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Seattle Sketcher

An illustrated journal of life in the Puget Sound region by Times artist Gabriel Campanario.

May 28, 2009 at 1:46 PM

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Interurban Car 55, the light rail of the early 1900s

Posted by Gabriel Campanario

trolleylynnwood052709m.jpgMay 27, 10:50 a.m. [View larger] [Map]

There's something ironic about light rail service coming to Seattle this year. There was already light rail in the region a hundred years ago. It ran from Tacoma to Everett. I'm sure you've heard of the Interurban:

• Service between Tacoma and Seattle started in 1902. The Seattle-Everett line opened in 1910.
• The Greyhound bus station at Stewart and 8th used to be Seattle's stop for the Interurban. It was built in 1928.
• The ride between Everett and Seattle had 26 stops and took 1 hour and 10 minutes.
• The single-ended electric cars had capacity for 45 passengers, including a gentlemen or smokers compartment.
• A one-way trip between Everett and Seattle cost 75 cents.

So, what happened to this awesome rail network? "When they improved Highway 99 in October of 1938 you really had easy access to Seattle. You could easily beat the time it took these guys," said Jeanne Rogers, 62, a local authority on the subject and daughter of one of the last Interurban car operators. Cars and freeways beat the rails as a way of transportation and the Interurban was dismantled in 1939.

Jeanne and her husband, Gary, 68, a retired railroader like herself, are part of a committee that has helped restore car 55, one of six that covered the Everett-Seattle line. It's on display at Lynnwood's Heritage Park.

Come back tomorrow to read more about the Interurban and about Jeanne's dad, Walter Shannon, who saw the job he loved go away when he was only 29.

Related links:
City of Lynnwood Heritage Park page, HistoryLink.org, VintageSeattle.org.

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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