Friends of the Prairie Line Trail: 2nd Organizational Meeting

You are most cordially invited to attend our next meeting to participate in organizing a core group of dedicated individuals that will support the Prairie Line Trail through downtown Tacoma.

In January a group of interested individuals met and collaborated with other community leaders, stakeholders, educators, and historians to help develop the “Prairie Line Trail” into a safe, attractive, active part of downtown Tacoma. Others have expressed an interest in being a part of this. The purpose of this second meeting will be to continue to develop and prioritize the groups’ goals and objectives and brainstorm how this group should look, feel, and act.

The Prairie Line Trail is unique in its potential to become a destination for a wide variety of community events and activities, while also being a link to other Tacoma and South Sound amenities. In order to make it convenient for those of you who may be attending this years’ Urban Studies Forum on Urban Branding (see web link at, we will be meeting on the same date right after this event and right next door to Philip Hall (Conserving energy and time for those of you already in town).

Please consider stopping by and becoming a part of this worthwhile effort.

BACKGROUND (Information from our first meeting)

The University of Washington Tacoma and the City of Tacoma have separately and collaboratively worked to purchase and develop those portions of railroad right-of-way that pass through downtown Tacoma and were previously owned and operated as an active rail spur by Burlington Northern Santé Fe (BNSF) until the completion of the Downtown Link in 2003. This spur was historically referred to as the Prairie Line Trail and was a portion of the larger Northern Transcontinental Railway that helped to establish Tacoma as a significant port City on the West Coast and brought many immigrants, goods, services to Tacoma in the mid to late 1800’s.

The repurposing of the BNSF right-of-way into a downtown amenity, that connects the University campus to other downtown communities and promotes the recreational, cultural, and educational vibrancy of the campus and adjacent communities, has been welcomed and broadly supported by the community and its multiple stakeholders. The section of the trail that is within the University boundaries is commonly referred to as “The Prairie Line Trail at UWT Station” because of its location on campus and the historical Henry Villard train depot that was located just south of 17th. The entire stretch of the right-of-way from the Foss Waterway to 25th street and beyond is now commonly being referred to as the Prairie Line Trail that is envisioned to be a portion of a larger regional active and passive recreational trail system and cultural asset connecting downtown Tacoma to the Foss Waterway and other amenities and trails.


  • Community based
  • Self-sustaining
  • Non-profit
  • Act as docents of the trail (tell the story)
  • Promote continued development of the trail
  • Promote connections to other alternative transportation trails and options
  • Promote and organize activities and events along the trail
  • Ensure the continued use and vibrancy of the PLT
  • Long-term organization that will outlive its’ members
  • Independent of both the University and the City.
  • Focused on the Trail, its’ history, activities and connectivity.
  • Affiliated with The Foothills Rails-to-Trails Coalition

The Prairie Line Trail will not only improve the quality of life for all South Sound residents but will help us celebrate the history of Tacoma, its’ people, and the Railroads. While teaching our community about our past, the Prairie Line Trail will also provide a safe, pleasant, vibrant, place for students, staff, faculty and the community at large to gather, celebrate, educate, and recreate. In addition, the transportation element of the trail will provide an alternative transportation route that will connect Downtown Tacoma and the Foss Waterway to pedestrian/bicycle throughout Pierce County.


UW Tacoma
Cherry Parkes 103
1900 Commerce Street
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