Sunday, May 31, 2009

Washington Steam Railroads and Locomotives

May is National Historic Preservation month and it seems fitting to end the month with the re-launch of Washington Steam Railroads and Locomotives. Conceived by Brian Fritz in the mid 1990s, the site has been commonly known as WASteam and is dedicated to surviving Washington railroad history. [The attached photo shows Brian working on caboose 001 in 2002 at the Northwest Railway Museum.]

Brian Fritz was a local rail historian who was active in several regional railway heritage groups including the Northwest Railway Museum. Brian passed away unexpectedly in March 2007 and his family donated the web site to the Museum to perpetuate. This updated version of the site incorporates all of the original material that Mr. Fritz assembled but provides a newer, more browser-compatible design. Architecture is based on Plogger, web-based open source photo gallery software that was customized by NDC Web Design.

WASteam began as a site to highlight park and other steam locomotives preserved in Washington State. Later, Brian with the help of Roger Kirkpatrick, added a roster of surviving cabooses. (Roger authored "Captive Cabeese in America.") And the site also eventually included pages for most of the major heritage rail operations in the state. And as when Brian was with us, the site will continue to evolve to best meet the needs of the audience.

WASteam is hosted by Railfan.Net as a service to the railfan community. Railfan owner J. Henry Priebe, Jr. has been very generous in his support of the site, and he also provides similar support to other sites. Mr. Priebe has offered to continue hosting the site and the Northwest Railway Museum has gratefully accepted.

WASteam is continuing as a program of the Northwest Railway Museum. Material will be updated and newly identified resources will continue to be added. But its success is somewhat dependent upon its users. Without advice and input regarding Washington’s rich railroad heritage, this site cannot succeed. So the staff and volunteers of the Northwest Railway Museum look forward to hearing from you about resources in your Washington community.

Check out the new WASteam today!

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