Seattle voters approve purchase of Rainier Valley interurban line on March 7, 1911.

  • By Walt Crowley
  • Posted 10/02/2000
  • Essay 2692
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On March 7, 1911, Seattle voters approve $800,000 in municipal bonds to purchase the ailing Seattle, Renton and Southern Railway, an electric interurban line that ran between Seattle and Renton. After the vote, the railway owners raise their price to $1.2 million, and Seattle reprograms the money to establish the Division A line between downtown Seattle and Ballard. This new line enters service in 1914.

Purchase of the Rainier Valley line, which was the region's first true interurban railway, was prompted by patron dissatisfaction and by labor disputes. Service was mediocre and passengers were treated poorly. The line failed to meet many franchise obligations, such as paving between tracks, but voters rejected finance plans in the 1913 and 1928 elections. The company had a franchise good to the end of 1934: On December 31 of that year the City of Seattle allowed the franchise to expire. Service on the line ended January 1, 1937.


Leslie Blanchard, The Street Railway Era in Seattle: A Chronicle of Six Decades (Forty Fort, PA: Harold E. Cox, 1968); Walt Crowley, Routes: A Brief History of Public Transportation in Metropolitan Seattle (Seattle: Metro Transit, 1993).

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