Tag Archives: Station

Georgetown Steam Plant Visit

Near the north end of Boeing Field is the old Georgetown Steam Plant.  This is an old power station that was decommissioned decades ago.  I had been curious to see what it was like inside.  I had thought about going a while back and then the pandemic put paid to any visits for a couple of years.  The opening hours have now been established and they open on the second Saturday of each month.  That proved problematic for a while as that clashed with travels or other plans.  Consequently, I put the first opening in my calendar and tried my best to make sure I could go.

The Saturday came around and it was a gloriously sunny day.  This shouldn’t matter much since I was going to be indoors but it does make for a nicer day to be out anyway.  It was due to open at 10am so I decided to get there right at the beginning.  Turned out this was a good idea.  The parking lot was already looking pretty full and more were arriving.  I have no idea why it was so busy.  Sure, a nice day encourages people to go out but how many people see a sunny day and think “let’s go to a decommissioned power plant”?  I asked a docent whether this was normal.  He said they normally get about 30 people over the day and they had four tours of 50 people booked plus those, like me, that didn’t take the tour!

The power plant was built at the beginning of the 20th century.  It had three steam turbines of different vintages, powers and technologies.  The first two are vertical and the third horizontal.  These are fed from a large boiler room.  There are balconies with the control electronics which you can see but are not yet accessible.  I was happy to let the tours concentrate people in various locations which meant it was quieter wherever they weren’t so I could wander around casually.

I had figured wide angle was going to be my friend in the building so had a wide zoom and a fisheye zoom with me.  I used the fish a little initially but soon concluded it wasn’t that useful to me so I swapped it out with the 70-200 to allow me to get some detail shots of the machinery.  Older machinery has a lot of character with polished metals, complex mechanisms and multiple gauges.  It is a great look in to a bygone era.

These shots are few of the overall layout of the building.  There are some details from within the plant that will have their own posts to come so I can focus on them.  I don’t want to try and squeeze it all in to one post and lose some of the curious elements in the larger story.

Mukilteo Rail Station

In all of my visits to the waterfront at Mukilteo, it would have been neglectful if I hadn’t had a quick poke around at the railroad station.  This is for Sounder commuter rail trains to Seattle and is across from the new ferry terminal.  It will be interesting to see whether WSDOT’s Amtrak Cascades trains stop there in the future to connect with the ferries but currently they do not (and, at the time of writing, the Cascades services north of Seattle are suspended anyway.)

The station is not that old since the Sounder service has only been around since the 2000s.  Consequently, it is a nicely thought out design rather than an old station that has been upgraded.  It includes some artwork with a local theme with stone sculptures of local boat designs.  A footbridge takes you over the tracks to the far platforms.  I doubt I will ever have the need to use it but it was fun to look around on a quiet weekend.

Aldeburgh Lifeboat

Our UK trip had a bit of an RNLI feel to it.  We spent some time at the Bembridge lifeboat station as showed up here and here.  When we got to Aldeburgh, it turned out that they also had a lifeboat station.  It was quite a modern facility and very different to the Bembridge station.  Bembridge has a boathouse with a slipway straight in to the water.  Aldeburgh has a trailer mounted boat with a tractor unit to take it down across the shingle to the water’s edge.

The building has space for the boat on one side and the tractor on the other.  There is also an inshore boat.  The facility seems to be pretty modern with some nice space for the crew to keep their equipment and change when they need to go into service.  It was a lot quieter than the Bembridge station with only the occasional visitor but worth a look if you happen to be on this part of the Suffolk coast.

Snoqualmie Historic Trains

Snoqualmie has an active historic railroad.  While we were at the falls, a couple of times we saw a tourist train running along the opposite side of the falls taking visitors on a trip.  We never got too close to the train itself while we were there but we did walk past one of the stations.  It was a nicely restored building and contained some exhibits on the old services that used to operate there.

Also, parked out of the back was an old locomotive.  It wasn’t going anywhere anymore but it did provide a great example to the visitors of the sort of steam loco that used to operate.  Now it was possible to get up close and look at the amazingly complex mechanisms it included.  Just outside town was another exhibit.  This was a snow clearing machine for the railroad.  Rather than a plow, it had a cutting head mounted on the front of the vehicle and a blower that could throw the snow in either direction as required.  This example had been rebuilt a number of times prior to retirement but now it sat by the road for visitors to check out.  (Being a black vehicle on a high sunny day meant it was also a pain to photograph!)

Hydro Power!

Snoqualmie Falls may be impressive but they would be even more so if there weren’t a diversion of a lot of the water.  There are two hydroelectric power stations at the Falls.  The original station is built into the Falls themselves.  Water is taken off at one side and drops down to some turbines before being ejected alongside the base of the falls.  The exiting water can be seen from above.

