Interurban train service between Seattle and Tacoma ends on December 30, 1928.

  • By Alan J. Stein
  • Posted 9/19/2000
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 2671
On December 30, 1928, the last electric interurban railcar leaves Seattle for Tacoma. This marks the end of 26 years of regional interurban service between the two cities.

Down in the Valley

Interurban service between the two cities began in 1902, following Puget Sound Traction, Light & Power Company's acquisition of an incomplete railway launched by Henry Bucey in 1901. PSTL&P completed the line, which it called the Puget Sound Electric Railway, and inaugurated service on September 25, 1902.

The Seattle-Tacoma line extended from downtown Seattle along 1st Avenue to Georgetown. From there, it roughly paralleled the Duwamish River to Tukwila. A branch line veered east toward Renton, while the main track shot straight down the valley through Kent and Auburn. At the Pierce County line, the tracks turned west, heading fairly straight into downtown Tacoma.

The Seattle-Tacoma interurban was a godsend to farmers in the Kent Valley. Prior to the rail line, goods had to be transported to the cities by horse teams and wagons over rough roads. The electric trains allowed for quick transport of milk and produce. One of the line's freight trains became known as the Spud Daily, due to its service to the valley's potato farmers.

End of the Line

Although the Seattle-Tacoma interurban served the two cities well, by the late 1920s the line was suffering from financial difficulties. New roads networked throughout the valley, and many farmers and commuters were buying trucks and cars. Highway 99 was under construction, and the Seattle-Tacoma link was completed on October 18, 1928. This spelled the demise of the interurban.

Motorman Roy Kelly left Seattle with the last interurban on the night of December 30. After reaching Tacoma, he returned the train to Kent on schedule. From there, he and his crew were sent out to pick up all remaining freight cars, and in the early hours of December 31, the power was shut off. Thus ended 26 years of interurban service.


Sources: Warren Wing, To Tacoma by Trolley (Edmonds, WA: Pacific Fast Mail, 1995).

Related Topics:   Infrastructure | Roads & Rails

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