Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Got a little baggage?

The Great Northern Railway is one of the Northwest's greatest railways and the Northwest Railway Museum is delighted to have baggage car 485 in its collection. The 485 was built in 1921 by Pullman as heavy weight sleeper Epicurus, which was owned and operated by that company as part of their famous sleeping car service. Following retirement in 1948, Great Northern purchased this and several additional cars to convert to rider mail storage cars, which appeared as baggage cars for many passengers on trains of that day.  Later, the car was assigned to the maintenance of way department and carried car number 968060, and as its final assignment was used as part of the Burlington Northern Railroad's Operation Lifesaver public crossing safety outreach program.  The car was donated to the Northwest Railway Museum in 1986. 

Recently, 485 received some limited rehabilitation. Deteriorated external panels at each corner were renewed and some minor body defects were repaired. The car body was smoothed and primed.  There were minor mechanical repairs performed.  Then the spectacular orange and green "Empire Builder" paint scheme was applied.  Time constrains imposed by this year's Santa Train schedule did not allow lettering to be applied at this time, and the three inch gray stripe along the bottom is temporarily missing too.  But given its prior oxide brown exterior, the recent work represents a positive step forward in responsible collection care.  The total investment is more than $7,500 and benefited from the contribution of more that 400 volunteer hours, including the invaluable assistance of trustees from a local prison.  Kudos to the Museum's staff shipwright Gary James who did all the layout, which was a vital yet particularly tedious part of the job.  And special thanks to the fine folks at the Minnesota Transportation Museum in Minneapolis who shared the paint color codes.


Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Scenes from the Education Center dedication

Saturday, October 8, 2016 was dedication day for the Railway Education Center ("REC"), the third phase in the development of the Railway History Center campus in Snoqualmie. While some work remains to be completed, the building is enclosed, the heat is on, the restrooms work, and at the dedication everyone could tour the building!  

The event was modest and straight-forward.  It included a special train ride; dedication speeches by Washington State Representative Chad Magendanz, Snoqualmie Mayor pro tem Bob Jeans, Museum Board President Dennis Snook and Museum Executive Director Richard Anderson; and refreshments consisting of hot cider, cake, and cookies.  During the event, many of the more than 200 guests posed along the front of the Railway Education Center for a group photo.

Museum staff and a number of guests added a special touch: period clothing. Even Deputy Director Jessie Cunningham and Executive Director Richard Anderson participated, each wearing their own representation of early 20th or late 19th Century attire! (Usually only Registrar Cristy Lake and Marketing Manager Peggy Barchi participate.)

Highlighting some of the important points concerning this latest phase, Executive Director Anderson said, "This third phase of the Railway History Center is actually critical mass for the Museum.   This latest facility allows the Museum to operate exhibits independent of train operation, and allows extended visits with train operation.  With this new facility, the Museum will be able to expand the size of audience and significantly increase the length of visit.  These factors are important not only to the success of the Museum, but increase its economic impact in the community."

He continued, "The Museum has been developing what came to be known as the Railway History Center for most of its history.  The more concerted effort has taken place over the last fifteen years, with active construction beginning about 11 years ago.  This latest effort called the Railway Education Center, is the third phase, and actually completes the original museum scope envisioned 60 years ago. And What makes this project and the museum successful?  It certainly isn’t one or two people, it is a diverse team and includes trustees, staff and volunteers.  So whether it is a trustee who makes a substantial financial contribution, a volunteer who contributes material to the library, or a staff member who fills out a grant application, all of the team members are vital to the project success.  But there is another important element: community.  The City of Snoqualmie and its current and former mayors and council, it is the community members, it’s the county, and the State.

"And what makes this project and the museum successful?  It certainly isn’t one or two people, it is a diverse team and includes trustees, staff and volunteers.  So whether it is a trustee who makes a substantial financial contribution, a volunteer who contributes material to the library, or a staff member who fills out a grant application, all of the team members are vital to the project success.  But there is another important element: community.  The City of Snoqualmie and its current and former mayors and council, it is the community members, it’s the county, and the State."



Anderson added, "I have personally been working on museum development for the Northwest Railway Museum since I accepted this job almost 22 years ago.  I believed in the Museum’s mission then, and I continue to believe in it now.  It encompasses a vision that is not a library or an exhibit hall, not a steam train or a railroad bridge, it isn’t a book or a locomotive, and it is neither a short experience nor a long one.  It is all of these things that together present a cohesive and compelling story about how the railroad shaped settlement and development in the Pacific Northwest.  Thank you for being here today to help us celebrate this achievement, and welcome to the Railway Education Center."

Monday, September 19, 2016

Railway Education Center nearing completion

Cladding is being applied to the exterior
The new Railway Education Center at the Northwest Railway Museum is rapidly approaching completion. Just in the last few weeks, crews have been completing the electrical work, installing heating and air conditioning duct work, applying gypsum board, and applying steel cladding to the exterior. The building dedication is set for October 8 so the pressure is on!

