NRHS Convention – Tacoma 2011

By Peter Limper

From June 20-26, 2011, I attended the National Railway Historical Society convention in Tacoma, Washington.  Arriving on the evening of the 20th, I had a good view of Mt. Rainier from the Seattle-Tacoma airport.

The convention headquarters were in the very modern Hotel Morano; from my room I had good views of downtown Tacoma and the Foss Waterway.

On June 21 many convention attendees traveled south on this Amtrak Cascades train to Vancouver, WA, where they boarded a steam train for the return trip to Tacoma.

In the evening of June 21 there was a reception at the Washington State Historical Museum in Tacoma, with a chance to view this large and excellent HO layout.

The layout, depicting the Tacoma area in about 1955, has trains representing the railroads that served the city then: NP, GN, and CMStP&P, as well as UP.

On June 22 I took a “traction” tour (more accurately a tour of various forms of mass transit) to Seattle, beginning with a short ride on the Tacoma light rail, followed by a trip to Seattle on a double-deck “Sounder” train.

The push-pull cab of the train shown after arrival in Seattle’s King Street Station.

We rode the Seattle monorail line, which connects a downtown location with Seattle Center, near the Space Needle.

The two monorail trains look much as they did in 1961 when they were built by the Alweg Company of Germany.

A view of the interior of one of the monorail cars, and of the track ahead of the train.

Passengers disembark at the end of the one mile, two minute trip from downtown.

We were able to tour the maintenance facility just below track level, and view the drive machinery under the cars

These horizontal wheels guide the train along the single concrete rail, while other larger rubber-tired wheels support the weight of the train; the two copper electrical contact rails provide power to motors like that shown in the second picture.

We also rode the Sound Transit light rail system from downtown to the airport and back.

Sound Transit cars stand outside the maintenance facility.

The NRHS groups had an extensive tour of the maintenance facility.

Spare power trucks and other components for the 3-unit articulated cars, which are built by a Japanese-American consortium.

This car was being “wrapped” with a temporary advertising overlay; I don’t know if the workers used Testors Decalset.

After the transit tour, some convention attendees were dropped off at the Seattle waterfront, where I took an overall picture of the area from a bridge and photographed a ferry boat in Puget Sound.

Many NRHS members went on a dinner cruise on the Royal Argosy.

All NRHS passengers were seated on the lower deck for dinner, which made for crowding at the tables; I photographed a container ship from the dining room windows.

Views of Puget Sound and the Seattle skyline as the boat returned to port.

Tacoma has been a rail center ever since it became the western terminus of the Northern Pacific in 1887; the Union Station building opening in 1911.

The building now houses a Federal courthouse; the central rotunda, open to the public, has been restored to an appearance similar to when the station was built.

The building functioned as a railroad station until 1984; a display of photographs shows various periods in its history.

The current Amtrak station is about a mile south of the former Union Station; NRHS members awaited a steam excursion on June 25 as a UP freight passed.

Tacoma is served by the Amtrak “Coast Starlight” and by “Cascades” trains running between Eugene, Oregon, and Vancouver, BC using articulated “Talgo” equipment.

A pedestrian bridge near the former Union Station provided a good viewpoint to photograph freight trains on the lines running south from Tacoma toward Portland.

On June 25, after a steam excursion over Stampede Pass in the Cascades, I took a sunset picture from my hotel room while preparing to return to Memphis the next morning.

For pictures of other activities at the NRHS 2011 convention, see
Steam at NRHS Convention 2011

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