The Nitty-Gritty of Lynden

Station plot, CMSt.P&P Railroad, of Lynden, Washington, circa 1922. From the archives of Cascade Rail Foundation,

Milwaukee Road's facilities in Lynden were surprisingly simple. Above is a station plat from around 1922, a decade after the railroad assumed control of the former Bellingham Bay & British Columbia, and four years after it became part of the CMST.P&P. Click on the image to view it in a legible size.

The plat is from the on-line archives of Pacific Northwest Railroad Archives, a Burien-based non-profit that marshals the resources and volunteers of historical societies for Milwaukee Road, Great Northern and Northern Pacific in the northwest for a common goal of preservation, largely of paper items such as timetables, company documents, maps and dispatcher train sheets. Much of the material was donated by private individuals, which have also donated their photographic collections as well. I can't say enough good about this organization, and encourage anyone with a history of northwest railroading to donate money, time, and/or their collections to the PNRA and the closely-affiiliated Cascade Rail Foundation, which concentrates on Milwaukee Road in the Northwest.

I urge you to check out their primary websites:

But back to the station plot. . .

Then as now, Lynden was firmly established as an agricultural community. The railroad dead-ended 4 1/2 miles west of the mainline connection at Hampton. Street names on the 1922 plat do not necessarily correspond with those of present-day Lynden.  Two tracks stub-ended west of Olive Street (today's Depot Street), serving a lumber yard, two creameries, and a farmer's co-op. East of Olive street, on the south side, was located BB&BC's passenger depot and baggage building, apparently with a covered platform extending east, served by a spur track. . According to the plat, updated several times, this property was deeded to Milwaukee Land Company, the railroad's real estate subsidary, in 1954. Today it is the site of the old Columbia Cold Storage facility, presumably constructed not long after the property was sold and the original depot torn down.

It would appear that the BB&BC right of way was originally laid down the middle of Pine Street, at some point vacated leaving only the railroad. 

Moving east, between Fishtrap and Park Streets, is another piece of Milwaukee-owned property, occupied for many years by a wood-framed fruit packing shed owned in its later years by Seabrook Farms. This building lasted through the end of Milwaukee Road operations, but by the mid-1980s it had been replaced by a concrete cold storage warehouse on both north and south side of tracks, served by a two-car spur off the north track which still sporadically ships mechanical refrigerator loads.  The Seabrook spur, apparently, was the only location offering a "run around" siding with switches at both ends connecting to the mainline.

In the 1922 plat, land north of the tracks between Olive and Park streets appeared to be residential in nature; the land north and east of Fishtrap street remained largely un-developed, a field or park of some sort until the cold storage plant was developed in the 1980s.

East of Park street on the north side was located the two-story concrete Lynden Christian School building, which remains today, repurposed. South of the tracks in 1922 was located a wye track, apparently with a parallel industrial spur on the east side. On the inside of the wye was a 50'X100' freight house and loading dock. The west leg of the wye had disappeared several years before 1974, when the land was turned over to Milwaukee Land Co. for disposition. This resulted in the freight depot's demolition and a small fabricated frame depot installed as a replacement to the east of east leg of the wye.

Several businesses were located on the wye including a small Carnation creamery, a Dreyer's Ice Cream plant, and a pair of oil distributors. To the east of the wye, west of Mill Street (today's Nooksack Avenue), a single spur ran to the west; Standard Oil and Lynden Fruit Growers Association were shippers located on this spur.

NEXT: Lynden in the final years of Milwaukee Road Operations


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  4. To fill in the blanks a bit: Pine Street in East Lynden existed only on a map. The railroad got the space instead. The lot east of 1st St. (Park Street) north of the tracks was originally Hawley's Park. After WWII the Christian School was built. The lot north of the tracks west of 1st (where the cold storage building is now) had two small farms- Clarence Summers and Henry Hamstra. North of them the land was owned by first by the Scofield family, then by Lawrence Asam (who married Nellie Scofield). They only cut down the trees in the south part of their lot. The rest remained old growth fir- when Lawrence Asam died in 1939 their land became the Lynden City Park/YMCA.

    At some point the main train depot building was moved from the Depot Road location to the SE corner of 1st and Pine, where it stayed until the mid 70's. Then I think it was moved to another location (that original growth wood is valuable). Don't know if it is still around today.


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