Par-Mac, an industrial park located immediately just south of the Totem Lake area, broke ground in 1962 and was designed from the outset to be “rail-friendly” – meaning that rail access to the buildings was a selling point to businesses who built or leased there. Several businesses did use rail service, although not nearly all that could have. By the time Pac-Mac was built, truck shipping was in full swing, so only bulk (esp. heavy) items, usually raw materials and supplies used by the businesses, were received by rail.
By Kent Sullivan and Matt McCauley
Take a trip through time in Par-Mac
Picturing all of the changes in industries and railroad spurs over the 25+ years of development in Par-Mac is difficult. We put together an animation to help you visualize the evolution.
Simply click on the image at right to begin. You can click the animation at any time to pause it. You can also skip forward and back by using the progress bar at the bottom.
The aerial images from 1954 and 1970 are courtesy King County Road Services Map Vault. The 1981 aerial image is courtesy University of Washington Libraries Maps & Cartographic Information.
This is new technology for us, so if you have any difficulty, please contact us and let us know.
Note: There is no audio accompanying the animation.
Note: The full-sized video is also available.
Haroldson Industries Spur
(incl. Monotherm, Eastside Glass & Paint. Reliable Sheet Metal, and others)
Located at 10819 120th Avenue NE (the south end of Par-Mac), Haroldson Industries was one of the very first occupants of Pac-Mac, arriving in May, 1963, and the first to be served by the Northern Pacific. Their business was manufacturing a new type of high-pressure plastic-finished furniture with a plywood, particle board, or hardwood core, that was later adopted by major manufacturers such as Drexel.
The Lake Washington Land Co., the parent company behind Par-Mac, petitioned the NP for a spur in April, which quickly approved and presumably built shortly thereafter. The spur was a fairly-lengthy 870’, given the position of the building relative to the NP’s main track, and also due to an elevation difference.
By October, 1966, Haroldson had doubled in size, with 50+ production workers plus sales staff, and had increased the building’s size from 32,000 sf to 41,600 sf by adding a 60′ extension to the north side, and had opened a sister plant in Vancouver, BC. By 1968, most of their sales came from furniture for dining rooms and bedrooms along with furniture known as “occasional”, with growth coming from the furnished apartment, hotel, and institutional sectors, with a large contract for the GSA in southeast Asia, presumably related to the Vietnam War. Haroldson appears to have closed sometime in 1975.
Monotherm became a building tenant circa 1976 and was last listed as a tenant circa 1981. A Burlington Northern SPINS document from 1978 indicates that the company was using the spur. (The BN instituted the Shippers Perpetual Industrial Numbering System, aka SPINS, in the 1970’s.) The 1978 SPINS document shows that 3 cars could be spotted at this building.
BN records from 1991 indicate that Eastside Glass & Paint received railroad service at this location. This firm became a building tenant circa 1982 and was last listed as a tenant circa 1991. Weathervane Window Co. also became a tenant in 1982 and was last listed in 2004, but BN records do not mention it.
The 1991 BN records also show that Reliable Sheet Metal, Inc. received rail service at this location. Interestingly, that company was located about 7 blocks north (11447 120th Avenue NE) throughout its existence (circa 1967 until it closed circa 1996). It’s likely that the company used rail service to receive bulk material, and apparently transported it by truck.
GTS Drywall Supply moved to this location from across the tracks (see Lincoln Fotups section below) circa 2005 and may have briefly received rail service.
The spur to this building survived until the end of active railroad use.
Hearin Plywood Industries Spur
(incl. Durkin Chemical Co.)
Located directly north of Haroldson Industries, at 10905 120th Avenue NE, Hearin Plywood, Inc.’s distribution center was an expansion of Hearin Forest Industries (a marketing organization for many PNW lumber and plywood manufacturers, based in Portland, OR) to serve retail plywood markets. It opened in March, 1970 and had 5 employees plus Manager Frank Vandemeer. The Terteling Land Co. (who became the owner of Par-Mac as of late February, 1970), petitioned the NP in February to extend the Haroldson spur 205′ to serve Hearin. The NP approved the plan in March and presumably the work was done shortly thereafter.
Hearin’s first location for this operation was in Feriton, where they subleased from December, 1968 through March, 1970, while the Par-Mac location was leased and the building was built.
Hearin Plywood was apparently short-lived or moved, because it disappeared from this location in 1972, according to surviving records.
