Monday, December 24, 2012

Season's Greetings

Thank you to all our Volunteers, Donors, Trustees, Supporters, Members, Benefactors, and Patrons for a wonderful and successful 2012.

A railway museum is about more than just the excitement of a train: it is education, heritage and historic preservation, community identity, the economic sustainability of a small community, and  enjoyment.  Thank you to everyone who played a part in 2012.

2013 will bring many exciting developments to the Museum: completion of the chapel car, improvements to the interpretive railway, and expanded educational programs.  We all look forward to welcoming you back to the Museum next year!

--Staff of the Northwest Railway Museum: Richard, James, Cristy, Jennifer, Jen, and Jessie. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

A 12/12/12 marriage to remember

Messenge of Peace trucks and car body married again!
Chapel car 5 Messenger of Peace has wheels again!  Messenger of Peace was married with a pair of passenger car trucks in a lengthy ceremony held on the much-coveted 12 December 2012, or 12/12/12.  The car lost its original trucks in 1949 when it was adapted for reuse as a roadside diner.  The rehabilitation work it is undergoing inside the Museum’s Conservation and Restoration Center includes elements of restoration, including the trucks.

The car body underside showing the

Railway car trucks are assemblies that include a frame, wheels, bearings, brakes, and a mounting plate for the car body.  For the chapel car, these trucks each have six wheels and are constructed predominantly of wood.  A blog post describing the removal process is here.
Car body centerplate and the truck
centerplate slowly come together.

Marrying trucks to a car body requires very careful alignment.  For the chapel car, 22 months of time on car stands had resulted in the car shifting slightly off center.  So the rehabilitation crew carefully nudged the car body back to the center of the tracks in a process that consumed hours.  They used a set of hydraulic jacks to undertake this work on the 60,000 lb car body.  Certainly a great deal was at stake should the car be knocked off the car stands!
Bob, Kevin and Gary roll the rear truck
under the car body.
The massive 15,000 pound trucks were rolled under the car by just three workers.  Then the car was gently lowered onto the center plate.

So 12/12/12 marks a marriage to last: the trucks and the chapel car car body.  And this is both symbolic and indicative of the final stages of this two year project to rehabilitate this national treasure.  Stay tuned for more reports about this incredible project!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Something old, something new

6 wheel wood, steel reinforced
passenger truck
Something old, something new, something borrowed, something . . . carbon black!

Later this month inside the Conservation and Restoration Center, the chapel car 5 Messenger of Peace will be married to its new trucks, which are special frames with wheels, bearings, and brakes.  The trucks (we think, based on castings and other details) date from circa 1901 and will get some new parts, are in a sense borrowed, and will be carbon black.  So how appropriate to now look at the origins of those trucks and how they compare to the originals.
Messenger of Peace was built by Barney and Smith of Dayton, Ohio in 1898.  The car was one of the longest cars built to that date and incorporated all the latest design advances.  It included 6 wheel trucks reinforced with steel flatbars on either side of the oak frame members.  Sadly, those original trucks were (we believe) scrapped in 1948 when the car was repurposed as a roadside diner.
The Museum has several railroad cars it has been holding to provide parts for others.  While most were originally acquired for the Collection, they were later removed either because they were redundant or because they were in very poor condition. They provide couplers, brakes, hardware, and even wood moldings to make objects in the Collection more complete.
Imhoff Crane lifts the X-127 while the
Museum's Pettibone exchanged the

 A late nineteenth Century car called the X-127 was one such car.  It was outfitted with trucks of the same design that the chapel car was built with and they are in great shape.  They received some structural upgrades circa 1927, but are visually nearly identical to the originals.  Earlier this month, Snoqualmie’s own Imhoff Crane set up at the CRC and made quick work of the truck exchange.  They lifted the car one end at a time and replaced the original trucks with a set of shop trucks the Museum uses to move projects around.
So something old (the chapel car), something new (new center plates), something borrowed and something carbon black (black trucks from another car) will be in the marriage of chapel car 5 and its trucks.  Later, Spike will post some marriage photos along with the circa 1902 photo taken at Novinger, MO that has been used to rehabilitate the car.
Perhaps only to a curator's eye, this is a classic wood-era
passenger car truck

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Adaptive reuse

Front of steam crane
Steam crane is prepared
for shipment.
One of the great challenges facing history museums around the world is the size of their collections.  Many institutions have amassed collections that cannot be cared for with available resources.  Perhaps more troubling,even the most optimistic (but realistic) strategic plans do not project these institutions ever fully acquiring the resources needed to secure or conserve the collection, let alone conduct appropriate rehabilitation or restoration.  So what is a responsible institution to do?

