Or Would It All Just Be The Same: 36 Views

Here are 36 views of Seattle's Pier 86 Grain Terminal, photos taken June 26, 2003. The Terminal appears in every photo. No, really. These photos are not in any particular order. Some of the descriptions don't really go with the photos. I wrote some of these descriptions after reading a lot of Seanbaby, so they're even cruder and more rambling than you might expect of descriptions of photos of a high-speed grain-loading facility.

(2007 Update: I went back to Seattle and took more photos of the Pier 86 Grain Terminal.)

(2010 Update: I went back to Seattle and took more photos. I swapped out one of this page's views to include one of them. And then I swapped out some more, replacing them with some of the 2007 photos.)

(2011 Update: I went back to Seattle and took more photos. I swapped out one of this page's views to include one of them.)

[Photo: Interpretive Text] I spent a few hours in Seattle's waterfront and Queen Anne neighborhood, taking photos of the Pier 86 Grain Terminal. In previous visits to Seattle, my attempts to take photos of this high-speed grain-loading facility were thwarted by failing light or lack of film. This time, I made up for missed opportunities.
[Photo: Two Million] Unrelated excerpt from a sign about the grain terminal:

The Port of Seattle's grain terminal at Pier 86 was ready for use in November 1970.

The terminal is operated under a long-term lease by Cargill, Inc. [as of 1999, this is no longer true], the largest grain dealer in the nation. In 1979, the grain terminal loaded a record breaking 1,977,000 tons of grain to 85 vessels.

The area, created by barging in 2.8 million cubic yards of fill, comprises about 40 acres, and is triangular in shape.

[Photo: Alley Flowers] The alleys and driveways of the Queen Anne neighborhood don't just offer views of the Pier 86 Grain Terminal. Some of them have flowers, too. You might think that this plant was really tall, but it wasn't. This alley was so steep that I sat my butt down on the ground so that I could take a photo pointing downhill without falling flat on my face.
[Photo: Path to Amgen Bridge] Unrelated excerpt from a sign about the grain terminal: Current capacity is 4.2 million bushels, expandable to meet future requirements. Origin of grain: grain is brought by rail and truck to Pier 86 from Eastern Washington, Montana, North Colorado, and Oregon. (This photo is from 2007)
[Photo: Control Office] This building houses the control office. I wonder what the controls for this baby look like. There's a picture in my head of a big red button labeled "CONVEY". But obviously, there's more to it than that. There's probably also a light switch and a coffee machine. (Update: Intrepid reader Nate sent in some interesting photos of the interior of the control building.)
[Photo: Base of the Conveyor] Unrelated excerpt from a sign about the grain terminal:

Markets: Grain is shipped from Pier 86 by Cargill, Inc. [as of 1999, no longer true] to all countries in the Far East and to many countries in Central and South America.

Rail Access: The northern-tier railroads--Burlington Northern and the Union Pacific--have access to the terminal on a common user basis.

Rail Trackage: For 175 Rail cars; expandable to 215 cars.

[Photo: Covered Conveyor Belt and Seattle Tower] The Pier 86 Grain Terminal is in Seattle Harbor. It was originally built so that the Cargill Corporation would lease it. (There was a special lump of warmth in my heart for the Cargill Corporation because their salt ponds comprised the flat, flat surroundings of the Redwood City office where I worked.) However, the Cargill Corporation got an even sweeter deal from Tacoma, and moved their grain-loading operation there. But they left the Pier 86 Grain Terminal behind.
[Photo: Wavy Fences] Unrelated excerpt from a sign about the grain terminal:

Vessel Loading: The pouring rate from shipping bins to vessel at full speed is 3,000 tons per hour via twin 48-inch conveyor belts. If desired, two kinds of grain can be loaded simultaneously via two separate shipping systems. Moder bulk carriers in the 15,000-ton class are loaded in one day.

[Photo: From the Cruise Terminal] Lurking on the fringe of this teeming metropolis is a hidden bounty--a bounty of grain. I don't know what that means. (This photo is from 2011.)
[Photo: Hole in a Fence] Unrelated excerpt from a sign about the grain terminal:

Truck Unloader: Unloader rate is 250 tons per hour.

Headhouse: In a loading operation, grain is transported from silos by belts to the 245-foot-high headhouse, dropped by gravity into automatic scales and then into shipping bins. There are eight shipping bins with a capacity of 1200 tons.

