Great Northern Tunnel

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Great Northern Tunnel
Seattle - South Portal of train tunnel 02.jpg
South Portal of the tunnel
LocationSeattle, Washington
CoordinatesCoordinates: 47°36′14″N 122°19′59″W / 47.604°N 122.333°W / 47.604; -122.333
SystemAmtrak Empire Builder
Amtrak Cascades
Sounder commuter rail
Great Northern Railway (original)
Characterpassenger, freight
Line length1 mile (1.6 km)
No. of tracks2
Track gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) (standard gauge)
Tunnel clearance28 feet (8.5 m)

The Great Northern Tunnel is a 1-mile (1.6 km) double-tracked railway tunnel under downtown Seattle, Washington, completed by the Great Northern Railway in 1905, and now owned by the BNSF Railway, on its Scenic Subdivision. At the time it was built, it was the tallest and widest tunnel in the United States, at 28 feet (8.5 m) high and 30 feet (9.1 m) wide.[1]

The southern portal is just north of King Street Station, and the northern in Victor Steinbrueck Park, below the Alaskan Way Viaduct, between Virginia and Pine Streets. The Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel passes four feet below the Great Northern Tunnel.[2]

Freight and passenger trains use the tunnel, including Amtrak service to Chicago (the Empire Builder) and Vancouver, B.C. (Cascades), and Sound Transit's Seattle–Everett Sounder commuter rail service.

A more distant view of the South Portal of the Great Northern Tunnel
A more distant view of the South Portal of the tunnel


  1. ^ Daryl C. McClary (November 27, 2002). "Great Northern Tunnel — Seattle (essay #4029)". HistoryLink. Retrieved 2007-12-07.
  2. ^ "Pioneer Square Station-the Pioneering Spirit". King County Metro. April 15, 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-10.

External links[edit]