Anacortes Local Custom Tips by glabah
Anacortes Local Customs: 1 reviews and 3 photos
old Anacortes Railway line along R street in 2010
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, a man and wife team constructed a small narrow gauge railway that slowly expanded to include tourist passenger service that connected parts of downtown. The heart and soul of the operation was Tommy Thompson, who served as the engineer in every sense of the word, having designed the passenger equipment and rebuilt the locomotive from parts from an old mining locomotive. His wife and a few city volunteers helped out with ticket sales and other support activities.
The railway was built to 18 inch track gauge (the distance between the rails) and could be crammed around a number of existing buildings, including the old Northern Pacific train station.
In 1999, Tommy Thompson passed away. His wife operated the train a few times in his honor after that, but the family simply didn't have the ability to continue operating the railway.
The locomotive and passenger cars were donated to a steam power plant museum on the south side of downtown Seattle.
By the late 1980s, there were over 40,000 people coming to Anacortes to ride the train, and therefore downtown Anacortes experienced somewhat of a tourist revival thanks to this little train. The train no longer lives in Anacortes, but out of respect for the owner and the resulting positive changes to the city his dream allowed, the new bike trail that has been built on top of the old railroad right of way is known as the "Tommy Thompson Path" in his honor.
Even 11 years later, remains of the railway still linger in Anacortes, though. You will find streches of track along R Avenue south of 4th Street and along the south side of 9th Street.
The Anacortes Railway at Railfan.net has a few photos:
Last Run of Tommy's Train from Seattle Post-Intelligencer:
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