Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Thanks for supporting the Parlor Car!

Thanks to Give BIG more than $13,000 has been raised in support of moving the Parlor Car off the beach on Whidbey Island!  The former Northern Pacific Railway passenger car was built by Pullman in 1901 and was retired in 1941.  Adaptively reused as a cottage for more than 75 years, this incredibly complete early 20th Century wood passenger car will be moved to the Northwest Railway Museum, hopefully later this season.

Again, thank you to everyone who supported Give BIG 2017!

Monday, May 8, 2017

Saving a Pullman parlor car

Help the Northwest Railway Museum save a Pullman parlor car. GiveBIG today!

In the Golden Age of Rail Travel the parlor car was emblematic of luxury travel. Designed for day travel, this extra-fare car provided more room, individual seats, and often even a car attendant available at the push of a button.  

Parlor cars began to appear on American railroads in the 19th Century as an alternative to the classless coach seating of the era, which featured simpler and less comfortable seating.  And parlor cars tended to attract better-dressed and more refined individuals, and were the de facto first class seating equivalency to European railroads.  

Most Golden Age parlor cars were constructed of wood.  Many were retired and scrapped prior to World War II, and still fewer survived into the 1950s.  Yet one example was retired in 1941, purchased by a retired railroad man, and re-purposed as a seaside cottage on Whidbey Island in Washington State's Puget Sound. 

Northern Pacific Railway parlor car 1799 has been protected by a shelter and is largely intact.  Now owned by the Shaw Family, the car has been donated to the Northwest Railway Museum provided it can be removed from the island as soon as possible.

Join us in supporting acquisition of this Pullman-built parlor car with GiveBIG on May 10, 2017!  Contributions made through the Museum’s Seattle Foundation gateway between midnight and and 11:59 PM on Wednesday, May 10 will support transportation of parlor car 1799 to Snoqualmie.  As in prior years, this is an online initiative so donations are accepted only through the Museum’s Seattle Foundation gateway.   And you can schedule your donation anytime between now and May 10th!

Give Big proceeds will be used exclusively for transportation costs, which may approach $67,000 for this car that weighs more than 80,000 pounds. Once received by the Museum, the process of listing, funding, and restoring the car will begin and when completed it will be able to operate with the Museum’s former Northern Pacific Railway steam locomotive 924.  Please Give Big today!

Monday, May 1, 2017

New paint for antique locomotives

The Northwest Railway Museum interprets the role railroads played in the development and settlement of the Pacific Northwest, but it also provides the public with an opportunity to experience the excitement of a working railroad.  

Sister Air Force locomotive 4010,
Circa 1955.
The mainstays of the operating railroad are two 1953-built Baldwin locomotives that were formerly owned by the US Army. Their black paint scheme was oh so appropriate for their roles in the aftermath of the Six Day War, training soldiers in Virginia, provisioning bases in West Germany, or warehousing weapons at the chemical munitions depot in Oregon.  However, black is a difficult color to use in marketing the Museum.  Dark colors such as maroon are only a slight improvement.

A few years ago, the Museum initiated a branding effort and engaged Eye of Eye in Everett, WA to develop a new image. Later, a Board of Trustees-led effort developed a locomotive painting scheme in support of that image.  Earlier this year, the first locomotive entered the Conservation and Restoration Center for a general clean up, then preparation and priming to receive the new paint.  Former US Army 4024 was the first to receive the new livery; 4012 will follow later this year. 

Special thanks go out to Ronald Macdonald at Wesco for his help in matching paint samples, and to the great team at Fast Signs for their efforts in developing the paint masks for lettering the locomotive.

Cleaning and sanding.  A vacuum sanding system did wonders
for keeping dust under control.

Imron 2.8 polyester primer was used to seal the surface and
help make the locomotive's sheeting more rust resistant.

Imron 3.5 HG was used for the color coats.  Orange is a
particularly difficult color to apply so multiple coats were
required.  Numbering and chevron striping will be added later.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Happy 20th, Meadowbrook Farm!

The Northwest Railway Museum shares borders with many fabulous individuals and organizations. One of the largest neighbors is the Meadowbrook Farm, a public open space that preserves a prairie dating back prior to European/American settlement, to Native American settlements of the Snoqualmie Tribe.  By 1890, this prairie had become the world's largest hop ranch.

Meadowbrook Farm is central to the Snoqualmie Valley and incorporates land in both the Cities of Snoqualmie and North Bend.  A variety of public and private funders and organizations contributed to the assembly of more than 400 acres of public open space, which today is best known as the signature open space between Snoqualmie and North Bend.  It is also the open space that borders the Northwest Railway Museum, and helps preserve the context of this representative Washington State branch line.  Consequently, more than two miles of right of way will continue to border open space rather than housing developments.

