Amtrak's southbound Coast Starlight is the first train we encounter today, drumming across the drawbridge over Chambers Creek. A foggy morning has burned off leaving a beautiful northwest sunny day. I'm not sure what was going on today, but the trains we saw were running on the opposing track, i.e., southbounds on the northward track and vice-versa. Has BNSF changed directions while I was sleeping?

West Tacoma, WA
10:55 AM Sept. 28, 2008


Almost immediately the northbound Amtrak Cascades could be heard sounding it's horn at the Steilacoom ferry dock. Cascades operate with Spanish-built Talgo equipment, which was designed to be used with custom locomotives that are the same height as the coaches. Amtrak added the "fins" to the head and tail cars to provide a more eye-pleasing arrangement. This train is operating with a former F40PH on the head end. It carries the engineer and some baggage but is no longer powered. The power comes from a F59PHI on the rear, operated remotely from the F40. When the train reaches Seattle it will return southbound with the F59 leading, alleviating the need to turn the train.

West Tacoma, WA
11:05 AM Sept. 28, 2008


BNSF northbound garbage train returns to Seattle for another load. Apparently there's no danger of this traffic going away anytime soon since both BNSF and UP operate daily trains taking out Seattle's trash.

West Tacoma, WA
11:18 AM Sept. 28, 2008


Another view of the complex maze of steel and wire that makes up Drawbridge 14 as the northbound garbage train rolls by.

West Tacoma, WA
11:19 AM Sept. 28, 2008


A rather spindley-looking gear operates the lift mechanism. Huge concrete counterweights offset the weight of the span making such an arrangement possible. Opening the bridge for watercraft is practically unheard of anymore, though on occasion the railroad will raise the span a few feet to make sure everything is in working order.

West Tacoma, WA
Sept. 28, 2008


One of the features of this area is Steilacoom's Sunnyside Park, which offers activity opportunities for the entire family such as picnicking, beachcombing, driftwood fort building, volleyball, even scuba diving! Unfortunately, all this can be distracting to the railfan who may find himself out of position when a train approaches, such as this UP southbound manifest.

West Tacoma, WA
11:53 AM Sept. 28, 2008


What's this? Another garbage train! At least BNSF runs some interesting power on these runs.

West Tacoma, WA
12:04 PM Sept. 28, 2008


How do you tell a garbage train from a regular doublestack train? Doublestacks carry colorful containers that proudly display their owner's name or logo. Garbage trains use the same basic containers but are usually pretty bland, without logos or any lettering other than what is necessary to identify the unit. Many are open-topped and (usually) covered with a tarp to keep the load from blowing out. And, oh yes, these trains are often accompanied by a distinctive scent.

West Tacoma, WA
Sept. 28, 2008


BNSF 4472 southbound mainfest passes the south end of Sunnyside Park.

West Tacoma, WA
12:23 PM Sept. 28, 2008


UP 4288 northbound garbage train passes the south end of Sunnyside Park.

West Tacoma, WA
12:28 PM Sept. 28, 2008


All photos by David J. Cooley - All Rights Reserved

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