. I'm glad you are enjoying the downtown park photos. A good while back you posted about a park over the Baker tunnel - we have yet to find a day to get out and discover that.