This 2015 continued a major multiyear effort to improve the passenger car fleet. In the first part of the year Spokane, Portland and Seattle Railway coach 276 received an all-new standing seam lower clerestory roof complete with high performance paint job. At the same time, a great deal interior work, refurbished vestibule traps and doors, and assorted running gear work was completed.
Spokane, Portland and Seattle Railway coach 213 – an all wood car body with steel center sill - received a rebuilt A end wood vestibule components as well as a rebuilt upper diaphragm support, floor and roof repairs, interior paint, and interior header work.
Oregon, Washington, Railroad and Navigation Company (Union Pacific) observation car 1590 saw significant replacement of the steel underframe cross bracing replaced, a new leaf spring, side bearing work, floor repairs, roof repairs, and brake system work.
Combine SP and S 272 was not left out and received several new steel roof panels, several new headers, rehabilitated clerestory windows, and several new coach section windows.
Chapel car Messenger of Peace received new replica lighting and additional interior finishing work. It was also moved to its long term exhibition location inside the Train Shed.
New exhibits have been introduced too. “The Railroad changed everything” debuted in the Train Shed exhibit building in fall 2015. Earlier in 2015, “Railroads built the Pacific Northwest” was introduced. These are just the first two of many new exhibits planned for the Train Shed.
2015 was an important year for the City of Snoqualmie too. A major reconstruction of downtown Snoqualmie valued at more than $3 million was completed. It features a new boardwalk just across the tracks from the Snoqualmie Depot, new landscaping, and a 42 inch fence to deter trespassing on the tracks.
A great number of improvements to the Conservation and Restoration Center (shop) facility occurred in 2015 with the acquisition of several large machines including a 48" vertical turret lathe, Cincinnati 5 milling machine, Clemco 1000 48" belt sander/surfacer, 18" American lathe, Carelton radial drill, Grizzly edge sander, Gould and Eberhart 24" shaper, Dewalt planer/surface, wheel press, as well as numerous hand tools and supplies.
Steam locomotives have been the really big story in 2015 with significant changes, and progress towards a sustainable steam program. Curator Pappas' SCPC 2 received a great deal of work in the first half of the year to improve performance and economy. Piston rods were turned and ground, new packing installed, guides remachined and lined, rear cylinder heads lapped in, ring grooves trued, and new rings installed. This allowed for the Northwest Railway Museum’s first full steam season in more than 25 years, which was a tremendous success with ridership increases, crew training, and enhanced public education.
Northern Pacific Railway steam locomotive 924 – the Museum’s Rogers-built 1898 0-6-0 - saw a great deal of progress towards its operational rehabilitation and restoration to its circa 1906 appearance. In 2015, a new riveted slope back cistern was built for the tender, in house asbestos abatement completed, form 4 boiler engineering finished, a new riveted steam done constructed and installed, new steam dome lid machined, firebox side sheets fabricated and welded in, and a new cap stack fabricated to match historic photographs circa 1906.
The Museum’s diesel fleet also saw improvements with the conversion of RS4-TC 4012 from a direct drive cooling fan to a battery of temperature-controlled electric cooling fans using off-the-shelf components for improved reliability. This conversion keeps the locomotive’s diesel engine operating temperature within two or three degrees of optimal, which improves efficiency and reduces wear. The new cooling design mimics what modern locomotives use and has proven very reliable. Very importantly, locomotive 4012 received new batteries in 2015. New "Rolls" locomotive batteries were installed at the beginning of the season and have really helped with cool weather starts.
The Snoqualmie Depot received some important work too. The two waiting room floors were refinished and the Depot Bookstore was relocated into the ladies’ waiting room. It had been located in the gentlemen’s waiting room since the early 1980s. This change is allowing improved programming. For instance, Santa Train 2015 used the newly available gentlemen's waiting room as Santa's parlor.
All in all it has been a great year for the Northwest Railway Museum. Major events have been some of the best attended ever, ridership is up, and 2016 looks to be even better with ground breaking coming soon for the new Railway Education Center, changes to the operating schedule so that passengers get to visit the collection within the Train Shed exhibit building, and the continued rehabilitation and restoration of the collections.