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Prairie Line Trail


Ghost Prairie, Thoughtbarn. Photo by Dane Gregory Meyer.

The Prairie Line Trail is an extraordinary landmark of Tacoma history. In 1873, the Northern Pacific Railroad designated the half-mile, two-acre corridor as the western terminus for its transcontinental railroad, beating out competitors Seattle, Olympia, and Bellingham. Modern city-building and telegraph communications followed the railroad, and from here sprung the town’s moniker, “The City of Destiny.”


The walking, biking and interpretive trail follows the historic rail corridor linking the University of Washington-Tacoma campus, the Brewery District, the Museum District and Thea Foss Waterway, and eventually connects with the Water Ditch Trail. Users are within walking distance of the convention center, the copper-domed Union Station, and the ethereal Bridge of Glass and Museum of Glass – all destinations that radiate outward from the Tacoma Art Museum.

Todd Bressi and Thoughtbarn tour the Prairie Line Trail. Photo by Lisa Kinoshita.

Public Art Plan

The Prairie Line Trail offers an opportunity to create a history-infused active destination and outdoor art venue that is unique to Washington, and the country. The PLT draws visitors to our historic downtown, where curated temporary and site-specific permanent art greets trail users.


In 2012, urban planner Todd Bressi and the design team of Lucy Begg and Robert Gay (Thoughtbarn) were awarded a commission to develop a public art plan for the Prairie Line Trail.


This project was supported by a National Endowment for the Arts planning grant.