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Wednesday, November 22, 2000 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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End of the line for Iron Horse

Seattle Times staff

The Iron Horse Restaurant, a landmark eatery to generations of train aficionados young and old, passed into history yesterday as hundreds of pieces of railroad memorabilia were auctioned off and the Pioneer Square institution went dark for the last time.

The restaurant, known for delivering food and drink aboard model trains, served its final meal on Nov. 10. Yesterday's auction was scheduled to run all day and attracted about 125 bidders the first hour.

Michael and Jodi Tuttle, the restaurant's fourth owners in 29 years, cited rising rents and lagging foot traffic as factors in their decision to close the restaurant. Rents in Pioneer Square have been driven up as new dot.coms have moved into the neighborhood. Demolition of the Kingdome in March cut into the crowds that used to patronize the Iron Horse on game days.

The Iron Horse was near the King Street Station, east of the Dome, at 311 Third Ave.

Some 1,300 items, from model railroad tracks and trains to a slew of railroading memorabilia, were on the auction block, said Glen Vannoy of Vanco Industrial Auctions, which handled the bidding.

Vannoy estimated the value of the Iron Horse collection at about $35,000, while the Tuttles earlier estimated the value at a reported $70,000. Vannoy did not disclose the final results yesterday.

The concept for the restaurant came from original owner Charlie Maslow, who decided to serve up hamburgers, sandwiches, milkshakes and pitchers of beer--all aboard those model trains harking to an earlier era.

Vannoy said the Iron Horse collection, crammed into all areas of the restaurant, included Lionel, American Flyer, Atlas, Hafner and Hornby model trains.

One estimate earlier this year put the collection of scale-model train engines and cars at 300 and the length of track at 400 feet.

Copyright (c) 2000 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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