Edmonds, WA (EDM)
Located on the eastern shore of Puget Sound, the Modernist 1956 depot is one component of a larger multimodal complex that includes Sounder commuter rail, buses and ferry service.
211 Railroad Avenue
Edmonds, WA 98020
Annual Station Ridership (2016): 31,389
- Facility Ownership: BNSF Railway
- Parking Lot Ownership: Central Puget Sound Regional Transit Authority
- Platform Ownership: BNSF Railway
- Track Ownership: BNSF Railway
For information about Amtrak fares and schedules, please call 1-800-USA-RAIL (1-800-872-7245).
Located on the eastern shore of Puget Sound, the Edmonds Amtrak station is one component of a larger multimodal complex that serves the residents of Snohomish County. The town is on the route of the Empire Builder, which crosses the northern Great Plains and Rocky Mountains to link Chicago and Seattle, as well as the Amtrak Cascades which connect Vancouver, British Columbia with Seattle and Portland. In addition, Edmonds is a stop on the Sounder commuter rail’s Everett-Seattle line, and is served by local and regional busses operated by Community Transit. To the north of the station building, Washington State provides ferry service across the sound to Kingston.
On July 8, 2011, a ceremony attended by the mayor, county executive, a state senator, Federal Transit Administration (FTA) officials, Sound Transit board members and other regional and local leaders was held to celebrate improvements to the multimodal center. Although planning for a new facility began in the early 1990s, implementation was delayed by a lack of funding and numerous design revisions. In 2009, the city decided to pursue a scaled-down $12.9 million project that would provide Sounder commuters with better facilities while also enhancing connections between the various modes of transportation in the downtown core. Approximately $2 million was obtained through federal grant programs while the remaining $11 million was provided by Sound Transit. The transit agency, which serves a district stretching over parts of King, Pierce, and Snohomish Counties, is financed through voter-approved local option taxes including a 0.9 percent sales tax.
A new east-bound platform was added south of the station for Sounder commuters. It includes shelters to protect passengers from inclement weather as they wait for the arrival of the train. Between the Amtrak station and the ferry terminal is a transit center with three bus bays and two passenger shelters. The area includes bright lighting, bicycle parking and lockers, attractive landscaping and an underground stormwater drainage system that prevents flooding in the station area.
Future plans call for a second track to be added by BNSF in order to ease freight and passenger rail congestion through the town. The second track will allow for a new west-bound platform, as well as an extension of the east-bound platform north of the station building. Between the ferry terminal and the bus loading zone, a piece of public art by Gerard Tsutakawa has been installed. Entitled “Standing Wave,” the bronze sculpture recalls the fluid movement of the sound as it is whipped by the winds into waves large and small. The water theme was further carried out into the railings and shelters along the Sounder platform. In the long-term, the multimodal facility is envisioned as the impetus for new mixed-use development that enables residents to work, shop and enjoy their leisure time without the need for a car.
The Amtrak station, opened by the Great Northern Railroad (GN) in 1956 to replace an earlier depot, stands at the center of Edmonds’ multimodal complex. Battered by the Great Depression and the strain of World War II, America’s railroads struggled to improve their infrastructure and attract customers in the 1950s. Passenger rail service also faced new competition from interstate highways and airports that were highly subsidized through federal transportation policies. Seeking to adapt, railroads such as the GN attempted to capture residents of the new suburbs. In a brochure published for the Edmonds station’s grand opening, the GN pointed out that it was “within easy driving distance for residents of Seattle’s north-end… [and contained] a spacious, fenced and well-lighted parking lot…”
To highlight its fresh approach to railroading and passenger comfort, the GN constructed a simple station with Modernist overtones. Like its forbearers across the country, its rectangular form is covered with a gabled roof that terminates in deep overhangs to shelter passengers from the elements as they wait outside. The waiting room occupies the north end while a freight room, indicated by a garage door and a few small windows placed high on the wall to discourage theft, is located on the south end. The wide doorway allowed crates and packages to be rolled on a cart between the train and the depot.
Modernist sensibilities, which emphasize crisp, clean lines and uncluttered interiors, can be found throughout the building. Although built of brick, the stretchers were laid in a stacked bond, meaning that instead of overlapping in the traditional manner, they were placed one on top of another in a tall column. This arrangement stresses the modular qualities of bricks and creates a rational grid pattern. Large expanses of floor-to-ceiling glass eliminate the boundaries between interior and exterior areas, while the lack of interior partitions creates a wide-open space that contains the waiting area and ticketing office. The gabled end of the waiting room appears as a dramatic wall of glass whose edges are framed in wood siding.
