Wilburton Trestle

The Wilburton Trestle is a wooden train trestle on the East Side, just southeast of downtown Bellevue.  According to Wikipedia, it’s 102 feet high and 975 feet long, which makes it the longest wooden trestle in the Pacific Northwest.  Although it belongs to BNSF, like most of the railway infrastructure in these parts, it hasn’t been used since 2007, when the Spirit of Washington Dinner Train went out of business.

Did I mention it’s made out of wood?

Wilburton trestle

Wilburton Trestle

 

Aside from walking under it, there are two ways to approach the trestle.  The first involves a climb up a steep muddy slope to the south side of the trestle.  This path involves pathfinding through a thicket of Himalayan Blackberry, while probably trespassing in some unsuspecting neighbor’s yard.  However, it offers a fine view of downtown Bellevue and, if you’re there at the right time, a nice romantic sunset view.

Wilburton trestle track

(If you can persuade your significant other to risk the mud and brambles, that is…)

Wilburton trestle track

The second is simpler:  park somewhere around 118th Ave SE & SE 5th St, ignore the sign promising DANGER, and walk along the tracks until you reach the north side of the trestle.

Danger

Walking the trestle from here is fairly dangerous and is clearly not for the acrophobic.  My constant companion couldn’t make it more than ten paces out.  The wood feels flimsy, and has enough gaps between the slats that the ground below is always visible.  The handrail consists of two flimsy wires, and there are pools of tar in places.  In short, it’s exhilarating.

Train's-eye view

One step beyond

The future of the Wilburton Trestle is unclear at this point.  It will likely depend on what happens with the proposed new light rail line that will connect Bellevue to the rest of the Sound Transit line sometime in the distant future.

Last train to Bellevue

Rumor has it a new trestle may be built to handle a local light rail line, with the old trestle kept around and used as a pedestrian path for hikers.  If confirmed, this would be a great use of a beautiful historic structure.

End of life

The complete Flickr set.