Railroad Depots

The historic rail route along today’s Centennial Trail was a major social and commerce hub, with depots in Bryant, Arlington, Marysville, Hartford, Machias, and Snohomish.

The Northern Pacific Railroad reached Snohomish in 1888, and was an instant hit. Loggers could send harvested logs from the 12,000 square miles of virgin forest from Seattle to Canada by steel and steam instead of with oxen teams. Through the 1950’s, up to 80 cars per day carried logs along this route.

The railroads changed ownership over their 100 year lifespan, much like modern companies with mergers and acquisitions. The railroads along the current trail have been the Seattle, Lake Shore & Eastern, Seattle and International, Northern Pacific Railway and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe.

Rural depots were more akin to farm structures than grand stone and brick civic buildings. These structures were built from the forest around them, wood framing and an A-frame or gable roof. Designs were often replicated at multiple locations across Washington. The modest depots belied their importance to the communities they served—the rail, a stop, a depot, these were life or death to a town at the turn of the 19th century.

Machias

Buildings on Division Street, Machias, early 1900’s; provided by Machias Historical Society.

Buildings on Division Street, Machias, early 1900’s; provided by Machias Historical Society.

Charles Niemeyer, Sr., from Machias, Maine, secured title to land here, and granted a right-of-way to the railroad in 1888. In 1890 L. W. Getchell and others bought 80 acres from Mr. Niemeyer to begin the town. The town’s main industry was timber; several lumber and shingle mills operated within a few miles of the town and shipped logs by rail from the depot. By the early 1900’s Machias was a bustling community with a railroad depot, many stores, a school, a church and a post office where the trailhead is now located. Most of the town was destroyed by fire in 1914. The Machias trailhead depot is a replica of the 1890 original.

  • Bryant Depot 1910 (Image courtesy—Washington State Railroads Historical Society)

    Bryant Depot 1910 (Image courtesy—Washington State Railroads Historical Society)

  • Train at Arlington Depot, 1955 (Image by Jim Fredrickson)

    Train at Arlington Depot, 1955 (Image by Jim Fredrickson)

  • Marysville Depot 1913; image courtesy of University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections, UW14180
Built in 1891, the Marysville depot was demolished by a train wreck in 1969, never to be rebuilt.

    Marysville Depot 1913; image courtesy of University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections, UW14180 Built in 1891, the Marysville depot was demolished by a train wreck in 1969, never to be rebuilt.

  • Hartford Depot c 1910, near Lake Stevens (Hwy 92 Trailhead) (Image courtesy—Machias Historical Society)

    Hartford Depot c 1910, near Lake Stevens (Hwy 92 Trailhead) (Image courtesy—Machias Historical Society)

  • Machias Depot c 1900 (Image courtesy—Machias Historical Society)

    Machias Depot c 1900 (Image courtesy—Machias Historical Society)

  • Snohomish Northern Pacific Depot in 1959; The NP Depot in Snohomish, built in 1888, was the first along Centennial Trail and was open 24 hours a day until 1915, when the cutoff to Everett started service. (Image courtesy—Washington State Railroads Historical Society)

    Snohomish Northern Pacific Depot in 1959; The NP Depot in Snohomish, built in 1888, was the first along Centennial Trail and was open 24 hours a day until 1915, when the cutoff to Everett started service. (Image courtesy—Washington State Railroads Historical Society)

  • Chicago, Milwaukee, St Paul & Pacific Depot in Snohomish built 1911; The depot is now the American Legion Building. (Image courtesy—Wikicommons)

    Chicago, Milwaukee, St Paul & Pacific Depot in Snohomish built 1911; The depot is now the American Legion Building. (Image courtesy—Wikicommons)

Fun Fact:

The current Arlington and Machias Depots are replicas of their 1890’s originals.