Friday, May 11, 2012
There's not much beach left below Woodway - the upscale bluff-top community just south of Edmonds. Once upon a time, this would have been a wonderful beach walk from Edmonds south through Woodway to Point Wells at all but the highest tides, but in the late 1800s the railroad chose the beach at the toe of the bluff as its route between Seattle and Everett and the beach got narrower.
Unfortunately, the bluffs along this stretch continued to fail magnificently long after the waves stopped cutting at their base, and landslides and busy rail corridors don't mix well. In the 1950s, Great Northern, faced with the high costs of keeping the Empire Builder out of Puget Sound, relocated the entire line away from the bottom of the cliff. The result was a long linear lagoon between the old grade at the bluff and the new causeway on the lower beach. The beachface has become a lagoon. Large slides in the 1970s filled portions of this trough, as did the 1997 Woodway landslide near Deer Creek.
Burlington Northern Santa Fe - the inheritor of the Great Northern - plans to eventually complete double tracking of this corridor (all the better to hall Powder River coal to Bellingham? - 2011 Wyoming, 2012 Black Thunder Mine). Meanwhile, the local police are kept busy enforcing BNSF's No Trespassing signs - shooing away teenagers trying to navigate Woodway Beach at high tide.