Durkin Chemical Co. took over the building and operated there from 1972-1986, using rail service at least part of that time, because the spur was referred to as “Durkin Chemical Co.” in some BN records, including the 1978 SPINS document. The SPINS document indicates that 2 cars could be spotted at this building.
The spur may have been cut back to its original 1963 length once no tenant in this building had rail service.
Lincoln Fotups Associates Spur
(incl. GTS Drywall Supply, Meyers Distribution, Travis Industries, and others)
This large (125,500 sq. ft.) warehouse, located at 10822-10858 117th Place NE, was built in 1978, directly across the Burlington Northern main track from Haroldson Industries. The BN approved constructing a 360′ spur on January 25 “for Lincoln Property Co. to serve Lincoln Fotups Associates”. Research indicates that neither of these companies ever occupied the building but were involved in its construction and leasing.
A number of firms occupied space in this building over the years but only a few used rail service. Moss Bay Builder’s Supply moved in shortly after the building was constructed. The firm became GTS Drywall Supply circa 1983 and received rail service as late as 1991, and likely later, based on surviving BN records. The company changed its name to GTS Interior Supply circa 2005 and moved across the tracks to the former Haroldson building circa 2008.
Meyers Distribution came into existence in early 1978, after John Meyers was awarded the Coors Beer distributorship for north King County in April. Meyers searched for employees immediately and Coors announced the availability of product in August. The Seattle Times published a feature article about Coors’ arrival in Seattle in September. John Hinterberger, the author, quoted Meyers and noted that he was a former college (UW) and pro football player. BN records indicate the company was using rail service as late as 1991, and likely later.
In the photo from 1990 at right, a small GTS sign can be seen on the near end of the building, while a Coors Beer trailer can be seen at the opposite end.
BN records from 1991 also indicate that Travis Industries received rail service. The company moved into the building in 1982 and manufactured high-efficiency wood stoves under the Lopi Energy Systems brand. They were no longer listed as a tenant beginning in 2005.
According to the 1978 BN SPINS document, Bel-Square Furniture, which was a tenant circa 1978-1982, also received service.
It is possible that more tenants used rail service at other times not covered by surviving BN documents, because this spur survived until the end of active railroad use.
Brillware Manufacturing Co. Spur
(incl. American Prefinish and Cascade Drywall Supply)
Located at the north end of Par-Mac, this building, a simple tilt-up concrete affair, was initially constructed in 1962 and then expanded six times, in 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, and 1969. Each time the building was lengthened but not widened, to a total of 840’ (four city blocks).
Brillware Manufacturing Co. (11809 NE 116th Street) opened for business in mid-1962, just after the initial section of the building was completed, and was one of the very first occupants of Par-Mac. Brillware designed and assembled custom cabinets from pre-cut parts, meeting a need for furniture-quality kitchen cabinets that could be mass-produced, for open-plan homes where the kitchen was part of the main living space. The company began with 12 employees, but by 1965 it employed 48 workers and had expanded into markets in Oregon and Idaho. Before relocating to Kirkland, Brillware was located in Seattle near Lake Union.
Brillware’s business apparently grew to the point where it made sense to receive raw materials by rail. The company requested a spur (via its parent company Swabi, Inc.) in September, 1972, which was approved in October and apparently completed in April, 1973.
The 1978 BN SPINS document indicates that 9 cars could be spotted on this spur for Brillware and, at the far south end, 1 car for American Prefinish, which may have been closely connected to Brillware.
After Brillware closed, the building was divided into at least 10 separate leasable spaces, all with addresses on NE 112th Street (except for the furthest-north space). BN records from 1991 show Cascade Drywall Supply (11820 NE 112th Street) as having received rail service at some point in the past. Building occupant records indicate that the company was a tenant from 1984-1987, after moving from Feriton and before moving to Redmond, where the company continued to receive rail service from the BN. Prior to Par-Mac, the company was located in the Feriton neighborhood, at 519 6th Street S.
Note: All-Phase Electrical Supply (11824 NE 112th Street), which is still in business at the far south end of the building as of 2021, apparently initially shared its space with Cascade Drywall Supply.
Although the building has at least 9 freight doors capable of rail service, no other tenants are known to have used it.
NE 116th Street overpass
In March, 1958, the NP issued a proposal to cover incidental work in support of King County constructing a bridge over the railroad at NE 116th Street (aka Langdon Road), replacing an at-grade crossing. Paperwork shows that this project had been in the works since at least mid-1956. This bridge is visible in the 1966 Brillware photo above.