written by Lindsay Korst
Monday, August 10, 2020
Good old vacation time. Nothing planned for today so why not go check out the
Chehalis railcam and spot some trains along the way there?
It has been a long time since I railfanned BNSF's Seattle Sub. Part of the
problem is that access to the tracks south of Tacoma requires a great deal of
driving around -- the road takes 2 sides of a triangle, the railroad takes one
side. So, off to Kent, WA for our first stop.
I am parked at the former NP depot no more than 2 minutes when I hear a horn.
It's a Seattle-bound
slowing for its stop at the Kent commuter station.
I set off to head south when I hear another horn. Quickly I
turn towards the tracks and bang off a few shots of a Tacoma-bound (reverse
The Sounder paint scheme is one of my favorites -- I just love all those wavy
Passing the former NP yard at Auburn, I come across a couple south-facing trains
waiting for a rested crew.
At Meeker (with its old BN style station sign) I pass a cut of cars waiting for
interchange on the
At Puyallup, one more northbound Sounder to spot in beautiful low light.
All 3 Sounder trains I spotted had a locomotive at each end rather than
utilizing their cab cars.
Following the tracks through Tacoma, I spot the magnificent
Station basking in the sun. Opened in 1911 by the
Pacific, it is now used as a Federal Court House.
Y'all may have noticed I'm railfanning an old NP line. BUT...both Union Pacific
AND Great Northern did have trackage rights and indeed
split passenger train duties
back in the day.
Titlow Park! I could say that all day long. Tit...Tit...Titlow Park! Anyways, I
snagged a great reflective shot of a northbound loaded oil train.
It was here I started utilizing the Chehalis railcam. From their unique "On
Sheet" list of trains that pass the camera, I was able to determine all sorts of
information about the train I just saw:
0720 Northbound BNSF U-TNDTAO Oil Load, Trenton, ND to Tacoma, WA, 2 engines
front, 2 engines DPU, 5131 in the lead.
The Chambers Creek bridge near Steilacoom is extremely oochie. Would have loved
to catch a train here, but alas, nothing showed up.
The old ex-NP Steilacoom depot has seen better days, but at least it's still
"Centennial" depot was built as a replacement for the old East Olympia stop
back in 1989 (100 years of Washington statehood). Fund raising included "buying
a brick" to which yours truly contributed.
I wasn't at the depot more than 2 minutes when a whistle from the south
indicated Amtrak #500 was close at hand.
I really like the looks of the new
Siemens "Charger" SC-44
locomotive now running on the Amtrak Cascades. That rear end crew cab on the
Mount Jefferson Talgo trainset is butt-ugly, though...
About 25 minutes earlier, Amtrak #500 was blasting through Chehalis.
I had to visit boonie East Olympia just to look around. The local grocery store
has a wonderful train mural painted on one wall.
To my surprise and delight, I happened upon a
Sound and Pacific (PSAP) EMD GP40-2 #424 originally built for the
Rolling along Highway 507 out of Tenino, I happened upon a coal train. Just time
for a grab shot, but the trusty Chehalis cam had snapped a much better image
This is BNSF C-SCMRBC - Northbound Coal Load, Spring Creek Mine, MT to Roberts
Bank Export Terminal, Delta BC, 2 engines front, 2 engines DPU.
Somewhere south of Bucoda (Conner Road), I realized Amtrak's
Coast Starlight was due any minute. It was a grab shot at best, but the train
featured three P42 locomotives - more than enough power for its short consist.
#11 southbound then passed Chehalis depot at 11:59am.
Okay, this is the crappiest picture I took today, but it tells a story. Here I
am sitting at the E. Main Street crossing in downtown Centralia. The train
directly in front of me on Main One is s-l-o-w-l-y pulling into the yard just
past the depot. Behind it on Main Two, also heading northbound, is a grain train
running at track speed (40 mph).
I waited at this crossing at least 20 minutes for the freight to clear. More
than enough time to daintily consume my Whopper with Cheese lunch. The guy in
the red pickup eventually gave up and tried another crossing.
Here's the skinny on the two trains:
BNSF H-PASEVE Priority Manifest, Pasco, WA to Everett, WA, 3 units
BNSF X-RGTAND Grain Empty, Rivergate Terminal, Portland, OR to Alton, ND, 2
engines front, 1 engine DPU.
Grabbed a shot of Centralia's massive passenger station (Amtrak stop), then
heading south into Chehalis I came upon this enormous, bird - I guess -- at the
Yard Birds store.
JUST as I was rolling up to the
Lewis County Museum / Chehalis Depot / railcam location, a hot UP intermodal
blasted by on Main 2. Damn! Luckily the webcam captured its passing for me.
Northbound UP I-G4SE - Intermodal, Global 4 Joliet, IL to Seattle - 4 units up
With the fence and other detritus surrounding the structure (yep, former NP
station), it's not terribly photogenic. Here's a close-up of the famous camera
set up (top camera can rotate and zoom, but is usually facing south. Static
camera below is always facing north).
Standing on a loading platform, I get a good view of BNSF
#7514 on a vehicle train.
Southbound BNSF V-BLUPTS - Vehicle train, Blue Island, IL to Portland Terminal
(via Seattle). 2 units.
That's me doing a little "ego-fanning"! Camera in hand, I check out the depot
My last train at Chehalis was a southbound bare table (just flatcars). Here's
Southbound BNSF B-SSESIF, baretable South Seattle, WA to Stockton, CA - 2 units
Earlier this morning, I wanted a Mount Rainier with train picture, but realized
it's more an afternoon shot. On the way home, I once again stopped back along
Tacoma's Ruston Way....and picked not quite the right spot! Oh well, the garbage
train came up on me fast and it was the best grab shot I could manage. BNSF
#6204 finally rolled by the Chehalis depot at 1712 that evening.
I had a great time out putzing around with the trains. Yes, I missed quite a few
moving from location to location, but it was fun visiting old haunts from back
in my college days (yes, I was trainspotting back then, too). Thank you Chehalis
railcam and its sponsors for making my
trip so much more interesting!