This month marks the 20th anniversary of the public open space purchase that created today's Meadowbrook Farm. The Northwest Railway Museum congratulates Local, Regional and State officials who cooperated to create this jewel of the Snoqualmie Valley, and the many local volunteers who contributed their time an talent to make this dream a reality!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Lighting up an anniversary

The Snoqualmie Depot is the Northwest Railway Museum's most recognizable landmark, and its signature exhibit.  Built in 1890, the Depot is a City of Snoqualmie, Washington Landmark, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  It is the centrepiece of historic downtown Snoqualmie and receives more than 80,000 visitors per year.

2017 is a Landmark year for the Northwest Railway Museum. It marks the 60th anniversary of the Museum, and the 50th anniversary of the Museum's excursion trains at the Museum in Snoqualmie. The Museum's Board of Trustees is marking the occasion with a notable improvement to the Depot: installation of a replica lamp to the gentlemen's waiting room. The lamp was produced by W.T. Kirkman of Ramona, CA and arrived in April 2017.

The Snoqualmie Depot opened during the late Victorian period when it was not uncommon for public facilities to provide separate accommodation for unescorted ladies. So the Depot was constructed with a separate ladies' and gentlemen's waiting room.  The largest and most distinctive room in the Depot is the gentlemen's waiting room. It features a semicircular wall, beautiful colored glass windows, and tongue and groove wall paneling. The clear vertical grain Douglas fir floor is another notable feature. And now, so is a replica of a 19th Century kerosene chandelier!

Special thanks to the 2016 Northwest Railway Museum Board of Trustee members whose contributions made this project possible. Now, we can light up an anniversary to remember!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Diamond Jubilee

Happy Anniversary! The Northwest Railway Museum was incorporated on March 14, 1957, 60 years ago today.  This Washington State nonprofit organization has come along way from its humble beginnings, and it continues to grow each year.  Check out a few photo highlights from the last 60 years, and enjoy the music courtesy of Tinkham Road.


Sunday, February 26, 2017

Apples along the tracks

A visit to the Northwest Railway Museum provides you with an opportunity to connect with other local history.  As you ride the train, look closely and you can see history of the Snoqualmie Valley all around you: The rock cut at Snoqualmie Falls.  Landmark buildings along the main streets of downtown North Bend and Snoqualmie. Farmers, native meadows, and bogs. The original road between North Bend and Snoqualmie that parallels the track. In short, the valley's own railroad is intimately tied to the history that surrounds it. Recently the story behind another one of those sights was rediscovered, the story of an historic apple orchard that predates the track.  But first, some history.

European settlers come to the valley

The Snoqualmie Valley has been home of the Snoqualmie People since time immemorial. However, in 1855 there were two major events that would forever change the landscape. In January, the Treaty of Point Elliott was signed by tribal representatives granting their land to the United States, which allowed American settlers to move into the Snoqualmie Valley. In August, Frederick W. Lander's Pacific Railroad Survey party successfully surveyed Snoqualmie Pass. These two events laid foundation for the railway's arrival in the Valley. 

When the Treaty of Point Elliott was signed, tribal members were required to relocate from their home villages to several small reservations around the Territory. Within weeks of the signing, word spread among the Native Americans that their leaders had signed their land away.  There was unrest and rumors of potential war.  Snoqualmie Chief Patkanim decided to ally the Snoqualmie People with the Washington Territorial forces because he believed that joining with the stronger force might better ensure the survival of their people. He worked with his council and convinced Chief Saniwa to support the American side if there was to be a war.

In 1856, just a year after the treaty was signed, settlers in Seattle feared that the Yakama were going to come over Snoqualmie Pass and attack Seattle.  Twenty-five Washington Territory Militia men and seventy-five Snoqualmie Soldiers were selected to guard the pass from potential attack.  They built five small forts in the Valley next to several of the Snoqualmie villages.  Two minor skirmishes occurred, but the rumored invasion never happened. The forts were abandoned in the fall, but the next spring several of the militia men returned and set up farms, likely on pre-existing Snoqualmie fields.

Two years later, in 1858, Jeremiah Borst settled at present-day Meadowbrook (in Snoqualmie).  Borst had earlier passed through the valley while en-route to visit his sister Diana Collins on the Duwamish River (present-day Seattle) and it made an impression on him. Collins and her family had arrived in Seattle in 1851 as the first American party to settle in what is now King County, followed shortly thereafter by the now famous Denny party. Within a decade, Jeremiah Borst’s niece Lucinda Collins Fares and her husband Joseph also moved to the Valley, along with her brother Stephen Collins.

