After the Phinney family sold to the city in 1900 the country estate they named Woodland Park, the Seattle Electric Company completed the trolley line around the lake and through the park.

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THROUGH ITS first decade, the 1890s, the Green Lake electric trolley line followed the grade of the abandoned logging railroad that nearly clear-cut the neighborhood in the late 1880s. The rails followed the east and north shores and then stopped at the lake’s northwest corner. After the Phinney family sold to the city in 1900 the country estate they named Woodland Park, the Seattle Electric Company completed the trolley line around the lake and through the park.

That the park was appropriately named became evident during the city’s quarter century of explosive growth after the Great Fire of 1889. As the trees were felled for new additions plotted in neat grids, this preserved copse of soaring firs on Phinney Ridge increasingly stood out. It could easily be seen across Lake Union.

The “then” photo featured here is kept now in the Municipal Archives. A few of the photographs gathered by park historian Don Sherwood revealed other parts of the half-mile north-south route the trolley took through the park, although the photos were often not otherwise identified. After a lot of comparing and map reading, I know this part of it:

The historical photo was recorded from a rustic pedestrian bridge that crossed over the tracks between two picturesque walls or piers faced with hundreds of river rocks. One of the approaches is gone, but the west wall was kept and can easily be visited on the road that climbs through the picnic sites from the tennis courts off West Greenlake Way North.

The line was built in harmony with the park. Crossing shallow ravines, its wooden trestles, like the one here on the right, were appointed with rustic guard rails.

Check out Paul Dorpat and Jean Sherrard’s blog at www.pauldorpat.com.