Tuesday, October 28, 2014

And so it begins . . .

The Northwest Railway Museum steam program officially launched today with the movement of former Northern Pacific Railway steam locomotive 924 to the Conservation and Restoration Center.  The 1899-built Rogers six-coupled locomotive was carefully pulled from the static exhibit track in Snoqualmie by Baldwin Lima Hamilton-built diesel-electric locomotive 4024, an RS4-TC that powers regular trains at the Museum.  Work to collect data that will eventually allow the boiler to be certified is expected to begin shortly.

The curatorial steam team headed by Stathi Pappas made quick work of the assignment, which also relocated Baldwin-built steam locomotive 14 to an accessible storage track.  Canadian Collieries 14 is a 1898-built ten wheeler that will be the second locomotive to operate in the Museum's steam program.  Its pre WW II wood-framed tender presented several challenges to the team, but in the end was moved without sustaining any damage.  14 is in most respects similar to 924 so many techniques developed for the 924 will be transferable.  It is not expected in the Conservation and Restoration Center until locomotive 924 is substantially complete, possibly in 2016. 

Locomotive 924 had a few issues to overcome too.  A door on the ash pan (924 was coal-fired until the very end) fell open and was discovered dragging along the ballast shortly after the locomotive began to move.  It was spotted and quickly wired up without incident, and the movement continued.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Hallloween train steam

The locomotive was hot, though the weather was not. Even so, scores and scores came to experience steam at the Northwest Railway Museum for the final scheduled trains of 2014.  Some guests got their tickets in advance on the Museum's web site, while others bought their tickets just prior to departure. In all, more than 1,000 people rode the steam train, a wonderful way to end scheduled operations for 2014.

The annual Halloween trains operated on October 25 and 26.  Many guests were dressed in Halloween costumes, and cider press demonstrations were presented on the Snoqualmie Depot platform.  Five-car trains operated on Saturday, while four-car trains operated on Sunday, and the event presented an opportunity for the newly-rehabilitated coach 218 to get a really thorough shakedown. 

Santa Cruz Portland Cement 2 pulled trains both days.  Crews ably handled the locomotive despite occasional heavy rain, leaves on the rails, and sanders that struggled with the humid conditions.  Meanwhile, Curator of Collections Stathi Pappas kept a close watch on bearings for overheating using an infrared thermometer.

The next opportunity for a steam experience is during Santa Train 2014 in December.  On Friday, December 19 only, Santa Trains will be pulled by SCPC 2. So come and enjoy another "new" steam experience at the Northwest Railway Museum!  Tickets are available in advance here, but don't delay because Santa Train usually sells out in advance.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Steam program announced

On October 20, 2014, the Northwest Railway Museum officially announced plans for a steam locomotive program, and identified the locomotives that have been selected for rehabilitation, restoration and operation. This is an exciting time for the Museum, and represents continuing fulfillment of the long-term plan first developed nearly 20 years ago.
The steam program will be integrated into the Museum’s interpretive railway, and has been developed with data measured during this year’s pilot steam program that continues in operation through this coming weekend, October 25 and 26.  In 2015, summer steam trains will formally launch and operate with Santa Cruz Portland Cement 2, the 0-4-0 steam locomotive on loan from the Museum’s Curator of Collections Stathi Pappas. This introductory program will operate Memorial Day weekend, most weekends in July and August, Labor Day weekend, and Halloween Train weekend in October.  Following completion of the first of the Museum’s steam locomotive rehabilitations/restorations, the program is tentatively scheduled to expand beginning in late 2016.  
Steam locomotives were a driving force throughout much of Washington State’s history.  They pulled trains throughout the Northwest beginning with the arrival of the first railroads in the 1870s and dominated transportation in Washington until diesel electric locomotives replaced them in the late 1950s at the dawn of the Interstate Highway era.  Steam locomotives transported goods and people during the latter half of westward expansion, and fostered the development and settlement of communities across Washington State and King County.
Northern Pacific Railway locomotive 924 selected first

