Co-hosts Bob Jeans and Cindy Walker welcomed everyone and introduced several key people. 4Culture Executive Director Jim Kelly made additional introductions and spoke of the role and importance of historical organizations in preserving and interpreting American history, and the importance of culture and cultural organizations in a healthy community. A wonderful dinner was served by the TPC kitchen and the Issaquah Singers serenaded the patrons with a medley of railroad songs. During the evening a series of unique items including copies of photos from the Museum’s Oberg Collection were offered in a silent auction. Several items including an opportunity to run a locomotive were auctioned off. Following dinner, Gary Krist, author of The White Cascade: The Great Northern Railway and America's Deadliest Avalanche, presented a gripping presentation about the Wellington Disaster. (More about Gary Krist here.) Rare photos and an incredible narrative captivated the audience for nearly 45 minutes. The evening concluded with an informative question and answer session.
The Working on the Railroad benefit dinner in part commemorated the 100th anniversary of the Wellington Disaster, an avalanche that occurred March 1, 1910 at Wellington in Stevens Pass. (The disaster killed 96 people and is the most deadly North American avalanche.) The evening was also the formal launch of the Wellington Remembered exhibit and web site, an initiative to remember the community that was far more than the site of a disaster; it was a company town and a community from 1892 until 1929. Excerpts from the exhibit were on display in the TPC foyer and engendered considerable interest. (The exhibit itself appears in the Snoqualmie Depot freight room inside a model of a snow shed; shown at left is Executive Director Richard Anderson, Author Gary Krist, and Educator Jessie Cunningham as they toured Mr. Krist through the new exhibit.)
Working on the Railroad was made possible with the generous support of the community. We are grateful to Gary Krist for donating his time to speak about the Wellington Disaster. We also give thanks to the many businesses and individuals who contributed goods and services to the auction and dinner: Salish Lodge and Spa (overnight stay with breakfast), Jim M. (wine from the Bookwalter Vineyard), Allan W.(Hand-made candle box, wine butler & coaster holder), Cindy W.(Cedar River Watershed tour + gourmet lunch basket), North Bend Theatre (Evening at the theatre for you and your 250 closest friends), Infinite Possibilities (life coaching sessions), Betty L. (Leavenworth condo stay), Snoqualmie Falls Golf Course (round of golf), Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad (steam locomotive cab ride), Russ S.(hand-made wine rack), Down to Earth Photography (portrait session, photo of Snoqualmie Falls, & photos of the event), Carmichael's True Value Hardware (metal truck planter), Phil L. (auctioneer), Issaquah Singers (evening of railroad songs), THINK2A (graphics and marketing), ColorGraphics (printing), Thom W. (graphic design & layout), & Birches Habitat (photo frame for Gary Krist).
The Museum is very pleased with the results of the evening; proceeds will help support construction of the new Train Shed exhibit building now under construction in Snoqualmie. Support from the community and an enjoyable evening combined to create a memorable and repeatable event. We are all looking forward to another Working on the Railroad event this fall.