Passenger Train Photo Gallery

Ferndale, Washington in the Mid-20th Century

By James E. Lancaster, PhD.

Copyright 2009. Unless otherwise noted, all photos are by the author.
Photos may not be used for any purpose without permission.

The watercolor painting at the top of the page, showing the southbound local mail and express train
stopped in Ferndale in the early 1950s, is by noted railroad artist Ernie Towler.

Most of the black and white photos in this gallery were taken with a Kodak Brownie camera that used 620 film. The quality varies greatly. The photos have been run through photoshop with varying results. The photos were taken between 1950 and 1952.

Locations mentioned in photo captions
(1950 aerial image from

In 1948 there were three daily passenger trains in each direction through Ferndale. The passenger trains were all heavyweights: two Puget Sounders (both ways in the morning and evening) and a local mail and express train (north in the morning; south in the late afternoon). Only the local stopped at Ferndale.

In June 1950 the Puget Sounders were replaced by streamlined, thrice daily, five-car Internationals

The E7 Era

A southbound International approaches the Second Street crossing in 1950. The photo was taken from the loading dock (Location 5). Ferndale Grain (Location 4) is behind the observation car. The red roofed building at the right is part of Ferndale Builder's Supply (Location 3) and the Southern Pacific boxcar is spotted at Pynor Feed (Location 2).
(William Lancaster photo using an Argus C-3 camera.)

The observation car of the northbound Afternoon International passes the mail crane at the north end of the depot platform. A long southbound freight train is on the passing siding.

The northbound local mail and express train went through Ferndale about noon. Its normal heavyweight consist was an E7, a mail-baggage car with a 30-foot RPO apartment, three baggage-express cars and a coach. Tom Yanke had a contract with the Post Office to move mail between the depot and the post office, which were about three blocks apart. He would park his Chevy pickup truck at the north end of the platform and, after the mail train stopped, move it to the RPO door to get the first-class mail, usually one pouch. He also gave them a pouch. Then he would move a few feet to the baggage door of the same car to get the sacks of other classes of mail. On a typical day this would mean 6-10 sacks but at Christmas sometimes two to three times that much. 

This process was repeated, but in reverse order, in the evening about 6:00 p.m. when the local returned on its southbound run. The outgoing mail load was usually somewhat less than the incoming load. 

Mail is loaded from Tom Yanke's truck into the RPO of Train 359, the southbound local. The Milwaukee Road reefer behind E7 500 is in the consist of a freight train waiting on the passing siding. The depot (Location 1) is at the far left.
(This photo was used as the basis for the painting at the top of the page.)

On another evening E7 505 brings the local passenger train to a stop.

An A-B set of F7s is on the local. The train is stopped at the depot. 

The train with the F7s is approaching the Second Street crossing. Note the sleeper on the rear - probably a deadhhead movement. The Santa Fe box car at the right is spotted at Pynor Feed. This photo was taken from the loading dock.

This grainy late afternoon photo shows a southbound local behind E7 510 stopped at the depot, which is on the opposite side of the train. On this particular evening one of the baggage-express cars is ahead of the mail-baggage car. This was somewhat unusual.

The GP7 Era

By late 1951 or early 1952 boiler-equipped GP7s had replaced the E7s on the local mail train.

A young railfan poses as the engineer of the southbound local during a stop in Ferndale.

The rear of the northbound local mail and express train stretches beyond the Washington Street crossing due to two extra heavyweight sleepers on the rear. In the distance, beyond the station, Tom Yanke's pickup truck can be seen on the station platform as mail is unloaded. For more of this train see the next photo.

The local is getting read to depart for Vancouver, BC behind GP7 602 as Tom Yanke drives his pickup down the platform with a load of mail for the Ferndale Post Office. Earlier that morning he had hung a first class pouch on the mail crane for pickup by the southbound Morning International. The RPO clerk also through a pouch onto the station platform.

On another day GP7 601 is in charge of a ten car local. On the headend are three extra baggage-express cars - two Canadian Pacific and one Southern Pacific.

The extra headend cars pass the mail crane as the train accelerates away from the depot.

Two additional cars are on the rear of the train behind the normal coach. The Kelly-Farquahr frozen food plant (Location 7) is visible to the right of the last car.

It's dusk in Ferndale as Geep 600 pulls away from the depot and crosses Washington Street. Normally GP7s ran with their long hood forward on the local passenger train but on this particular evening the short hood is leading. The mail-baggage car is also reversed from its normal orientation with the mail apatment at the forward end of the car. The second car is a Milwaukee Road baggage-express car, certainly an uncommon sight on this train. This photo, and the one following of the same train, were taken from the loading dock (Location 5).

The seven-car train crosses Second Street. On the rear is another foreign road car, a Southern Pacific harriman-style horse-express car.

Official Cars

Sometimes the local would have an official car on the rear of the train. This photo shows the rear half of car A26.

This photo by Gary Thompson shows the rear platform of A26.

On another day official car A28 is on the rear of the southbound local.

Here is a side view of official car A28.

The local was discontinued in 1956, shortly before my family moved to Seattle.

There are many more photos of trains in Ferndale and Bellingham on the follwing web pages:

Ferndale Home Page

Freight Train Photo Gallery

Bellingham Photo Gallery

Jim Lancaster

Tustin, CA

Created: April 16, 2009