Beginning immediately and over the next two years, the Museum will rehabilitate and restore former Northern Pacific Railway 924, a 0-6-0 (six-coupled) locomotive.  Built by Rogers Locomotive and Machine Works in 1899 for the St. Paul and Duluth Railroad as their number 74, the locomotive was renumbered 924 after that road was purchased by the Northern Pacific Railway. In the early 1900s it was Seattle’s King Street Station coach yard switcher, later serving the Seattle and Tacoma yards, and in light branch line service.  Sold in 1925 to the Inland Empire Paper Company in Millwood, Washington she remained on their roster until 1969.
This locomotive is a classic example of late 19th century Northwest switching and branch line steam locomotives.  When the locomotive is complete, the Museum will be the only American institution operating class one steam west of Colorado with regionally-appropriate motive power and rolling stock on its original railroad. 
Two operating locomotives will allow the steam program to continue during scheduled maintenance and periodic servicing, and will allow for expanded service during large events.  Consequently, the Museum is planning for the operation of two steam locomotives.

Canadian Collieries locomotive 14 selected as second.

Following completion of steam locomotive 924, the Museum will begin the complete rehabilitation of steam locomotive 14, a classic 4-6-0 (“ten wheeler”) locomotive.  The 14 was built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1898 for the Union Colliery Company as their number 4 using the same design developed for the Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway.  When that Vancouver Island mine was absorbed into Canadian Collieries, it was renumbered 14 and continued in service until 1960 when it was purchased by the Museum.   
Canadian Collieries 14 is a classic Baldwin ten wheeler that will allow the Museum to provide a complete and authentic experience recreating railway passenger service from the first two decades of the 20th century.  Ten wheelers were the most popular and greatest-produced locomotive of all time and examples were found on nearly every major railroad in the Northwest, including the lines of the Seattle, Lake Shore and Eastern Railway that ran through Snoqualmie.

Making it happen!

The Museum is making a significant commitment to steam by investing in people and facilities.  A qualified team of paid and volunteer staff with prior experience in steam locomotive rehabilitation and restoration has been assembled and is being led by Curator of Collections Stathi Pappas.  Pappas has a graduate degree in Archeology, and has participated or led more than a dozen similar projects.

The machinery required to perform the work has already been obtained for all aspects of boiler and running gear work.  The work will be performed inside the Conservation and Restoration Center, the purpose-built collections care facility opened in 2007 and already equipped with an inspection pit, a monolithic floor, and utilities including sanitary sewer with oil-water separator that allow the Museum to maintain the locomotives in an environmentally-responsible manner.  

Several major grants and contributions have been pledged and work will begin next week; additional fundraising will be performed during the next 24 months to offset costs that will approach $1 million.  Contributions are encouraged and will be used to directly pay for the work performed; they can be made on the Museum's secure web site here and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.   

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Lettering a coach

The 1912-built wood coach 218 has been the focus of considerable rehabilitation effort at the Museum for some years.  In the final phase of work, some of the more iconic features of a passenger coach have finally begun to appear.  Grab irons, window latches, window lifts, and door stops are obvious to the passengers, but what about lettering? 

Most passenger cars were lettered with the railroad name or company along the - you guessed it - letterboard.  "Great Northern", "Northern Pacific", "Union Pacific", "Canadian Pacific", or even "Seattle Lake Shore and Eastern" are documented in period photos.  Coach 218 operated on a railroad jointly owned by the Northern Pacific and the Great Northern called the Spokane, Portland and Seattle.  Fortunately, a photograph held in the collections of the Oregon Historical Society revealed what that looked like in 1912. Paint sample found along the edges of moldings allowed an accurate color match too.

Lettering in era it was built was usually gold leaf, which were actual thin sheets of gold attached to the side of the car with an adhesive.  Gold leaf could have been applied to the 218, but it is a skill set not resident at the Northwest Railway Museum.  Fortunately, modern metallic paint can give an appearance very similar to gold leaf by using a paint mask over a pre-painted metallic gold surface.  So the artisans in the Museum's Conservation and Restoration Center were able to create the stencils and paint mask required to reproduce that look, and earlier this fall the lettering made its first appearance. 

