Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Railway gospel

Research on the Chapel Car Messenger of Peace will continue for years, and months will pass without any new discoveries. April 2009 was not one of those months. In that month, a tattered but complete brochure allegedly distributed from the Messenger of Peace arrived at the Museum.

In 1899 the Baptist Publication Society published a promotional leaflet entitled “The Gospel on Wheels.” Simple by 21st Century standards, there is little doubt considerable thought and expense went into the production of this tri-fold publication. It is printed in blue ink on smooth white paper and includes a description of chapel car work, statistics such as number of conversions, and a brief listing of the other six cars’ assignments. What is really interesting is how the publisher – a religious organization - linked the chapel car and its mission to the railroad. Notably, the front cover is adorned with four familiar railroad terms and each is paired with a Biblical citation:

Satisfying refreshments served enroute – Psalms 103:5

Stopping places – Mark 16:15

Note-passengers will not be allowed to stand on the platform – Luke 14:28

The terminus – Rev 22:14

Now check out the actual passages and compare:

Psalms 103:5 Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Mark 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye unto all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

Luke 14:28 And the Lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and the hedges and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.

Rev 22:14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.

Railway history takes in many interesting and often seemingly unrelated directions, but all the details are important in attempting to understand the impact and influence of the railroad on our society.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Going Once, Going Twice

The level of excitement is building as the Save Our Rails fundraiser draws near. Tickets to the event are selling fast, but great seats for dinner at the Woodman Lodge are still available. April 30, 2009 will be an evening to remember, with a wonderful dinner, train ride, wine tasting and silent auction.

Train excursions to the top of Snoqualmie Falls will depart from the Snoqualmie Depot throughout the evening. A wine tasting featuring South American and Italian wines will be happening along with a silent auction. Auction items are pouring in and the bidding should be brisk. Items donated for the auction include “Engineer for a Hour,” an overnight stay and breakfast at the Salish Lodge & Spa, and a beach chair and towel from Costco. (Yes, you will need it soon; summer is coming!)

So, call 425.888.4441 and secure your tickets today. You won’t want to miss it!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Signal repairs

North Bend's Bendigo Street railroad crossing is fully repaired following efforts led by signal maintainer Jon B. and assisted by Steve P., Issac F., and Dan C. A beautiful April 24 saw temperatures soar to 66 degrees and the crew of four made quick work of the assignment. Completing this work will allow trains to operate through this crossing without restriction beginning Saturday, 25 April 2009. (Click here for current schedules.)

Technically, a new Safetran model S-40 gate mechanism was installed in the west quadrant. Heavy rains that precipitated the January 7 & 8 flooding infiltrated and damaged this crossing gate mechanism on Bendigo Street. Temporary repairs allowed the crossing signals to function normally up until now, but complete replacement for "permanent" repair was required because it was not practical to fully repair this 30 year-old model S gate. The old gate mechanism was disconnected and lifted off with the Museum's Pettibone Speedswing; then a new one was hoisted into place. The entire procedure took 5 hours and replacement parts cost over $6,000; this in another in a series of flood-related repairs that when completed will total $116,000.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Boxcar completed

Volunteers lead by Rich W. have completed a modest effort to rehabilitate a 1932-built Northern Pacific Railway boxcar. Working inside the Conservation and Restoration Center over a three month period, the car is presented as it appeared in July 1953 after being shopped in Duluth, MN. (Click here to view an earlier post described the importance of boxcars.)

Work performed this year focused on preservation (stopping deterioration) and rehabilitation (reversing damage). At the beginning of the process, workers searched the carbody for evidence of lettering both for font style and location. Traces of nearly all lettering from the last shopping were found. Also noteworthy were the wide variety of mineral red samples found on the car.

Now damaged wood has been stabilized with epoxy, the entire wood carbody has been primed with an epoxy primer, the nailer/fascia board has been replaced, minor tears in the sheet metal roof have been patched, the hand brake has been repaired, the air valves have been serviced, all other surfaces have been cleaned and repaired as needed, and the car has been lettered using a paint mask. Color coats were applied with conventional alkyd enamels and are expected to fade on exposure to sunlight just as the original railway-applied mineral red did. Total cost of materials was nearly $2,000; over 400 hours were donated to the effort.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Hippity Hoppity

The Easter Bunny visited the Northwest Railway Museum a little early this year. He left a treat for all the children who ride the Museum’s antique train this weekend. Come to Snoqualmie, purchase your train tickets, and if you’re 12 years of age or less, ask the ticket agent for your special gift.

