2020 Chehalis
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Chehalis 2020
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 Sounder train 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 commute) Sounder.

The Sounder paint scheme is one of my favorites -- I just love all those wavy blues!

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 Meeker Southern Railroad.

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 Union Station basking in the sun. Opened in 1911 by the Northern 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 standing.

The Olympia-Lacey "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 Puget Sound and Pacific (PSAP) EMD GP40-2 #424 originally built for the Florida East Coast Railway.

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 earlier.

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 front.

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 between trains.

My last train at Chehalis was a southbound bare table (just flatcars). Here's the specs:

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!