Friday, May 28, 2010

Guess Who's Back in Town

No, not Blue’s Clues or the Smurfs, but you’re getting warmer. He is big and blue.
That’s right. Thomas the Tank Engine, the No. 1, the cheeky little fellow with a heart of gold and a propensity for trouble is making his way to Snoqualmie. Thomas and Sir Topham Hatt will be welcoming 16,000 children and their adults to the Northwest Railway Museum this summer during Day Out With Thomas, The Celebration Tour. This isn’t just any old visit; this is a celebration of Thomas’ 65th birthday!

July 9 – 11 and 16 – 18 mark Thomas’ ninth visit to the Museum. Much like a small town preparing for the arrival of the circus, the Snoqualmie Depot is all abuzz with activity. Tents will soon sprout on the grounds of the Snoqualmie Depot. Those summertime scents of hot dogs and caramel corn will be in the air. Pizza, lattes and root beer will round out the offerings on the grounds. Music will be playing, balloons will loosen their strings and fly up into the sky and Thomas will puff back and forth between the Snoqualmie Depot and Snoqualmie Falls, carrying his cargo of happy children and satisfied parents.

New this year, we welcome the Sunset Valley Railroad, a live steam, G-scale garden railway modeling group to our event. And, live on our stage for the first time, Casper Babypants and Brian Vogel will be performing for your delight. They join long-time favorites, Nancy Stewart and Eric Ode. Don’t miss the HO-scale model train layout, the motor car rides, the steam engine cab tour or Clay Martin’s puppet theatre.

If it sounds like we are looking forward to it, you’re right, we are! You won’t want to miss it! Tickets are more than half sold out, so don’t delay. Visit the Snoqualmie Depot Bookstore and get your tickets today or purchase through TicketWeb.

Sunday, May 9, 2010


The Northwest Railway Museum has a train load of experience managing natural disaster recovery operations. The Museum has successfully recovered from major floods, moderate earthquakes, hurricane-force wind storms, and even landslides.

The Museum applied its experience again this week with a minor landslide at Snoqualmie Falls. Late on Monday, 3 May 2010, about 150 cubic yards of mud and rock and a dozen trees came down the hillside near bridge 31.3. The largest of the trees landed on a gondola car the Museum uses as an end of track bumper. This presented a few minor challenges for School Train scheduled for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and a concern for the success of Mother’s Day weekend trains.

The track on both sides of bridge 31.3 sits on a ledge cut into the hillside by 19th Century railroad builders 300 feet above the Snoqualmie River. Slides are inevitable and safely collecting and disposing of debris can be difficult. For this type of challenge where safety and critical timelines are factors, the Museum sometimes turns to contractors.

Railworks is based in Chehalis and is the largest rail contractor in the region. They were involved with the Museum’s 2009 flood recovery and have several hyrail excavators (hyrails are devices that allow non-rail vehicles to travel on railroad tracks). Railworks sent a hyrail excavator and hyrail dump truck and they arrived on site on Thursday. The machines immediately went to work clearing debris.

Also participating was Clayton Littlejohn from North Fork Enterprises. Littlejohn is an expert logger from a family of loggers and the most experienced person in our community for untangling a timber mess. He made quick order of the trees, some more than three feet in diameter. Loggers are an increasingly rare breed in the Northwest as business focus continues to shift away from forestry. The Museum has a close tie to logging - railroads not only made logging viable, but profitable. The railroad allowed Snoqualmie to develop as a successful Weyerhaeuser community and when the mill closed, the railroad left.

In the tight confines of the ledge that the railroad sits on, much of the slide debris had to be removed from the site. Thom Weber of Mt. Si Quarry agreed to accept mud and disposed of 30 tons of material. Clayton Littlejohn of North Fork Enterprises accepted all the woody debris and ground it up for use as hog fuel.

This section of rail line was originally constructed in 1889 and after this minor repair is again ready for service. It will continue to captivate visitors with panoramic views of the valley below and help educate about the challenges 19th Century railroad builders faced when they reached the mountains.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Depot restrooms dedicated

It’s official: the brand new Snoqualmie Depot public restrooms have been dedicated. A successful potty party held on May 1st culminated in dignitaries cutting a ribbon of toilet paper to officially open the restrooms. Participating were (left to right) Snoqualmie Mayor Matt Larson, Museum President Susan Hankins, King County Council Member Kathy Lambert, Snoqualmie Councilmember Bob Jeans, and Museum Executive Director Richard Anderson.

Those in attendance each received a small package of, well, toiletries. Then everyone enjoyed cheesecake (you can make your own jokes ‘bout that!) and checked out the new facilities. Snoqualmie's Mayor and the Museum's Executive Director also took an opportunity to promote the chapel car 5 Messenger of Peace project and its involvement in the Partners In Preservation funding competition.

Notables attending the event included Mr. Bill Collins who in 1979 designed and supervised the construction of the original Snoqualmie Depot restrooms. Bill noted that funding the 1979 restroom construction was difficult, but he obviously did a great job because his design lasted 31 years, an astounding feat for any public restroom.

The new restrooms are located in the Museum's 1890-built Snoqualmie Depot and were funded by a City of Snoqualmie Lodging Tax grant. The reconstruction included new double sided exterior stairs at the east end of the depot, and other improvements to provide ADA access to the new restrooms. Additional information appeared in an article entitled Now serving appeared in April when the restrooms first opened.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Project open houses at two King Street stations

With just 10 voting days left in the Partners In Preservation Seattle Initiative funding competition, the region’s two King Street Stations held a joint open house to highlight their projects. Seattle’s King Street Station (owned by the City of Seattle and managed by the Seattle Department of Transportation or "SDOT") highlighted the staircase that extends from the King Street entrance to Jackson Street. Snoqualmie’s King Street Station (owned by the Northwest Railway Museum) highlighted chapel car 5 Messenger of Peace. Through the kindness of SDOT, chapel car 5 Messenger of Peace was also highlighted at Seattle's King Street Station. You can vote every day at

Partners In Preservation is a program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. American Express has provided $1 million in funding to support historic preservation projects in the Puget Sound region. 25 project finalists are competing for a share of the funding; the top vote-getter is guaranteed full funding. Several other projects will be selected by a National Trust committee and will also receive funding.

On Sunday, May 2, 2010, the Northwest Railway Museum was invited to set up a modest display about the chapel car at Seattle’s King Street Station. There, the City of Seattle’s Department of Transportation was also highlighting their King Street station project. At the same time, Snoqualmie’s King Street Station continued an open house for chapel car 5 Messenger of Peace.

Project Manager Trevina Wang described the King Street Station project to Spike:

For the Northwest Railway Museum, funding for the chapel car 5 Messenger of Peace will provide full funding and allow the project to proceed through to completion. Messenger of Peace has already confirmed $356,000 in funding, $180,000 of which came from a Save America’s Treasures award last December.

You can vote once a day until May 12 for the chapel car 5 Messenger of Peace or any of the other 24 worthy projects at Naturally, Spike encourages you to vote for Messenger of Peace!