The second station was built a few years later and has been expanded since.  Water is ducted around the Falls to a holding pond where it then enters some pipes that run it down the side of the hill to a turbine hall.  The hall has been replaced and expanded relatively recently but the style has been kept in keeping with the original.  The pipes also look like they have been replaced because they looked quite new.  As we walked across them, it was hard to imagine just how much power was flowing within.

Portland Station

I took a trip to Portland for work.  Rather than drive, I took the train down.  It wasn’t as quick but it was a far more relaxing way to travel.  With wifi on the train and no need to pay attention to where we were going, I could get on with things or, occasionally I assure you, stare out of the window at the scenery.  A lot of the journey was along the shoreline and it was very pretty.  (They are building a more direct route to bypass some of this which will reduce the journey time but probably make it a lot less attractive.)

I arrived at Portland at the Amtrak station.  It was a rather striking building.  A lot of the older stations are more architecturally individual as they were built at a time when railways were competing for business.  This one made me think of a European style.  For some reason, it made me think of Germany.  I can’t quite pin down why but there was something Germanic about the design.

I arrived in good weather but didn’t have time to get a shot.  The following morning things were rather murky but, when I came back for my trip home, the skies had cleared and I grabbed a few shots.  I rather like the message on the tower.  Pretty clear what they are driving at!

Just Not Quite the Right Spot

As I was heading to the tower for my visit, I decided to check out a spot that I had read about for photography.  The Airtrain Terminal 2 station has open ends that provide a view of the runways and taxiways.  You can get a view of the operations which is quite good.  However, you are looking out at each end.  The middle of the view is obscured by the terminal buildings – at least for now until demolition takes them away to be replaced with something new.  (Supposedly, the new building will include a viewing terrace!)

Unfortunately, some of the most interesting moments take place in the obscured area.  Rotations for takeoff and touchdowns for landing can be just out of sight.  This is unfortunate.  Consequently, this is not a spot I shall try much but it does provide a slightly different view of things at SFO which is at least worth a try.  Reverse operations were in effect so I might want to see how it is when things are operating the other way.

St Pancras

C59F0156-Pano.jpgWhen railways were first being developed, the companies that built them were very competitive in creating terminal stations that would impress. Sadly, over the years many of them were knocked down and redeveloped. Thankfully, not all of them were destroyed and now the approach is to take the existing infrastructure and use it as the basis for a modern facility.

C59F0178.jpgSt Pancras in London is a great example. I used to use it in the late 90s and early part of the 21st century when it was the terminal for Midland Mainline. At that time, it was not a terribly busy station. It had the original hotel fronting the station and the roof structure over the platforms. It had an air of faded glory at that point.

C59F0174.jpgThen the big changes came. Pancras was chosen to be the terminus for the extension of the channel tunnel rail link. A major rebuild was started that involved the new high speed lines coming in, the addition of the international facilities, opening up the lower level of the station, rebuilding the Thameslink station and generally turning the place into something far more impressive. Most of this took place after we had left London so, when we were back, I was interested to see how things had changed. Also, Nancy had never been to Pancras before so I thought she would like the architecture.

C59F0154.jpgThe hotel fronting Euston Road is still as it always appeared. It is a fantastic gothic structure and something that is probably worth exploring if you have the chance. Inside, the roof has been beautifully cleaned up. The clocks are also really cool. There are statues around the concourse too including one of the poet John Betjemen who was instrumental in a campaign to save the station.

C59F0177.jpgThe lower level redevelopment is very impressive. This area used to be a storage location but now there is retail and dining on a far larger scale which should suit the significant increase in customers with the Eurostar business as well as the new commuter services that make use of the high speed link. Of course, there are also the customers for services on the Midland routes. The changes are impressive and are connected with e overall redevelopment of the Kings Cross area of which more will come.

Davis Station

wpid9317-IMG_1841.jpgEarly one morning I found myself in Davis CA meeting a colleague to head to a meeting. I picked him up at the station and arrived a few minutes ahead of time. Davis has a cool station building. I didn’t know anything about it so hadn’t come prepared. The trusty iPhone was all I had with me so here is an iPhone shot of the station in the early light.

Seattle Union Station

wpid5590-AU0E5556.jpgThe main station in Seattle is King Street Station.  It is served by the Coaster commuter trains and the Cascades service that runs from Oregon up to Vancouver in British Columbia.  What I didn’t know is that there used to be another station nearby.  Union Station ceased to have rail service many years ago and deteriorated over time.  However, as part of a redevelopment program in the area, the building has been restored and now is part of a larger development area.

wpid5592-AU0E5568-Edit.jpgInside the station is a main hall that is really quite impressive.  It does not appear to be terribly busy.  A few office workers would transit through but a bunch of other people seemed to be hanging out inside since it was warmer than outside!  I couldn’t resist taking a few shots and also had a go at a 360 pano to boot.