Bellingham, WA (BEL)
Amtrak, intercity and local buses use the Fairhaven Station, which is just a short walk to a cruise terminal serving vessels headed for the San Juan Islands, British Columbia and Alaska.
401 Harris Avenue
Bellingham, WA 98225
Annual Station Ridership (2016): 50,896
- Facility Ownership: Port of Bellingham
- Parking Lot Ownership: Port of Bellingham
- Platform Ownership: Port of Bellingham
- Track Ownership: BNSF Railway
For information about Amtrak fares and schedules, please call 1-800-USA-RAIL (1-800-872-7245).
Renovated from a vintage warehouse in 1995, the brick Fairhaven Station in Bellingham is also used by Greyhound Lines and Whatcom Transportation Authority buses. The facility sits across the tracks from the Bellingham Cruise Terminal, serving a passenger ferry to the San Juan Islands and Victoria, as well as Alaska Marine Highway ferryliner service to Prince Rupert, B.C., and Skagway, Alaska.
The first Bellingham connection to the Great Northern Railroad in 1890 crossed the tidal flats of Bellingham Bay. After filling in the land and relocating the tracks in 1902, the railroad built a brick depot with a wood-shingled roof; but this depot burned a little over 20 years later. This was replaced with a single-story brick structure, built by local architect F. Stanley Piper. A Spanish tile roof blends with ornamental Corinthian capitals; the entrance has three large archways. The interior had wrought-iron chandeliers hanging from a high, beamed ceiling. Great Northern used this station until 1969, at which point Burlington Northern took over the facility. Amtrak used this station until itsPacific International service was discontinued in 1981. The BNSF utilizes the former station for its switching operations.
When George Vancouver first surveyed the area in 1792, he named the bay for Sir William Bellingham, the controller of the storekeeper’s account for the British Royal Navy and the man who oversaw and provisioned Vancouver’s historic explorations. Before European settlement came in 1854, the native peoples had occupied this territory for thousands of years, and native culture continues in the region today.
The Fraser Canyon Gold Rush of 1858 brought thousands from northern California, eager to seek their fortunes or trade with those who did. From a small mill town, the Bellingham Bay area transformed, for a brief boom in the summer of 1858, into a bustling seaport and base town for the Whatcom Trail leading to the Fraser Canyon gold fields. At that time, there were four small settlements close together on Bellingham Bay: Sehome, Whatcom, Fairhaven and Bellingham.
During the Gold Rush, Whatcom (from “noisy waters,” the name of the native settlement on the creek at the bay) had more people living on its beach than in the rest of the state altogether. Today, that neighborhood forms Bellingham’s Old Town. Sehome was where a large coal mining operation ran from the 1850s until 1955, when the extensive mines, with tunnels as deep as 1,200 feet, finally closed. The Bellingham settlement was originally Unionville, from another mining company that went bust. It was incorporated into Fairhaven—today’s waterfront district—in the 1890s. Fairhaven prospered from the attentions of Nelson Bennett, a developer who had made Tacoma into a city. In a move to reinvent themselves during the depression of the 1890s, the residents of all the settlements decided to incorporate under one name, Bellingham.
In 1891, thinking to celebrate a rail connection to Canada that would revive the town, one of the three railroads in the locale, the Bellingham Bay and British Columbia Railroad hosted a major town reception for the representatives of the Canadian Pacific (CP) Railway on Railroad Avenue. Several thousand people assembled; the fire department was to create an arch of water over the train as it stopped at the terminal and the dignitaries disembarked. This was to be done using hoses from either side of the track. One brigade shot off their hoses prematurely and, not to be outdone, the other side let fly before time as well. The representatives of the Canadian Pacific disembarked into the middle of full-fledged water fight between the fire companies, to their considerable soggy dismay. Despite many apologies after this debacle, the railroad never did manage to connect to the CP.
The proximity to the Strait of Juan de Fuca and to the Inside Passage to Alaska kept the locale in shipping and canning after logging failed and Bellingham became a city on October 27, 1903. The city has in recent years focused on a renaissance to breathe new life into the well-preserved Fairhaven historical district, touting the small city as a quiet place in contrast to the large nearby metropolitan areas.
Amtrak provides ticketing and baggage services at the Bellingham facility, which is served by four daily trains.
Station Building (with waiting room)
- 52 Short Term Parking Spaces
Number of spaces available for Amtrak passengers to park for the day only, not overnight. Parking fees may apply.
- Accessible Payphones
- Accessible Platform
Accessible platform is a barrier-free path from the drop-off area outside the station to the station platform.
- Accessible Restrooms
- Accessible Ticket Office
- Accessible Waiting Room
- Accessible Water Fountain
- Baggage Storage
Baggage storage is an area where passengers may store their bags, equivalent to "left luggage" in Europe. A storage fee may apply.
- Bike Boxes
- Checked Baggage
- Dedicated Parking
- Enclosed Waiting Area
- Help With Luggage
- High Platform
A high platform is a platform at the level of the vestibule of the train, with the exception of Superliners.
Self-service lockers are available in select stations for passenger baggage storage.
- Long-term Parking Spaces
Number of spaces available for Amtrak passengers to park overnight. Parking fees may apply.
- Parking Attendant
- Pay Phones
- Shipping Boxes
- Ski Bags
- Wheelchair Lift
Wheelchair lift is a platform-mounted lift for loading passengers from low platforms onto trains that do not have onboard ramps.
For passengers who cannot walk far or at all, we offer a wheelchair to move the passengers around within the station. At some stations this may be a battery-powered people mover. The wheelchair or other types of movers must not leave the station or be moved onto the train.