You can visit and RIDE on coach 218 at the Northwest Railway Museum .  Your next opportunity are the Halloween Steam Train rides on October 25 and 26.  See you there!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

More steam please!

We heard you ask, and now we are answering: more steam at the Northwest Railway Museum!  

The next weekend of steam featuring Mr. Pappas' Santa Cruz Portland Cement locomotive 2 will be October 4 and 5, 2014 on the Fall Schedule with departures from Snoqualmie.  Fares are $18 for adults, $15 for seniors and $10 for children.  You can purchase tickets in advance for departure from Snoqualmie with no added cost using the Northwest Railway Museum's web site.

But wait, there's more!

Halloween Train is an annual tradition  held the last weekend of October every year at the Northwest Railway Museum.  Trains run on the summer schedule on October 25 and 26, 2014, but this year they will be hauled by the Santa Cruz Portland Cement locomotive 2.  Fares are $18 for adults, $15 for seniors and $10 for children.  You can purchase tickets in advance for departure from Snoqualmie with no added cost using the Northwest Railway Museum's web site; your tickets will be held at will call for pickup at least 30 minutes prior to your scheduled departure.

And there is even more!

One day of Santa Train 2014 will also be hauled by steam! SCPC 2 will pull the Friday, December 19, 2014 Santa Train. There is no extra charge for steam, but advance tickets will incur a modest fee to defer the cost of postage.  All Santa Trains depart from the North Bend Depot and your ticket includes refreshment served at Snoqualmie, and a small gift for all participating children.  Tickets will be on sale to the public beginning September 13, 2014 using the Museum's web site.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Labor Day and the Railroad

Today is Labor Day, and it is a holiday that has particular significance for railroad labor. Spike was reminded of this earlier today when a Seattle Times column described the efforts of a self-described local think tank to boycott the holiday.   So what does it have to do with the railroad?

1893 was a difficult year for the United States: the worst economic recession in the country's 117 year history gripped the Nation.  Two of the chief culprits causing the "Panic of 1893" were railroad speculation and over-building.  More than 500 banks and 15,000 businesses failed, including the mighty Union Pacific Railroad; the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad; the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway; and the Northern Pacific Railroad.  The latter company had its western terminus in Tacoma, and had recently leveraged itself to acquire control of the Seattle, Lake Shore and Eastern Railway ("SLSE"). (The SLSE's mainline between Snoqualmie and North Bend is today owned by the Northwest Railway Museum.)  The Panic of 1893 was devastating for railroad suppliers too.

George M. Pullman was the founder and president of the Pullman Palace Car Company. In 1880 he conceived and developed the Town of Pullman, Illinois as a model community that would attract the best and brightest employees by providing ideal living conditions. When initial construction was completed in 1884, the town included more than 1,000 homes, public buildings, and many parks. Pullman workers rented homes from the company; the fee included basic home maintenance and even daily garbage collection. The community was independently viewed as a nearly perfect town, but residency for employees was less than optional: during a work slow down, employees who lived outside the town of Pullman were the first to be laid off.

The economic recession continued and by early 1894 Pullman reacted to the situation by reducing wages by an average of 25%.  Rental fees for company housing, however, remained unchanged so some worker's pay was reduced to just $9.07 a fortnight, but rent was $9.00 leaving just 7 cents for food, water and gas.  And a work day remained at 16 hours.  On May 10, 1894 workers who were now represented by the American Railway Union ("ARU") voted to strike. Six weeks into the work stoppage, Pullman - who had guaranteed the investors of his model town a 6% return on investment - continued to refuse requests for negotiation or arbitration. The ARU expanded the impact to a boycott by all their members of all Pullman Palace Cars operating in 27 States, ultimately involving 250,000 workers. This effectively shut down most of the railroads west of Detroit, stopped the mail, and - with telegrams from railroad managers demanding action - got the attention of President Grover Cleveland, who ordered his Attorney General to act.  Federal Marshalls - strangely, paid and under the control of railroad company managers - and as many as 12,000 army troops were called in to enforce the America's first-ever back to work order. Predictably, violence broke out, resulting in the death of at least 30 people and causing millions of dollars in physical damage and lost opportunity. The boycott ended by mid July; union leaders were jailed for violation of the injunction; but the strike against the Pullman Palace Car Company did not end until August 2.  