Trains depart Snoqualmie at 12:01, 1:31 and 3:01. They travel to North Bend and back through Snoqualmie, continuing on to just past Snoqualmie Falls. At 3:41 PM there is a special run just to the falls and back to Snoqualmie.

It’s a great weekend to experience the Snoqualmie Valley and all it has to offer: beautiful scenery and hiking opportunities, many visitor-friendly parks, and great local places to shop and dine. And you can see much of it aboard the Northwest Railway Museum’s scenic train excursion.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Save Our Rails!

Flood recovery is nearly complete and now it’s time to pay the piper! So we’re planning a fun evening on April 30 at the Woodman Lodge to help raise funds to pay for the repairs. Save Our Rails will be held Thursday, April 30, 5:30 PM - 8:30 PM and there will be several seating options throughout the evening. If you have not eaten at the Woodman's Lodge, this is a great opportunity to try it out!

The Woodman Lodge is the new steakhouse that opened in downtown Snoqualmie's restored Odd Fellows Hall last summer. (This building is located right behind the Snoqualmie Depot and is also a City of Snoqualmie Landmark.) They will be offering a choice of 4 delicious entrees, along with music and a unique atmosphere. The evening will also include a short excursion to Snoqualmie Falls on the Museum’s just-repaired railway. A silent auction will feature a handful of truly unique items including a very rare opportunity to be a locomotive engineer for an hour!

Save Our Rails tickets are $85 each or $150 per couple; a portion of the ticket price may be available to you as a tax deduction. For tickets and information, please call (425) 888-4441, email or click here to read the news release.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Beautiful Day for a Ride

It’s an ideal weekend for a scenic train ride through the Snoqualmie Valley. Many people took advantage of the beautiful spring weather today and rode the Museum’s train, traveling through the towns of Snoqualmie and North Bend and even stopping to overlook the gorge beyond Snoqualmie Falls.

Don’t worry-you didn’t miss it. Come out tomorrow and enjoy a day in the valley. Trains depart from the historic Snoqualmie Depot at 12:01 PM, 1:31 PM, 3:01 PM, and 3:41 PM. You may also depart from North Bend. See the train schedule under Regular Trains on this web site for more details.

Bring a picnic to enjoy in the yard at the depot or stop for lunch at one of the many wonderful restaurants in Snoqualmie or North Bend. Spring has arrived!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Artifact scholarship

Artifact scholarship? Perhaps the gentle reader will now suggest that my name Spike references the additives in my coffee, but why shouldn't we study the artifacts we care for? "Scholarship" is learning and the artifacts at the Northwest Railway Museum have many stories to tell, we just need to learn how to read them. Is our assumption of its origin correct? Was it really painted green? What was the number? Where was it made? Did it have 20 windows or 40? We can’t always answer these questions but often a study of the artifact can provide strong evidence as to the likelihood.

On March 28, 2009, noted wood rail car expert Glenn Guerra from Guerra Museum Services of Wisconsin visited the Museum to conduct a 4Culture-funded condition assessment and treatment plan for Chapel Car 5 Messenger of Peace. Messenger of Peace is already better documented than most objects in the collection, but it still has many secrets to reveal. Built in 1898, it is a true wood car and is a rare surviving example from the golden age of railcar construction.

Take this apparently plain yet very heavy door from Messenger of Peace shown laying on a set of saw horses inside the CRC. A preliminary examination suggests it was constructed from white oak and has multiple coats of paint. A closer examination of the top edge finds a series of stampings, a common feature on railway car doors and windows because they were often removed at regular intervals for servicing.
The experience of Glenn Guerra suggested sanding the paint off in the center of the door. Then more sanding, this time by hand with 320 grit wet/dry sand paper and mineral spirits. Still more sanding, still by hand but with 600 grit wet/dry sand paper and mineral spirits. Carefully, the surface was wiped with alcohol. (Earlier testing confirmed that the “original” finish was shellac and it will dissolve in alcohol but not mineral spirits.) About two hours were invested in this "scholarship" and the results are real and lasting: the now 111-year-old builder's original guilded and hand lettered "name plate" has been identified, recorded and preserved. Check it out for yourself - click on the image to view a larger version.