In February 1887, construction of the Seattle, Lake Shore and Eastern railroad began in Seattle and reached Woodinville late that year.
The track then split at Woodinville, with one branch turning north to Snohomish, then on to the border town of Sumas and connecting to the Canadian railroad system for transporting shipments to the East Coast. The other branch continued south to Redmond to the coal mines in Squak (later renamed Issaquah).
The first railroad depot in Woodinville was built about 1888 and was located between those two branches. A larger depot was soon built a few hundred feet west on pilings. A locomotive turntable was located just east of the Woodinville depot at the railroad wye (triangular junction), where the tracks split (across the street from today’s historic Woodinville Mercantile building on NE Woodinville Drive). The first turntable, built in 1892, had a diameter of 60 feet.
During these early years of operation, “helper” engines were stationed at Woodinville to assist freight trains up the Maltby grade. The turntable allowed the engines to be turned around for other uses. The railroads became an essential part of the early lumber industry. Several mills and logging operations which were the main source of employment were located around Woodinville.
The railroads were also important to the valley agriculture. During the 1930s, expansive vegetable fields were operated by Japanese, Italian and Filipino farmers throughout the Sammamish Valley. Each summer, upwards of 250 boxcars of produce were shipped back east via the railroads.