Early Wednesday morning Claire and I boarded the Coast Starlight line from Seattle’s King Street Station down to Portland, OR. The train ride was around four hours long and we were allowed a two-hour layover in Portland to grab some lunch. After the layover we headed back to Seattle. Our goal was to get idea of what Trails & Rails is about. Trails & Rails is an innovative partnership program between the National Park Service and Amtrak that provides rail passengers with educational opportunities about the history and geology of the landmarks they are visible on the ride to either Portland or Seattle. The Trails & Rails volunteer park rangers dedicate their entire day to teaching passengers and expressing their passion about the history of the area.
Steve and Bud were the two Trails & Rails rangers that accompanied us on the train on Wednesday. Steve was extremely passionate about the history of the area and he w
as quite funny as well. Bud seemed very well versed on the subject and he had a soulful voice. This program really fosters an appreciation of the Pacific Northwest’s natural and cultural heritage. It also promotes and informs passengers, especially ones that are not from the area, about National Parks in Washington and Oregon. On Wednesday we learned many interesting facts, especially about Mount St. Helens’ eruption and Auburn, WA and how it used to be called Slaughter, after Lt. William Slaughter, who died in a skirmish in 1855.
The Trails & Rails program operates on an assortment of train lines all over the country with more scheduled to come in the future. In this area Trails & Rails currently only operates on the Coast Starlight line but next year Trails & Rails may be operating on the Empire Builder which goes from Seattle to Havre, Montana.
~ Sophie, SCA Intern