UW-T Campus: Ghost Prairie

Thoughtbarn installation speaks to the railroad line’s namesake. Inspired by the mysterious Mima mounds located south and the plight of the prairie, our public art installation introduces a piece of ‘artificial prairie’ along the rails of the Prairie Line Trail in downtown Tacoma. It is a playful referral to both the railroad’s history and its new landscape-driven future as a bike and pedestrian path through the city. For its duration the colorful, intriguing object(s) will catch the eye of local pedestrians and drivers. They will draw attention to the oft-overlooked railroad which nonetheless defines Tacoma’s history. Those most curious can get up close to run their hands along the ‘grasses’, which will also glow at night. Artists: Thoughtbarn (Lucy Begg, Robert Gay)

Ghost Prairie

Photo by Dane Meyer

Temporal Terminus: Marking the Line

Temporal Terminus: Marking the Line is a temporary public art exhibit that celebrates the important transformation of the Prairie Line Trail from rail to linear park.

In 1873, the Northern Pacific Railroad fulfilled Abraham Lincoln’s dream that the transcontinental railroad reach saltwater. This historic achievement occurred right here in Tacoma where water would have first been spotted by railroad workers at about 17th and Pacific Avenue. Trains were still running on the tracks through the University of Washington campus and downtown Tacoma up until 2003.

Now the historic line is undergoing a new transformation. The proposed $5.83 million walking, biking and interpretive trail follows the historic rail corridor linking the University of Washington-Tacoma campus, the Brewery District, the Museum District, Thea Foss Waterway and eventually will connect with the Water Ditch Trail and South Tacoma.

The City of Tacoma received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to create a public art plan for the Prairie Line Trail and selected Todd Bressi and the team Thoughtbarn (Lucy Begg & Robert Gay) to create the plan and a demonstration project that will begin to bring attention to the project and the potential for its use. In partnership with the University of Washington-Tacoma, this exhibit is the first intervention to be explored along the Prairie Line Trail.

Thoughtbarn created one artwork and seven more sites were identified for Tacoma artists. Seven teams of artists who are participating in Tacoma’s public art training program have created site responsive works as well.