Dusty Strings Harp and Hammered Dulcimer Makers logo(206) 634-1656

Updates: We have just migrated our website and have some details to clean up, so please pardon the mess! We’d also like to ask for your patience if we are slower than usual to respond to orders, emails, and phone calls. We are still dealing with the challenges of operating a manufacturing business safely during COVID, and we are working with limited staff capacity. Thank you!

Dusty Strings & the Interbay/Ballard Light Rail Segment

Hello friends of Dusty Strings,

We are asking for your help!

Dusty Strings’ harp and hammered dulcimer manufacturing business in Seattle is facing the possibility of a major disruption. The manufacturing building that we own and built in 2002 is in the crosshairs of an expansion of Seattle’s Sound Transit light rail system being built throughout the region, known as the West Seattle/ Ballard Link extension. While we are in favor of and use the existing light rail system, the planned expansion of this project comes right through the Interbay district where our building is situated. Early this year, we got the shock of our lives to learn that our building sits squarely in the path of the 2 “preferred” routes out of several that have been proposed.

The red arrow shows the location of our building

As the planning is well underway, the project is now in the “Draft Environmental Impact Statement” (EIS) phase, which is open to public comment on the proposed routes. This comment period closes on April 28th! The Draft EIS identifies the track paths and station alternatives under consideration, describes the potential environmental impacts and benefits of each alternative, proposes actions that will help mitigate impacts, and seeks public comments on the community and personal impacts of the proposed routes.

The light rail project is important, and we realize that any chosen route will have an impact on someone's business or home. We don't claim that Dusty Strings has more right to stay where we are than someone else does. Nevertheless, we do want to make Sound Transit aware of who we are and what it would mean to the Seattle community, our instrument owners worldwide, and our dealers that represent us in faraway places if they took our building. Sound Transit knows us as a white roofed square on a satellite map and we’d like them to know us more personally, through your comments.

If you are local to the Seattle area, it might mean something to you that Dusty Strings has been a family-owned and operated business for 43 years, and remains committed to staying in Seattle and employing local skilled craftspeople, even as our city gets more expensive for small businesses. Perhaps you feel, as we do, that local manufacturing is an important part of the diversity of Seattle businesses, and is worth preserving. We have a unique business that would be difficult to relocate within the city. Our 40,000 some instruments have been handcrafted in Seattle since the beginning, and we hope they can remain so!

Even if you are not a Seattle local, your voice could still be important. Our reputation as a globally-respected instrument builder and a part of the worldwide harp and hammered dulcimer communities can only reflect well on Seattle. You could convey the impact Dusty Strings has had on your own life or your community, and why it’s important to you to see us continue without disruption.

So, this is a “call to action” to those who would be moved to write something on our behalf at Sound Transit’s Draft EIS web portal. Rather than expressing outrage or “not in my backyard” sentiments, which may not be helpful, we are hoping for some well-considered, informative and constructive statements that will educate the decision makers on the Sound Transit board as to the value of Dusty Strings and our desire to remain in Seattle. We’ve listed some bullet points and examples below.

Finally, while are asking for your very timely help, we don’t want anyone to worry about the future of Dusty Strings being at risk! We are committed to the continuation of our harp and dulcimer building, and just hope that we can get through the difficult obstacle before us and continue to make instruments in the beloved Seattle community we’ve been a part of for 43 years.

Thank you so much for your consideration and support!


Ray, Sue and Christy Mooers and the crew at Dusty Strings

More Details & Examples

Comments are due April 28th, 2022

Submit comments here or email WSBLEDEIScomments@soundtransit.org

Please reference the Dusty Strings manufacturing building address: 3450 16th Ave W, Seattle, WA 98119

Here are some points we feel might be useful for Sound transit to hear. You are welcome to use any of them as inspiration, and please also include how Dusty Strings is important to you personally.

  • We want to acknowledge that Sound Transit has tough choices to make, and we are interested in making them aware of our unique business and where we fit in the Seattle and worldwide communities.
  • As currently proposed, the only route that would not force us to move is the Elevated 14th Avenue Option (from Prospect/15th), also known as IBB-1b. Other routes could possibly be adjusted in order to spare our building and five other buildings, and follow a public street instead.
  • Dusty Strings was founded in Seattle in 1979 and has remained a family-owned and operated local business for the past 43 years. Our globally-recognized musical instruments have been handcrafted in Seattle since the beginning, and it is our goal to stay here well into the future.
  • As manufacturers of high-quality harps and hammered dulcimers, we are a proud member of Seattle’s dwindling manufacturing community, which is important to business diversity in an increasingly tech-dominated city. We employ local skilled craftspeople, many of whom have made Dusty Strings their lifelong career.
  • We estimate approximately 60-70 workers would be displaced from this building alone, which houses Dusty Strings as well as four other small businesses.
  • Our ecologically-conscious employees are contributing their tax dollars to this project and would love the opportunity to commute to work by light rail rather than driving.
  • If we are forced to relocate, it could be very difficult to find another space within Seattle that will meet our needs as a unique manufacturer and small business. Our custom-designed building and owner-occupied model have made it possible to stay in Seattle as the costs of operating in Seattle have driven other manufacturers out of the city. Having to move outside of Seattle would certainly mean a major disruption to our instrument-building operations. It could also mean losing 20 to 30 years of instrument building expertise if our longtime employees are forced to leave their chosen careers in order to stay close to their families in Seattle.
  • Dusty Strings has connections with instrument owners around the world, and many of them know of Seattle because that’s where their harp was made. Dusty Strings instruments are an important part of the livelihood of local, independent music stores all across the country, as well as in the UK, Europe, Asia, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.

Here's an example statement, which was submitted by a former employee of Dusty Strings who gave us permission to share it:

I would like to offer comments on the route alternatives of the Interbay/Ballard segment, EIS pages ES36 to ES44.  

First: Thank you for building this section of light rail! I am a Seattle native and 30-year Ballard homeowner, and I worked in Interbay for much of my working life. As such, I very much appreciate the need for this project.

Regarding the route: I STRONGLY SUPPORT THE IBB-1b ALTERNATIVE.  While I understand that there are many impacts you are considering, I’d like to speak to one in particular: The home of Dusty Strings Company at 3450 16th Ave W.  They are a company founded in Seattle that has grown into a globally respected harp builder. They have been committed to hiring local people and staying in Seattle over the decades, even when that has been the more expensive option.  This manufacturing facility that would be impacted by the other route options was custom designed and built specifically for Dusty Strings' needs only 20 years ago, and if it were removed, a replacement structure would also have to be custom built. It would cause massive disruption to their operations for some years. It appears that the current preferred alternative (pink line) impacts significantly more businesses and employees than the alternatives. While I support light rail, I also support manufacturing companies that employ skilled craftspeople and invest in the city, and advocate the IBB-1b alternative as a good compromise.

Thank you for your consideration.

Submit comments here or email WSBLEDEIScomments@soundtransit.org

You have our heartfelt thanks!

Quick Info

Comments are due April 28th, 2022

Submit comments here or email WSBLEDEIScomments@soundtransit.org

Please reference the Dusty Strings building address: 3450 16th Ave W, Seattle, WA 98119

The route that does not impact Dusty Strings: "Elevated 14th Avenue (from Prospect/15th)," also known as IBB-1b.

To skip to example statements and bullet points, click here.