Puget Sound Electric Railway

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Puget Sound Electric Railway
Puget Sound Electric Railway train near Seattle.jpg
A train between Seattle and Tacoma c.1914
Reporting mark PSE
Locale SeattleTacoma, Washington
Dates of operation 1902–1928
Length 199.4 mi (320.9 km)
Headquarters Kent, Washington

The Puget Sound Electric Railway was an interurban railway that ran for 38 miles[1] between Tacoma and Seattle, Washington in the first quarter of the 20th century. Portions of the right-of-way still exist as multi-use trail through Milton, Washington, as well as from Pacific to Tukwila, Washington.


Hoops were used to deliver orders to passing trains
Puget Sound Electric Railway, the Interurban Line near Tacoma

The PSE began operations on September 25, 1902[2] with a line that started in downtown Tacoma, ran along Pacific and Puyallup Avenues, followed the course of present day Pacific Highway through Fife and to Milton, turned southeast towards Puyallup and paralleled the path of today's SR 167 through Pacific, Algona, Auburn, Kent, Orillia and Renton, then into Seattle on its own dedicated right-of-way, via South Park, from there running on surface streets to the area near Pioneer Square, where it interchanged with other interurbans in the area.

Power was supplied via overhead wire in urban areas, and third rail in rural areas. The third rail was the cause of several accidents throughout the PSE's operations which involved livestock or people being electrocuted, and in some cases dead cows caused accidents involving the trolleys themselves.

The railroad ran for 26 years, until competition from trucks, buses, and automobiles on an ever-expanding road network, as well as the steam railroads led to reduced ridership in the early 1920s and in 1928, a decision to shut down operations. Residents all along the line protested the decision, however, and the rails were not pulled up until 1930.[3]

It was headquartered in Kent, Washington.[4]

Second life[edit]

Portions of the PSE exist today as multi-use trails in Milton and linking Tukwila, Kent, Auburn, Algona, and Pacific in King County.[5] The City of Edgewood's portion is currently in planning stages, with construction slated to begin in the Summer of 2011.[6][7]


  1. ^ Perpetual Motion Pictures. The Seattle-Tacoma Railway: A Journey into the Past. Seattle, WA. 1996.
  2. ^ Crowley, Walt (September 19, 2000). "Interurban Rail Transit in King County and the Puget Sound Region". HistoryLink. Retrieved December 27, 2016. 
  3. ^ Perpetual Motion Pictures. The Seattle-Tacoma Railway: A Journey into the Past. Seattle, WA. 1996.
  4. ^ Wilma, David (March 2, 2003). "Interurban rail service between Seattle and Tacoma begins on September 25, 1902.". HistoryLink. Retrieved December 27, 2016. 
  5. ^ "Interurban Trail (South)". King County Parks.
  6. ^ "The Interurban Trail" (PDF). City of Edgewood.
  7. ^ "Work starts this summer on long-awaited Edgewood trail"