The Edmonds flag stop | History Files

By Tim Raetzloff | Sep 07, 2018

I belong to several historic groups. Several are national, but information about Edmonds sometimes turns up there.

One of the groups is GNGoat – “Rocky” the mountain goat was the symbol of the Great Northern Railway that ran through Edmonds. The group of fans of the railroad – which no longer exists – are members of the GNGoat group.

Recently one member uploaded old Great Northern timetables. Another member commented on the timetables, and he had a question. Some of the depots in the Cascade Division or the Great Northern Railway were marked with an “s,” and some with an “f.”

Edmond was one of the depots listed with an “f” timetable, in effect in 1948. It turns out that the “f” stands for flag stop. Flag stop means that the train would only stop at the depot if a flag signal asked them to.

It wasn’t a place where the train always stopped. Those were the depots marked with an “s.”

In addition to Edmonds, Monitor, Chumstick, Winton, Merritt, Berne, Grotto, Baring, and Reiter were flag stops. Chumstick, Berne and Reiter don’t exist anymore. The train doesn’t stop at any of the other locations today.

The old depot, in woeful condition, still stands at Winton; I don’t think any of the others still exist.

Edmonds was a second-class depot to the railroad, at best. Even more surprising to compare today are the depots designated with an “s.” Those were the regular stops.

Cashmere, Dryden, Peshastin, Leavenworth, Scenic, Skykomish, Index, Gold Bar, Sultan, Monroe, Snohomish, and Everett were regular stops.

The Skykomish and Monroe depots still exist, but aren’t used as railroad stops. One is a hair salon, and the other is museum. Leavenworth and Everett are still Amtrak stops, as is Edmonds.

If this had been a timetable from 1900 it might not have been as shocking, but this timetable is from 1948. Who would have thought that Peshastin and Dryden, or Gold Bar, Index, and Skykomish would have been more important stops on the railroad than Edmonds?

Times have certainly changed.

Today six Amtrak trains a day stop in Edmonds. On weekdays, eight Sounder commuter trains stop in Edmonds. Everett has as many trains a day as Edmonds. Leavenworth gets two Amtrak 2 trains a day. Those are the only depots from the 1948 time able that still have passenger rail service.

In 1948, 12 depots between Seattle and Wenatchee had regular passenger service; nine had flag stops. Of those, three regular stops still exist, and Leavenworth had to lobby heavily to get its rail service restored after years of no service.

One flag stop still has rail service. At least one of the regular stops from 1948 doesn’t exist anymore. Three of the flag stops don’t exist any more. The rest of the flag stops may not have 1,000 people between them. One reason is that rail service stopped.

Edmonds now has a population bigger than any of the towns except Everett. It is easy to forget that it wasn’t always so. It is easy to forget that a few of those locations once had bigger populations than Edmonds and were more valuable to the railroad.


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