So, Whats Up With The Ballard Beaver?

It’s that time of year when the Ballard Beaver comes to life! Yes businesses along Shilshole avenue actually got an old train and some cars and set them up on a disused rail line where a few times a year they move empty train cars from 45th NW to Market street and back.

Why you might ask, well they did it because if there is an active rail line then the city can’t turn this section of the tracks into the Burke Gillman trail and connect it thru to Golden Gardens park. If they did then the businesses along Shilshole would lose their free parking (they park on the tracks) and the cyclists and walkers would have a trail not in the street.


So as fucking odd as that is in and of itself, there is another fun bit. The guys who volunteer to play Engineer Choo Choo and drive this train back and forth don’t need to keep any schedule because, well because the cars they are moving are empty, so they do it when they like. Typically weekend mornings and at 10pm on nights when they can’t beat their wives.

This has two repercussions, the first is that they get to tow all the cars that park on the tracks to go to the Sunday farmers market, and second that they get to blow the fucking train horn every two seconds from 9pm to about 11pm and sound a loud bell constantly. It is literally so loud that it can be heard on Queen Anne and Magnolia and where I live it’s so loud that you can’t hear the TV over it.

I asked Brakeman Bill what was up with the fucking horn and he, with his thumbs under the suspenders of his blue and white stripped train guy uniform, told me that federal railroad regulations require that they sound the horn 5 times at any intersection before entering and after leaving and since the whole run has an intersection every block, they basically just sound it non stop.

I asked why they need to move the depth cars at night and he said “because that’s when I have free time”.

I hate that train and may accidentally fill the horn with cement.

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