John C. Boykin Collection on the Seattle, Lakeshore & Eastern Railway, circa 1887-1996  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Boykin, John C.
John C. Boykin Collection on the Seattle, Lakeshore & Eastern Railway
circa 1887-1996 (inclusive)
3 boxes, (1.05 cubic feet)
Collection Number
Photographs and documents relating to the Seattle, Lakeshore & Eastern Railway
Museum of History & Industry, Sophie Frye Bass Library
Sophie Frye Bass Library
Museum of History & Industry
P.O. Box 80816
Seattle, WA
Telephone: 206-324-1126
Fax: 206-780-1533
Access Restrictions

The collection is open to the public by appointment.


Historical NoteReturn to Top

John C. Boykin was a railroad enthusiast who researched and collected materials related to the Seattle, Lakeshore & Eastern Railway for many years.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The mounted photographs include images of locomotives, passenger, baggage and freight cars, train depots, bridges, trestles and tracks. The original documents include a stock certificate and freight manifests for trips between Seattle, Bothell and Arlington, 1890-1892.

A secondary collection of reference materials collected by John Boykin during the 1980s and 1990s provides historical information on the Seattle, Lakeshore & Eastern Railway. It includes copies of newspaper clippings, magazine articles, reports and maps. The photocopies of business documents include annual reports and ledgers. A file of personal correspondence provides some background on the development of the collection

Historical BackgroundReturn to Top

The first settlers arrived in Seattle after arduous land and sea journeys. As industry rapidly developed across the region, transporting heavy freight such as coal and lumber was difficult and time-consuming without railroads. Shipping by sea to eastern markets in the United States required three months or more. By the 1870s a railroad connection was foremost in the minds of city developers. A federal land grant in 1869 authorized the Northern Pacific Railroad to cross the northern tier of states and territories. Seattle was a rapidly growing city with the best deep-water harbor in the Pacific Northwest, and civic leaders naturally assumed it would be the terminus for the new overland transportation route. In 1873, the Northern Pacific chose Tacoma instead as its western terminus.

Seattle attorney Thomas Burke (1849-1925) headed the effort to create an independent railroad connection between Seattle and the Canadian Pacific Railway. In 1884 he sent a subscription list to ten local investors, including David Denny (1832-1903), Thomas Minor (1844-1899), and Daniel H. Gilman (1845-1913.) Gilman traveled east to secure funding and returned in early 1885. The Seattle, Lakeshore & Eastern Railroad was incorporated on April 15, 1885. The railroad's first depot was constructed in downtown Seattle near the corner of Columbia Street and Western Avenue. Railroad Avenue was built soon after, forming a conduit of multiple rail lines along Seattle's Elliott Bay waterfront.

The Seattle, Lakeshore & Eastern line ran from downtown Seattle around the northern shores of Lake Union, then east of Lake Washington. By 1889 the railroad reached as far as Snoqualmie Falls, where it linked to a northern branch of the Canadian Pacific Railroad. Track was laid in Spokane for a line heading west, but the railroad never succeeded in crossing the Cascade Mountains. Due to the speculative nature of its financing, the company ran into management difficulties after seven years of operation. The transcontinental giant Northern Pacific Railway eventually absorbed the Seattle, Lakeshore & Eastern Railway.

In the 1950s, Railroad Avenue became the Alaskan Way highway along Elliott Bay. The Burke Gilman Trail is part of the original Seattle, Lakeshore & Eastern Railway line. The King County and Snoqualmie Valley Regional Trail system follows the old railroad bed past Duvall, through Carnation and Snoqualmie Falls, then continues east from North Bend as a cross-state trail.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Alternative Forms Available

View selections from the collection in digital format by clicking on the camera icons in the inventory below.

Restrictions on Use

The Museum of History & Industry is the owner of the materials in the Sophie Frye Bass Library and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from MOHAI before any reproduction use. The museum does not necessarily hold copyright to all of the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from the copyright owners.

Preferred Citation

John C. Boykin Collection on the Seattle, Lakeshore & Eastern Railway, Museum of History & Industry, Seattle

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

PhotographsReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
1/1 circa 1890
2016.81.2: Two men standing on Seattle, Lakeshore & Eastern railway drawbridge across Snohomish River
8 x 9.5 in.
circa 1890
2016.81.3: Locomotive and men on Seattle, Lakeshore & Eastern bridge across Snohomish River
7.5 x 9.5 in.
circa 1890
2016.81.4:  Seattle, Lakeshore & Eastern locomotive with passenger car stopped at Interbay yard
Morford, Chas. H. (photographer)
6.5 x 8 in.
circa 1890
1/5 circa 1890
1/6 circa 1890
2016.81.7: Seattle, Lakeshore & Eastern log carrying cars at Interbay yard
7.5 x 9.5 in.
circa 1890
2016.81.8: Seattle, Lakeshore & Eastern coal carrying car near Dravus Street, Interbay
5 x 8 in.
circa 1890
1/9 circa 1890
1/10 1887

DocumentsReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
1/11 1887
2016.81.12: Manifest for rail shipment from Seattle to Arlington
1882 January 12
2016.81.13: Way Bill for rail shipment from Seattle to Bothell Church
1890 January 17
2016.81.14: Manifest for rail shipment from Seattle to Bothell
1891 December 3
2016.81.15: Manifest for rail shipment from Seattle to Bothell
1891 April 27

Research materialsReturn to Top

2 boxes

Boxes 2 and 3 contain secondary collection research materials, collected by John Boykin over his years of research on the Seattle, Lakeshore & Eastern Railway.

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Railroad cars--American--Washington (State)--Seattle
  • Railroad locomotives--American--Washington (State)--Seattle
  • Railroads
  • Corporate Names :
  • Seattle, Lakeshore & Eastern Railway
  • Geographical Names :
  • United States--Washington (State)--Seattle
  • Form or Genre Terms :
  • Ephemera
  • Photographs