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Seattle Sketcher

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

May 29, 2009 at 4:46 PM

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Memories of the Interurban from daughter of last motorman

Posted by Gabriel Campanario

therogers052709m.jpgMay 27, 9:46 a.m. [View larger]

[Continued from Thursday's post]

Jeanne Rogers and her husband, Gary, sat across from each other inside Interurban car 55. I situated myself on the seats across from them and sketched away while listening to a plethora of rail facts and stories. Interurban car 55 is not really a trolley, it's an electric railroad. That's one of the first things Jeanne clarified for me.

She and her husband are both second-generation railroaders. "That's why I married him," Jeanne says, "Because we could talk the same language."

Jeanne's father, Walter Shannon, was one of the last motormen to drive one of these cars. From the time he was 16 until the rail line was dismantled in 1939, the Interurban played a big role in Shannon's life -- and not just for work. The woman who became his wife and Jeanne's mother was the daughter of the conductor he worked with.

After 1939 Shannon continued working for the company who operated the Interurban, North Coast Lines, but they had turned their attention to buses. Walt drove a bus until 1955, when "they nailed him down for being short 10 cents on the change box and he decided to quit," Jeanne said. At age 45 he started a second career with the Snohomish County Sheriff's office. "There were two jobs in his life," Jeanne says. "The rails and the Sheriff's office. He never talked about the buses."

In 1992 the city of Lynnwood bought car 55 and raised funds to restore it, transforming it from the burger joint it had become into a treasured jewel that now sits under a protective shelter at Heritage Park. It's usually behind a gate but you can go inside as I did if you take one of the tours conducted by the Rogers. (For more information visit the City of Lynnwood Heritage Park page.)

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