Lander’s 1854 survey of the Snoqualmie Pass (a component of the Pacific Railroad Survey) laid the ground work for the Snoqualmie Valley’s connection to the outside world.  Prior to the 1860s, travelling to the Snoqualmie Valley was no easy task.  There were two common modes of travel to Seattle: 1) a two week canoe journey down the Snoqualmie River to the Snohomish River to Everett followed by a sea-going journey from Everett to Seattle on the Puget Sound waterways, and 2) a multi-day overland hike on paths barely passable to horses over the hills and mountains between Fall City and Issaquah, and then a series of canoe journeys and hikes from Lake Sammamish, the Black River and Lake Washington.  

Stories tell of Borst hiking from Duwamish to the Valley with loads of apple saplings on his back to plant his first orchard on Meadowbrook Farm.  (The remains of the original Borst orchard on Meadowbrook were destroyed in the early 2000s when Mount Si High School redeveloped the sports fields.) He used the apples he harvested to feed hogs and then shipped salted hams by canoe to Everett and then on to Seattle. With Lander’s and other subsequent surveys, transportation was simplified in 1865 with the construction of the Snoqualmie Pass Wagon Road. This road construction was led by Borst and Arthur Denny, and allowed rough wagon travel between the Valley and Seattle in just two days.

During this era Jeremiah Borst became one of the largest land holders in the area. He loaned money to settlers to help them homestead, but then took over their properties as repayment if they could not make it. In 1867, Joseph and Lucinda Fares homestead land, later known as Tollgate, was improved by constructing a house and converted the remains of one of the 1856 forts into their barn.

In 1883 the road over the pass was improved and converted into a toll road.  The Fares farm became the western toll station thereby earning the name Tollgate Farm.  That same year, Jeremiah Borst purchased the property to help Lucinda Fare - who was in a deteriorating marriage - stay on at the farm. At that time, Borst constructed at least two additional houses on the Tollgate property, including one in what is today the triangular property between North Bend Way, the railroad tracks and the NW 8th railroad crossing.  During the period of the Fares-Borst family occupation of Tollgate Farm, the family operated a dairy, and also had an orchard. Lucinda was infamous for selling her sometimes rancid butter to the miners in Newcastle. Borst’s assistance was short lived, in 1886 Lucinda passed away shortly after her brother.  In 1890, Borst also passed and the farm underwent a series of owners prior to the Winlock Miller family taking it over. Many of the references to the orchard were from the Miller ownership period, so the date of orchard planting remains unknown.

Snoqualmie gets a railroad

In 1884 news that the Northern Pacific Railroad would terminate at Tacoma instead of Seattle led to incorporation of the Seattle Lake Shore and Eastern Railway.  Seattle's railroad was formed to build track between Seattle and Walla Walla via Snoqualmie Pass.  This planned railroad would help ensure Seattle remained the economic center of the Northwest, but would also put the Snoqualmie Valley on the map by creating improved access. 

Borst was excited about the new railroad and in anticipation platted the town of Fall City on some of his property holdings in the lower Snoqualmie Valley. In 1889 William Taylor - friend and former employee of Borst - platted North Bend.  Meanwhile stakeholders in the railway formed the Snoqualmie Land Improvement Company and platted Snoqualmie as a tourist destination. The railroad was surveyed to pass over the former Stephen Collins property (just Railroad East of the Stone Quarry between the current Railway History Center Campus and North Bend Way) and through the south part of Tollgate Farm including right through the middle of their orchard. 

The orchard rediscovery

For many years the exact location of the orchard had been lost, though there were scraps of evidence including seedling trees along North Bend Way, and orchard references in historical documents.  Yet the original trees were assumed to be long gone. 

Recently, local historians were exploring the Tollgate Farm to validate research conducted for the Tollgate Farm Park development plan.  In a "eureka" moment, they realized that the apple trees along the railroad tracks were not seedlings but part of the original apple orchard. Some of the evidence: the trees are all heritage varieties, of a substantial size, were obviously planted in surveyed rows, and are bisected by the tracks. At the time of rediscovery, all the trees were substantially overgrown with invasive Himalayan blackberry, which put them at risk. Because the tracks bisect the orchard, it suggests that the orchard was planted prior to 1889, during the Fares-Borst family occupation. It also makes it one of perhaps only a handful of pioneer orchards left in the area.

This winter the young men's faith-based character development group Trail Life offered to conduct a community service project for the Museum.  They agreed to help preserve the orchard by removing invasive blackberry bushes around several of the trees. This mitigation will help the ancient trees survive, and make it easier for visitors to see them. So on Saturday, February 25, members of Trail Life spent 29 hours clearing bushes from four of the trees along the railway. Thank you to Trail Life for helping begin the process of preserving this historic resource, and for helping preserve the railway's context.

This guest article was researched and written by Cristy Lake, Registrar and Volunteer Coordinator for the Northwest Railway Museum.  Ms. Lake is also the Assistant Director of the Snoqualmie Valley Historical Museum in North Bend.