1894 was a midterm election year.  In the shadow of the Pullman strike and boycott, a concession to labor:  on June 28, 1894, a bill creating a national holiday called Labor Day, to be observed the first Monday of September every year, was approved by Congress and signed by the President. Interestingly, the law was silent on the subject of holiday pay, an almost completely unknown concept in 1894.

[images are from Wikipedia Commons and are public domain due to age]

Friday, August 29, 2014

Railroad Days 2014

Snoqualmie Railroad Days 2014 was a spectacular success, featuring the first operating steam locomotive in 25 years, the Santa Cruz Portland Cement 2.  More than 2,000 people took an excursion or tour, and an estimated 12,000 visitors attended at least one event or activity.  A grand parade, fun run, Legends Car Show, live music, history reenactors from Fort Nisqually, timber sports demonstrations and more made this Snoqualmie Railroad Days one to remember! 

Snoqualmie Railroad Days is a community event managed and hosted by the Northwest Railway Museum.  This 76th annual festival was held August 15 - 17, and was made possible by the generous support of the Snoqualmie Indian Tribe, City of Snoqualmie, All Weather Heating, Snoqualmie Valley Hospital District, and Carmichael's True Value Hardware.  And support from the YMCA and their awesome volunteers made the Children's Field of Fun truly successful.

Among the many events and activities were the history reenactors from Fort Nisqually, the recreated Hudson's Bay fort in Tacoma's Point Defiance Park.  Volunteers provide living history demonstrations at the fort and graciously agreed to visit Snoqualmie Railroad Days. These dedicated volunteers demonstrated how rope was made, gave cooking demonstrations, displayed children's vintage games, performed blacksmith demonstrations, and more.

Art in the Park, supported by Snoqualmie Arts Commission, featured Arts and Craft demonstrations, displays of artwork, and live music at and Redmond Ridge Winery stage. Local artists including carvers, painters, quilters, and potters were on hand throughout the event.  

The Legends Car Show was held on Sunday, August 17 during Railroad Days.  More than 100 classic and antique cars were on exhibit all day, staged along Railroad Avenue in the center of historic downtown Snoqualmie.  This remarkable show was the largest-ever in Snoqualmie, and featured a wide variety of vehicles.  A variety of awards were made to exhibiting autos too, and visitors helped choose the winners.

Many other activities contributed to the success, and the very essence of Snoqualmie Railroad Days.  A variety of craft and home-based vendors exhibited and marketed their unique and interesting products.  Local honey producers, clothing, and even book dealers were set up along Railroad Avenue.

One of many highlights was a concert by Spike and the Impalers, (no connection to this author!) and their well known members Bob, Spike, and Joe.  These gentlemen were the talent behind the Bob Rivers Show, which recently retired from Seattle's KJR-FM. Awesome sound that this Spike can still feel!

For the City of Snoqualmie, forest products had the greatest economic impact of the 20th Century.  So how appropriate would a timber sports demonstration be in celebrating the community's history? Quite!  The Moses Family and many others put on an awesome demonstration of logging skills in the park adjacent to the Snoqualmie River. Featured events included axe throwing, and whip saw and chain saw competition.

Trains and engines were also part of Snoqualmie Railroad Days.  The United Northwest Model Railroad Club set up model trains and operated throughout the event. Coach 218 operated all weekend allowing hundreds of people to experience an authentic excursion in a 1912 coach complete with mohair-covered seats, mahogany paneling, and a hardwood floor.  And of course all the trains were pulled or pushed by steam locomotive Santa Cruz Portland Cement 2, courtesy of owner Stathi Pappas and event sponsors.