Saturday, May 01, 2010
This isn't the first time I've featured the railroad and it won't be the last. Trains only run on a few tens of miles of Puget Sound's beaches, a small fraction of the total, but the railroad grade and its accompanying seawall stand out in a way that a thousand miles of smaller, residential-scale bulkheads do not. The seawall, which is about 100 years old, is elegant - most of it a rock wall with a slight batter that rises 5 feet or so above the highest tides ever recorded around here. Occasional streams emerge through culverts built into the structure. Occasional landslides flow over the tracks and eventually end up on the beach (although the amount of sediment reaching this beach must be far, far lower than historical levels). Of course, there isn't much beach anymore. What there once was is now buried beneath the double track mainline. The only upper beach remaining along the 26 miles stretch from Seattle to Everett is at the occasional stream deltas and cuspate spits that extend seaward of the tracks.