Scaffolding allows workers to install
the special air handling system in the
vault. 
Special air handling is being installed in the archival vault. It will maintain relative humidity around 40% and the temperature at between 60 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit. The vault incorporates approximately 800 square feet and will feature extended height compact rolling shelving along with a very high floor load rating. An enormous volume of material will be accommodated in this purpose-built space that is being protected with a "clean agent" FM-200 non-aqueous fire suppression system.

The women's restroom will feature seven
stalls.  Hopefully, no one will ever have
to wait.
Another notable feature of the new Railway Education Center is the restroom. The combined total of "receptacles" is 14, exceeding the Snoqualmie Depot count of just eight. This will improve the visitor experience during major events that may be held at the new museum campus and ensure - or so Spike sincerely hopes - that families with young children are comfortable visiting for longer periods of time.

The classroom is really taking shape!
A primary feature of the new center is a classroom to accommodate school groups, lecture series, rules instruction, traveling exhibits, and more.  Adjacent storage rooms will allow for maximum flexibility so the room configuration can be almost infinitely modified. An adjacent kitchen will provide support for larger and longer events too, as well as support for Halloween and Santa Train!

Attic storage.  Note fire suppression
piping to the right.
Up in the attic a clever feature is being installed. With the building's massive foundation and structure to allow a library and archival vault, the attic area is receiving a special records storage unit. Important museum records that are not part of the archival collection will be stored in fireproof file cabinets located in the attic area and accessed with a retractable ladder. (The fireproof file cabinets are further protected with a fire suppression system.) Most business records are kept for not longer than 7 years so the room has been set up to allow the easy removal and disposal of materials once their life cycle has been completed.

The "front" elevation of the Railway
Education Center.
During some construction days there are more than 20 workers on the site making for rather congested working conditions. Substantial completion is scheduled for October, small and punch list items will be worked on in November and December, and the "move in" time horizon remains in early 2017. Meanwhile, fundraising continues and your contribution to help assure completion of this important new facility and the programs it will allow will be acknowledged on a donor board in the new foyer.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

A friend's anniversary

The 15 runs around the train at Ruth as
it prepares for a return to Chehalis.
There are a variety of interesting and ambitious projects underway at the Northwest Railway Museum, but there are many great noteworthy happenings at other area museums too. The Northwest Railway Museum is delighted to share a shout out for the Chehalis-Centralia Railroad and Museum, located about two hours drive from Snoqualmie. They have just marked a milestone event and Spike is honored to have been invited.  

On Saturday, September 17, 2016  the Chehalis-Centralia group celebrated the 100th anniversary of their star attraction, steam locomotive 15. The 15 is the Cowlitz, Chehalis and Cascade No. 15, a Baldwin-built 2-8-2 “Mikado” type steam locomotive.  Surviving 100 years for any railroad artifact is an achievement in its own right, but keeping it running is an even greater achievement.  Just this year the 15 returned to service after some major repairs and already has delighted thousands of visitors.  The group will operate the 15 on Saturdays through the end of September, at Halloween and again before Christmas.  Congratulations to the Chehalis-Centralia Railroad and Museum!


Monday, September 12, 2016

Spokane Portland and Seattle Railway Historical Association

The Spokane Portland and Seattle Railway Historical Association held their 2016 annual convention in Fife, Washington.  Field trips included a trip to the Northwest Railway Museum at Snoqualmie, Washington to see the rehabilitation work that has been recently performed on Spokane, Portland and Seattle coach 218, combine 272, and coach 276.

The SP&S Railway Historical Society is based in the Northwest and has a mission to preserve the history of the once-proud railway that was jointly owned by the Northern Pacific and the Great Northern Railways.  The mainline in Washington extended between Vancouver and Spokane, with a branch south from Wishram to Bend, Oregon, and another from Portland, Oregon to Seaside, Oregon. The Oregon Electric Railway division operated between Portland and Eugene, Oregon.

The visit included a tour of the entire railway line. Naturally, this included travel on rehabilitated Spokane, Portland and Seattle Railway coaches. The 1912-built coach 218 and 1915-built 272 traveled from North Bend to Snoqualmie Falls and return. The beautiful 75 degree weather made the experience all the better too!

The SP& S Railway Historical Association has been very supportive of the Museum's rehabilitation efforts on SP&S coaches.  This visit was an opportunity to share the successes in preserving SP&S's history, but also the efforts on other artifacts including chapel car 5 Messenger of Peace.  Participants were able to walk through the cars and talk with the collection technicians that performed the work.


The tour also included a visit to the Train Shed exhibit building where participants were able to view a variety of rail history artifacts guided by a trained docent. 



Monday, August 22, 2016

Snoqualmie Railroad Days 2016

The Northwest Railway Museum has successfully hosted another successful Snoqualmie Railroad Days!  The event was a success with the support and participation of a variety of community organizations including the Snoqualmie Tribe, Snoqualmie Valley Chamber of Commerce, City of Snoqualmie, Fort Nisqually re-enactors, and the Legends Car Club.  Steam trains, live music, almost 200 classic cars, local artists, awesome wine and beer, and timber sports demonstrations were just some of the highlights. Dozens of volunteers representing many local businesses were also an important factor the success of this event.  Check our photos of this year's festival: