Friday, September 23, 2011

Day of Caring at NRM

Every year in September, United Way organizes Day of Caring where thousands of volunteers all take the day off from work and volunteer in their community. United Way asks non-profit organizations to sponsor projects and then group leaders - mostly from companies - sign up for projects and organize volunteers to work on those projects. This year, on September 16, 2011, the Northwest Railway Museum participated in Day of Caring by sponsoring two projects.

The first project was for a group of 16-20 volunteers to come bake cookies for Santa Train in the Museum's historic US Army Ambulance Kitchen car. An amazing group from Marriot Hotels signed up. They were able to bake a ton of cookies and prepare the batter for the upcoming cookie bake on October 22nd. Normally, baking cookies at the Museum is quite an endeavor because bakers use an historic coal-fired oven to bake in and there are very few volunteers who know how to use coal ovens these days. But in this group there was a chef who grew up in Burma who learned to cook on a coal-fired oven. He immediately took charge and everyone was quite impressed.

Our second project was to beautify the Northwest Railway Museum for the Train Shed Grand Opening. 55 volunteers from Microsoft signed up to help clean the Museum. They worked on a mammoth list of tasks to help make the Museum look nicer. At the New Train Shed, to name just a few jobs, they washed windows, swept floors, raked gravel, weeded flower beds, and planted native plant landscaping. They also cleaned the Train Set: they power washed the exterior, vacuumed the coaches, cleaned out the closets and old restrooms, washed windows, reinstalled windows, and tightened up loose benches.

Volunteers worked at the Snoqualmie Depot as well: they painted picnic benches, washed windows, power washed the walkways, and swept. And if all of that was not enough, in the afternoon about half the group went up to the rail yard and worked on cleaning it up, cutting back the weeds and getting some of the equipment ready to be moved to the Train Shed. All told there were 75 volunteers from Marriot and Microsoft sign up plus, to help coordinate the event, four volunteers from the Museum helped run the speeder (railway scooter to move volunteers between work sites) and another three helped supervise the projects.

The Northwest Railway Museum thanks all of the volunteers who helped out from the Marriot, Microsoft and from the Northwest Railway Museum. It was a very successful day! If you have a group that would ever like to come and volunteer for a day, please feel free to contact our Volunteer Coordinator Cristy Lake at any time. Volunteering as a group for the day can be a fun way to serve the community and have an enjoyable time with friends.

Images(From top to bottom)

Volunteers from Marriot Hotels baked cookies and made lunch for everyone.

Microsoft volunteers raking gravel at the Train Shed.

A gentleman from Microsoft spent 6 hours power-washing the brick walkways at the depot – they haven’t looked this good in a long time!

Microsoft volunteers rode to and from the Train Shed by speeder. A big thanks to Jim H., Pete K., Ken L. and Chuck S. for operating the speeder and the train during the day!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Train Shed grand opening

September 17, 2011 was a momentous occasion for the 54-year-old Northwest Railway Museum. That occasion was the grand opening of the Train Shed exhibit and collection storage building, a project 54 years in the making. 137 invited guests joined together to hear live music, inspirational speeches, and to see the rehabilitated White River Lumber Company locomotive 1 and caboose 001 roll into the building. Hundreds of donors and over $4.3 million were required to achieve completion.

Last year the Museum celebrated the completion of the structure with a dedication ceremony. That empty building was an achievement in its own right but this year’s completion of all the railway track now allows the structure to be fully utilized for its primary purpose: protecting the most representative and vulnerable objects from the outdoor environment. It will also be available for limited public access.

Guests of all ages were transported to and from the Train Shed ceremony by train and while enroute Snoqualmie Postmaster Bud canceled a commemorative postcard. The Cornucopia Concert Band performed a variety of brass band standards throughout the evening and light refreshments were served from track two platform.

Mayor Matt Larson spoke of the importance of vision in achieving an important goal and praised the Museum for its many recent successes. 4Culture Executive Director Jim Kelly spoke of the tenacity and creativity evident in finding a way to build the Train Shed. (4Culture is the King County Cultural Development Authority and was a major supporter of the Train Shed design and construction.) Museum Board of Trustees Vice President Dennis Snook talked about achievement, planning and continued development. Museum Executive Director Richard Anderson spoke of eleven years of effort to plan, fund and construct the Train Shed, and of the interesting parallels between Snoqualmie’s beginnings as a railroad town and its revitalization efforts today led in part by a railroad museum. Other dignitaries attended to celebrate the event including King County Councilmember Kathy Lambert and City of Snoqualmie Councilmember Bob Jeans.

Opening the Train Shed for collections use and limited public access is the latest and greatest of the Museum’s achievements but it is hardly the last. Now work will continue on completing facilities for the museum campus including restrooms, additional parking, and program office space. Efforts will also increasingly focus on renewed and expanded collection care on the museum’s large collection of coaches, freight cars and locomotives.


(top left) Caboose 001 and locomotive 1 are pushed in on track three
(top right) Snoqualmie Postmaster Bud cancels a commemorative postcard
(middle left) Cornucopia Band performs live during the ceremony
(lower left) locomotive 1 and caboose 001 wait outside for their call
(lower right) native plants adorn the perimeter gardens at the Train Shed