Railroads connect past, present and future in the Pacific Northwest. In the late nineteenth century, the railroad was a new way of connecting people and products—much like the Internet is today. Early Washingtonians were rich in timber and other resources, but they lacked a way to connect these resources to paying customers.
Connecting Washington to the eastern United States meant incredible opportunities for jobs and economic development. Therefore, people, businesses and governments worked hard to make their railroad dream a reality.
Today, their hard work continues to pay off as PSAP connects products from Washington and all over the U.S. to international markets, creating jobs and economic prosperity.
1889: Puget Sound and Grays Harbor (PS&GH) built a railroad within 10 miles of the Pacific Ocean. This line stretched from Kamilche to Montesano and was a small railroad used primarily to transport timber products. Realizing the enormous potential of ocean shipping routes, Northern Pacific purchased property in Ocosta, Washington. Their plan was to extend the railroad to the harbor and transfer cargo to ships, thereby connecting buyers and sellers in the United States, Canada, China, Japan and other countries throughout the Western Hemisphere.
1891: Tacoma, Olympia and Grays Harbor (TO&GH) purchased the portion of Puget Sound and Grays Harbor between Elma and Montesano. By the end of 1891, TO&GH was operating trains between Tacoma and Montesano. Also around this period, Northern Pacific began to worry about their purchase of land in Ocosta because it was marshy, there was a small population and the railroad received little public support.
1892: Citizens of Aberdeen were frustrated with Northern Pacific’s choice to build a line to Ocosta, hoping instead that the railroad would be built through their well-established community. In protest, Aberdeen turned down all financial proposals from Northern Pacific and decided to build the line themselves. They planned to sell the line to Northern Pacific for operation once it was completed.
1895: Building the railroad to Aberdeen was a community effort. Local companies donated supplies to build the lines. Citizens were given time off from school to work during the weekdays, and the entire town helped on weekends. The line was completed in 1895 to the east edge of Aberdeen, and the first train rolled in to the sound of a welcoming brass band.
1898: Northern Pacific acquired all lines in the area and had full access to Grays Harbor. A few years later, Grays Harbor was connected to three major intercontinental rail lines.
1970: Northern Pacific and all lines into Grays Harbor merged into Burlington Northern.
1997: Burlington Northern sold the line into Grays Harbor to ParkSierra Railgroup, which began operating the railroad under the name Puget Sound & Pacific Railroad.
2002: RailAmerica was the next to acquire these lines.
2012—Present: Genesee & Wyoming purchased the rail lines into Grays Harbor. Today, Puget Sound & Pacific includes lines from Centralia to Grays Harbor and north into Bremerton and Bangor.
With more than 100 years of history, there have been numerous owners, acquisitions and additions to railroads in the Pacific Northwest. Today, PSAP freight includes forest products, scrap metal, grains, aluminum, chemicals and military supplies. It is considered a military strategic railroad thanks to its direct connection between Puget Sound and the Pacific Ocean.