Thursday, October 29, 2009

Movie Night Nov 4 offers train scenes, suspense & fun

In less than a week, a one-of-a-kind theatre, a movie full of action and suspense, and a lively museum team up to offer you a casual evening out with family or friends. And the best part is . . .

Actually, there are a lot of “best parts” to next Wednesday’s movie night fundraiser for the Northwest Railway Museum.

For some it will be the great footage of Idaho’s Camas Prairie Railroad splashed across a big screen.

For others it will be not having to decide whether to spend extra money on popcorn and soda, because it’s all included in the $10 ticket price.

For others it will be knowing that part of their $10 goes to the new Train Shed exhibit building now under construction in Snoqualmie.

For still others it will be a sneak preview of a Wellington exhibit planned for next year, along with a Train Shed update, recent museum project highlights, and a personal welcome from Museum Executive Director Richard Anderson.

For me, it’s the fact that the museum keeps coming up with intriguing fundraisers that offer the community genuinely fun events directly relating to the museum’s mission, instead of following generic fundraiser models.

Whatever your “best part” is, we look forward to seeing you.

Breakheart Pass

Wednesday, Nov. 4, 7:00 PM

North Bend Theatre

125 Bendigo Blvd. N

Click here for directions

$10/person includes popcorn & soda

NO CREDIT CARDS accepted. Cash & checks only.
Cash machines next door at Cascade Bank and Bank of America.

Oh, so you want to know what the movie is about? Breakheart Pass, a 1975 film starring Charles Bronson, weaves a tale of an 1870 Army outpost, a conspiracy between a group of killers and a tribe of Indians, an undercover agent posing as an arrested criminal, the lure of gold and silver, plenty of deception, and a rescue train carrying medical supplies and assorted passengers. As the train crosses the Rocky Mountains, passengers are murdered one by one. . . . But that's all incidental, right? We're all coming for the scenes of a Camas Prairie steam locomotive and wooden railway cars.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Family attends Santa Train 37 years in a row

Dick and Charlsia Schall were enjoying a Sunday drive with their three children when they stumbled upon Santa Train and decided to hop aboard. That was 1972, and they haven’t missed a year since.

As they waited to board, Dick remembers watching a flagpole. When a pennant matching the color of their tickets was raised, it was their time to ride. A steam locomotive pulled the train from Route 202 about 1/4 mile into a forest where Snoqualmie Parkway is today. The Schalls stepped off the train and gathered around a bonfire, where they were served hot cocoa and homemade cookies.

Santa Train has evolved over the course of 40 years. (It began in 1969.) But cocoa and cookies remain a constant. Today, guests file through the museum’s historic railway kitchen car to receive cookies baked inside coal-burning stoves. Hot chocolate is warmed in a huge pot on top of the stove.

Why did the Schalls keep coming back? “It was good entertainment for the kids,” says Dick. “They liked to ride on the train.” OK, be honest now. Dick adds, “I have always been fond of the railroad and trains.”

That excitement over the train ride is another constant. “The kids all remain the same,” says Charlsia. “It’s still the same kind of family involvement.”

Dick, Charlsia, Tim, Peter and Andrick have attended Santa Train in sunshine, snow, sleet, rain, even floods. One year, Dick and Charlsia thought their children had outgrown the event. But when they announced they wouldn’t be going, one son would hear none of it. It was tradition. And now the tradition includes Dick and Charlsia’s granddaughters, Teagan and Shaleigh, as well.

The story doesn’t end there. In 1999, Dick and Charlsia began volunteering for Santa Train. In the years since, they’ve baked cookies, decorated the Snoqualmie Depot, assisted Santa, and led singing on the train. A young boy dubbed Dick “Mr. Bells,” because Dick wears bells on his cap to amuse toddlers. Their son Peter has also volunteered for Santa Train. And now, Dick and Charlsia volunteer at the Northwest Railway Museum year round once a week, helping with collection care, archiving, preparing mailings, and other vital projects.

So this year, ride Santa Train if you dare! You never know where it may lead.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Hoboes allowed on Halloween Train

If you’re looking for something creepy and frightening this Halloween . . . you won’t find it at Halloween Train.

