WTD?

What’s the Deal With: The ‘Rail Trail Historic Site’ markers?

Signs of a museum that’s no more
October 5, 2022 at 5:45 a.m.
A Rail Trail Historic Site marker at Taylor Dock in Bellingham on July 16. The signs are informational remnants of the now-shuttered Bellingham Railway Museum that closed in 2020.
A Rail Trail Historic Site marker at Taylor Dock in Bellingham on July 16. The signs are informational remnants of the now-shuttered Bellingham Railway Museum that closed in 2020. (Frank Catalano/Cascadia Daily News)

By FRANK CATALANO
Business & Work Columnist

The small, numbered markers dotting Taylor Dock and the area around Bellingham Bay promise factoid enlightenment under the title “Rail Trail Historic Site.” 

“Reid Brothers Boiler Works built in 1912,” declares No. 5 at 10th Street and Douglas Avenue. Nearby, No. 9 notes the spot where “The Fairhaven Canning Company was built on pilings over the water at this site in 1897, became a PAF building.” 

Each has the logo of the Bellingham Railway Museum at the bottom. But visitors and newcomers inspired to stop by will find the collection once at 1320 Commercial St. in Bellingham is no longer there. 

The volunteer-operated museum opened in 2003 and featured area rail history, an electric model railroad, an exhibit of railroad lanterns and more. It permanently closed its doors in June 2020 after the pandemic began, reportedly failing to attract COVID relief funding. Its collection became destined for the Northwest Railway Museum in Snoqualmie, King County. 

However, scan the QR code on the remaining trail signs and you’ll be taken to the still-working museum website, which declares it “will be kept alive for posterity and saved as a piece of internet history.”


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