Sunlight streams through the windows and highlights the blond wood paneling on the walls and the ceiling, creating an interior that is warm and inviting. Linoleum tiles in classic black and white are laid in a typical pattern of the era in which a small square sits inside a larger one; the effect is bold and graphic, especially since the small and large squares are executed in opposing colors. Completing the period interiors are streamlined benches with chrome legs and arms and cushions upholstered in black leather-like fabric. A cabinet in the waiting room contains mementos of the GN, allowing visitors a glimpse into the region’s railroading heritage. No longer used for storage, the freight room is occupied by a model railroad club. The extensive layout reflects the topography of the nearby Cascade Range, and members put the locomotives to work during open houses.
Today considered a pleasant suburb of Seattle known for its small town charms and gorgeous waterfront setting framed by the nearby mountains, Edmonds was founded in 1876 by Canadian George Brackett. Originally home to the Suquamish American Indians who fished the waters of eastern Puget Sound, the area remained largely unsettled by European-Americans well into the mid-19th century. Brackett, similar to many of his contemporaries, came to the region in search of good stands of timber—particularly red cedar and fir—that could be processed and shipped down the coast to growing cities such as San Francisco. By 1876, Brackett had saved enough money to purchase 140 acres that were on a hill above the marshy shoreline.
Brackett was a non-stop dynamo who worked tirelessly to put his community on the map. He drained the nearby marshes; platted the land; started a logging business; built the first store; constructed a saw-mill; and won a post office for the village, thereby giving it official recognition from the federal government. Brackett also served as the first mayor in the 1890s, and allowed his barn to be used as the schoolhouse. Guiding the community for more than 5 decades, the town founder is now honored with a waterfront park near the ferry terminal.
Recognizing the power of railroads to transform a town’s business sector by connecting it to more distant markets, Brackett courted the Seattle and Montana Railroad as it worked its way from Seattle along Puget Sound and into Canada. In 1890, he sold hundreds of acres to a realty and investment company that planned to develop parcels along the tracks. The organization managed to construct a hotel, wharf, and office building before the financial panic of the early 1890s drove it out of business; the land reverted back to Brackett with the improvements.
In 1891, track-laying crews from the Great Northern descended on Edmonds from the north with the intention of reaching Seattle over the Seattle and Montana Railroad right-of-way, which it soon acquired. Two years later the route was completed and trains began to regularly serve the town.The GN is considered to have been America’s premier northern transcontinental rail route, running from St. Paul, Minnesota to Seattle. It was formed in 1889 by James J. Hill who orchestrated the merger of the St. Paul and Pacific Railroad with the St. Paul, Minneapolis, and Manitoba Railway. Hill retains a special place in railroad history and lore, and is known as the “Empire Builder.” Whereas most transcontinental lines were built with federal assistance in the form of land grants, the GN did not partake of this method.
Hill’s business acumen guided the planning and construction of the GN. Much of the upper Midwest and West was sparsely settled, so instead of racing across the continent, the GN developed the regions through which it travelled as it steadily moved toward the Pacific. This action helped settle the land and created a customer base. Hill the businessman actively sought to establish trade links with Asia, and the railroad is credited with putting sleepy Seattle on the map and transforming it into an important and powerful Pacific Ocean port.
With rail, steamship, and road connections, Edmonds blossomed into an important milling town, with a dozen factories between the shore and the railroad line churning out boards for construction and shingles and shakes for roofing and siding. Visitors often encountered trucks with huge tree trunks coming into town, and the mills’ smokestacks became a defining feature of the landscape. The plants remained a vital component of the local economy until the mid-20th century when dwindling lumber supplies resulted in the closure of associated businesses. The last shingle mill ceased operations in 1951.
Post-World War II, Edmonds was caught up in Seattle’s explosive growth, and is now considered a lovely and sought-after community in the greater metropolitan area. Downtown, which primarily consists of 2 and 3 story buildings, is noted for its boutiques, shops, and restaurants. Since 1957, the town’s juried arts festival—held over Father’s Day weekend—has attracted attendees from across the Pacific Northwest. Exhibitors range from nationally known fine and performing artists to local students. During the warmer months, Edmonds hosts a Farmers’ Market sponsored by the Edmonds-South Snohomish County Historical Society. Thousands of shoppers arrive early on Saturdays to pick through the fresh produce, breads, and cut flowers, as well as to explore craft displays.
Amtrak provides ticketing and baggage services at this station which is served by six daily trains. The Amtrak Cascades are primarily financed through funds made available by the Washington State Department of Transportation and the Oregon Department of Transportation.
Station Building (with waiting room)
- 0 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.