Nothing here to spook the wee ones that love train rides so much. The Northwest Railway Museum offers three days of delight-filled, history-rich autumn fun for all ages: old-fashioned cider press demos, a train ride of course, a craft to make and keep, a model train display, and bluesy ballads and fiddle tunes performed live by the Holy Hoboes. Show up in costume, and you’ll get $2 off your train ticket.

Special treat alert! Swing by George’s Bakery (127 W North Bend Way, North Bend), and get a free cookie when you show your Halloween Train ticket.

All special activities are at the Snoqualmie Depot
3 days - Sat. Oct. 24, Sun. Oct. 25, & Sat. Oct. 31
Train schedule:
Click here to view the Fall train schedule
Train fare:
Click here to see train fares ($2 off if you wear a costume)
Holy Hoboes performance schedule:
All 3 days - 12:40-1:25 PM and 2:05-2:50 PM

Remember to come in costume! If you show up as a hobo, we promise we won’t throw you off the train.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Need spikes? Zap it!

Back in the 1970s, a forward-thinking company called RMC-Portec (track machine division now part of Harsco) came up with a machine design that holds a railroad tie in place under the rails and spikes it. Mind you an operator (or two or three) is required to manipulate a joy stick and some push buttons, it is nevertheless an effective and fast machine that takes most of the heavy labor out of the equation.

The Northwest Railway Museum has a former British Columbia Railway Portec Model B "Zapper" Automatic Spike Driver ASP-3. With the upcoming construction of the tracks inside the new Train Shed exhibit building, and the turnouts and siding connecting to it, Richard Wilkens has been leading an effort to get the Zapper back in working order and reports on some significant progress:

In September a rebuilt blower for the three-cylinder Detroit 3-53 diesel was installed along with a rebuilt starter. On Labor day weekend Brandon C. and Steve P. were successful in getting the engine running, despite it being out of service for 19 years. The engine on this machine is in very good condition with only a couple revolutions it fires right off. Other work leading up to its return to operation included draining the fuel tank to install shut off valves and a sight glass for the fuel level.

For those not familiar with this machine it is used to nip and insert spikes with a minimum of physical effort, something good for those of us not 18 any more. Using 3 people, two operators and one spike loader, the controls consist of a toggle switch to control movement, a foot pedal air brake pedal, and push buttons and joy sticks to place the spikes. After reaching the tie to be spiked a push button is pressed and clamps descend around the tie to nip it up snug to the base of the rail. Spikes are held in holders above the tie plates and a joy stick is used to line up the spike to the hole in the tie plate. After the spike is in the proper position a button is pushed and a hydraulic cylinder pushes down and sets the spike. After the cylinder retracts a new spike is placed in the holder for the next tie. Normally spikes are driven on both rails but the spike chutes on one side have been removed.

Being out of service for so many years we are in the laboriously slow process of checking electric circuits from the switches to relays and to solenoids that operate the air and hydraulic cylinders. So far part of the circuits are working but more testing is needed. Besides the previously mentioned work another major task has been repairing the roof. Several weeks ago the roof was pulled and placed on saw horses so we could remove peeling paint and deal with some rusted out areas. The largest rusted area is 3’ by 4’ and the failed metal was cut out and a patch was made.

First step was to remove paint and tar type undercoat on the bottom of the roof and this was done by Dan C., Dale C., Brandon C., Richard W., and Dick H. and a coat of primer was applied followed by a coat of yellow paint. On the weekend of the 10th and 11th the roof was flipped and the surfaced cleaned and primered. This past Thursday the 16th Richard W. applied the sheet metal patch and also some roof sealing tape to deal with smaller rusted areas. Saturday the 17th saw additional rust repairs and Sunday two coats of yellow paint was applied. This coming weekend plans are to reinstall the roof and to do final touchup painting, painting of lettering, and more work towards getting the machine to 100%.

So there you have it, thanks to this Shop Log update from Richard Wilkens. While a month or two of volunteer effort still remains, a few months of effort inside the Conservation and Restoration Center has restored basic operation to an RMC-Portec Model B Zapper. We'll update progress again soon.