Northern Pacific Depot, 1968

We are in the memory garden now,” said Bob Heirman, trying to figure out exactly where the old depot stood on Lincoln Avenue, between Third and Fourth Streets.

“I fired out of this station many times over the years,” Bob reminisced, studying a copy of this month’s historic image. Bob was a fireman on the Northern Pacific Railroad — began working at 19 years of age, and retired when he turned 62.

The station was built in 1888 to host the arrival of the Seattle, Lake Shore & Eastern Railroad on its way to the Canadian border.

An obvious promotional image for the New Brunswick Hotel, located at 1208 First Street, captures the earliest view of the Snohomish Depot (circa 1890) built facing Railroad Street, now called Lincoln. [Click thumbnail to enlarge]

The independent line followed the route of many all across the country, merging into larger railroads; and in 1892, the Northern Pacific Railroad Company took over operation of the line serving Snohomish. The company’s distinctive red-and-black Monad logo was installed on the structure in the 1920s where it remained until the modest building was dismantled some 50 years later.

Allen Miller got the sign. He is a railroad historian and collector who writes in an email:
“N.P. Snohomish was quite a busy place in the early days. I recall reading some of Max King’s stories from the newspapers at the library where he mentions locomotives switching the yards at night, stock pens of cattle, and the helper engines on Maltby and Getchell’s hills working out of Snohomish. The depot was open 24 hours a day until 1915, when the cutoff to Everett, via the Great Northern Railroad, was placed into service.”


The structure shrunk over the years but was still in service when the historical image was captured in 1968. Its anticipated demise sparked the establishment of the Snohomish Historical Society the following year, but the depot could not be saved. Nor a second one across the river that served the Great Northern line.

On May 19, 2012, a link of the Centennial Trail that passes through town was dedicated. Now you can ride, walk, or roll, the historic route of the rails from downtown Snohomish to Arlington.

Think of it as trip through a memory garden.

Retired railroad fireman, Bob Heirman, is pictured sitting on the fence of the recently completed Centennial Trail link that passes alongside the new library. Best as Bob could tell, he would be sitting in the waiting room of the depot — something he rarely did, if ever, over his 53 years with the Northern Pacific Railroad.

Depot images courtesy Allen Miller

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Published in the Snohomish County Tribune, June 20, 2012.