[Photo: Fisherman] There's a fishing pier near the place where the conveyor belt dumps grain into waiting freighters. I wonder if some grain ever gets blown by the wind into the water. Can fish eat grain? Might fish gather in the area, hoping for food? Probably not. At least, this fisherman wasn't having much luck.
[Photo: Flower Garden] Is it possible to take a photo of the Pier 86 Grain Terminal that my mom would like?
[Photo: From the North] To take some of these photos, I clambered out onto rocks. Some of these rocks had barnacles on them. I was wearing sandals, and stubbed a toe pretty badly once. I was worried that I'd get an icky barnacle infection. I've heard that those were pretty awful. But I hadn't broken the skin. So I was OK, other than having stubbed my toe on a rock-hard rock.
[Photo: Where the Grain Emerges] Is it abnormal to take such an interest in a high-speed grain loading system? What man wouldn't find something compelling about this system which conveys seed into a waiting receptacle? I mean, Freud would say that was normal. Nasty, but normal.
[Photo: Happy Hooker] There's a shore park by the silos. The conveyor belt actually passes over the park. There's a bike path, a fishing pier, and a bait shop.
[Photo: Fill 'er Up] From a harbor tour boat, 2010
[Photo: Hose!] The fishing pier had some fish-cleaning stations. Have you ever wondered what the hoses at those things looked like close-up? Me, neither. If there had actually been a fish on the fish-cleaning table, I could have worked in some weird biblical reference. Like, loaves and fishes, using the grain terminal to represent loaves. Well, let's see, the fish-cleaning table holds fish and the grain terminal holds grain. So this photo is actually dripping with symbolism.
[Photo: Tourist] Who invited this guy?
[Photo: From Kinnear Park] Kinnear Park, in the Queen Anne neighborhood, has many great views of the Pier 86 Grain Terminal. While I was at one place in the park, taking the photos which I would later stich together to form this panorama, a nice man told me about a viewing platform elsewhere in the park. He also told me that the view had been beautiful before the city build the Terminal. He said that local residents with views had protested, but the city had ignored them and built the thing anyhow. Actually, he didn't say that the city ignored the protestors. To illustrate what the city had done to them, he made a graphic fisting motion. He said, "It was the money." I was so grateful for him telling me about the viewing platform, I didn't have the heart to tell him that I didn't think that the grain terminal ruined the view, that I was in fact there to view the Terminal. I just thanked him.
[Photo: Hungry for Ream] I was sure glad to see this sign. Then I went inside the shop and ordered a "mocha blast", and wondered if that was a double entendre.
[Photo: Loner] I have no idea what that group of people was talking about, nor do I know why that one lady thought she'd prefer to participate a few meters away from the rest.
[Photo: Loose Gravel] Hokusai had Mount Fuji. You work with what's available.
[Photo: ?Counterweights?] One of the towers supporting the covered conveyor belts had a couple of weird things projecting downward from the cover. I couldn't tell what they might be. They look sort of like counterweights. Would a conveyor belt need counterweights?
[Photo: From the Space Needle] There's a planted area by the silos. A plaque there says, "In memory of Julia E Sutton by the employees of the Port of Seattle, 1976". You can't see that planted area in this view from the Space Needle, 2007.
[Photo: Napster] This was a difficult photo to take. There was a narrow window--I was up on a hill that allowed me to see over a fence. But there were trees that would block the view. And so I lay down in the grass with my camera, to aim under the branches. And I took this photo. While I was taking the photo, a lady sunning herself nearby looked at me funny, packed up and left. Maybe she thought I was trying to photograph this guy's butt. Maybe she thought her butt was next.
[Photo: No Trespassing] Apparently, the Louis Dreyfus company was running the Grain Terminal as of 2003. I tried looking at their website to see if they mentioned the place, specifically to see if they offered tours. I didn't find anything.
[Photo: Planter] I saw that hanging planter in the sweltering heat and for a moment I was back in Sidney Harbor. But then I was back to reality--on a balcony outside an ultra-stylish meeting room in which some not-so-stylish business people were holding some useless meeting. Maybe some of them wondered what I was taking a photo of.
[Photo: ?Mount Ranier?] To get to the shoreline from the main waterfront street, I used an overpass. It was such a clear day, that I could see this mountain. Shall we say that it was Mount Ranier? Yes, let's say that it was Mount Ranier. I was facing South, after all. No, really, you can see a mountain, very faintly. It's to the right of the silos, poking up over that other building.
[Photo: Sampling Shed] Unrelated excerpt from a sign about the grain terminal:

Offshore Loading: The 600-foot dock can handle deep-draft vessels drawing up to 73 feet of water. With this great waterside depth the dock is capable of berthing bulk carriers up to 1400 feet long.

[Photo: Construction] Probably the most direct way to approach the Pier 86 Grain Terminal from the North is to use Alaskan Way. But there was some mammoth construction project going on. I didn't feel like trying to dodge backhoes while in my sandals. So I took this photo and headed for the shore.
[Photo: Hillside] Unrelated excerpt from a sign about the grain terminal:

Electronic Control: Every step of the unloading and loading operation is controlled by a highly sophisticated electronic system. The flow of grain from truck and railcar dump to washer, silos, shipping bins, conveyor belt and ship can be viewed through a closed-circuit- TV system by operators at the control board.

[Photo: Structure] There was some mammoth construction going on along Alaska Way. This structure of metal girders might have been the Southern end of that. But maybe not. Honestly, I have no idea what purpose this structure could serve.
[Photo: Train beside Amgen] Unrelated excerpt from a sign about the grain terminal:

Grain Inspection: A state grain-inspection office is located at the terminal. Its function is to carefully weigh and grade all inbound and outbound grain to assure protection to both seller and buyer, as well as the consumer. (This photo is from 2007)

[Photo: Tour Boat] The previous time I was in Seattle, Tom Lester and I took a boat tour of Seattle Harbor. It went past the Grain Terminal, and I took one bad photo before my camera ran out of film. By the time I had changed film, the boat had gone past the Terminal. What a fiasco. Anyhow, there's the boat.
[Photo: End of an Alley] Unrelated excerpt from a sign about the grain terminal:

Pollution Control: Extensive equipment has been installed to eliminate dust pollution. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Pier 86 has the cleanest grain loading operation in the entire country.

Elliott Bay Park: In 1975 the Port completed construction of a paved pedestrian walk and bicycle path which was landscaped with trees, shrubs, and ground cover.

[Photo: Walkway] There was sort of a walkway/pier under the conveyor belt. I guess that the ships tie up to it while they're loading. And there's a worker running along. That's the best part about any vacation--watching someone else working hard.

And Now Back To Our Story[^]

comment? | | home |