This paired sculpture and mural features a finger and thumb clasping a steel needle, followed by a trail of stitches. The title takes its inspiration from a late-1800’s promotional slogan for Tacoma, and the mural elaborates on this era in Tacoma’s urban development. Together, these elements tell the story of the Northern Pacific Railroad finding its end at Commencement Bay and the growth of urban Tacoma.
Where the Rails Meet the Sails is a metaphor for rails and sails being stitched together to complete the connection of the Northern Route of the Transcontinental Railroad in 1873. Here in Tacoma, trains traveled to meet the ships headed to San Francisco, Alaska, Asia, and beyond.
The needle is a piece of historic rail salvaged from the Prairie Line Trail, and the stitches are made from the same kind of heavy mooring cable used to sew cotton sails. The mural’s text and title is inspired by the many marketing campaigns that sought to attract people and investment to Tacoma.
The hand holding the needle in the sculpture and mural is larger-than-life, which is fitting considering the far-reaching impacts unleashed by the decision to set the western terminus of the Northern Pacific Railroad (NPRR) in Tacoma.
Rotator Creative is an agency located in Tacoma, working at the intersection of art, advertising, and community building.
Lance Kagey is best known for his Beautiful Angle street-art posters. They use poetry, design, and antique typefaces to celebrate Tacoma, much like his first permanent public art piece. For Kagey, Where the Rails Meet the Sails is a meditation on how the world is an incredibly connected place.
Mark Alvis, whose great grandfather worked as an advertiser in Tacoma, marvels at the opportunity to use his own design skills to commemorate the efforts of his ancestor and others like him.
Scott Varga designs everything from websites, to hot rods, to industrial sculpture. He sees a direct connection between the coming of the railroad in 1873 and the proudly working-class, global city Tacoma has become.