The Northwest Railway Museum has offered objects that are outside its scope of collection or redundant to other museums.  Over the last 20 years, more than a dozen large objects have be sold or transferred to other institutions.  And when other museums are not interested, objects may be offered to a broader audience.
Steam crane loaded on truck
Imhoff's 65 ton conventional crane
makes quick work of lifting the
circa 1903 steam crane.
Recently a vintage steam crane was traded (more on that in a later post) to a business in Ballard, a neighborhood in the City of Seattle.  There, the crane will become the focal point in a new French bistro-themed restaurant.  Historically, the circa 1903 steam crane was used at a lumber mill in Everett, and had some other (unverifiable) contributions to history too.  Unfortunately, it was one crane too many for the Northwest Railway Museum.

Adaptive reuse is the process of retasking a building or object.  It allows something that may have outlived its usefulness and repurposes it for something else.  So an old school could become condominium housing.  An old caboose could become a cottage or office.  And a coal-fired steam crane could become the focal point of a new restaurant development where it supports an outdoor canopy.
Jon poses with steam crane.
Jon Burget poses with
his new acquisition.

Snoqualmie’s own Imhoff Crane was hired to lift the vintage crane – all 45,000 pounds of it – and Seattle’s Ballard Transfer was hired to transport it.  The move took most of a day and no doubt turned some heads on Interstate 90.
Congratulations to Jon Burget of Pavingstone Supply Inc on the acquisition of this interesting historical object for his new restaurant.  When he opens next summer, Spike will broadcast the date, time and place so you can see adaptive reuse in action! 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

New marketing director appointed

The Northwest Railway Museum is pleased to announce the appointment of a new team member.  Jennifer Osborn has joined the Northwest Railway Museum as the new Marketing Director. She is replacing Sue VanGerpen who after serving more than six years left the Museum earlier this month to accept a position at another Valley business.

Ms. Osborn arrives at the Museum via the Snoqualmie Valley Chamber of Commerce where she performed the functions of Business Manager. She brings with her a wealth of community knowledge and connections.

Jennifer’s new responsibilities at the Museum include managing Snoqualmie Railroad Days, leading of the overall marketing effort, and community outreach.  Principally, Jennifer will be working with the Museum’s other key staff to update and implement the strategic marketing plan.  The plan will feature improved awareness for the Museum’s favorite annual events: Santa Train, Day Out With Thomas, and Snoqualmie Railroad Days.  It will also focus on building attendance throughout the year, especially for educational programming.

Ms. Osborn has a strong background in education.  Prior to working at the Chamber, she completed her Masters degree in Education, which included an internship in guidance counseling at Aviation High School in Seattle. She has also worked for the Snoqualmie Valley School District at Snoqualmie Middle School.

Jennifer was raised in Vancouver, British Columbia and always wanted to return to the Pacific Northwest. Her family has lived in the Snoqualmie Valley for the last eight years after relocating here from Carlsbad, California. Both of her daughters attend Mt. Si High School and are very active in their school community.
Jennifer is very involved in the local community.  She is a member of the Snoqualmie Valley Historical Museum Board and is a member of the Snoqualmie Valley Schools Foundation Board. The history and future of the Snoqualmie Valley are very important to her and make her a great fit for the Northwest Railway Museum.

Welcome aboard Jennifer!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Crossing repairs

Center of crossing is re-
paired on North Bend Way.
It may be Halloween but things will no longer go bump in the night when using several newly-repaired crossings. 

The Northwest Railway Museum has 13 public crossings at grade or, more simply stated, 13 public roads that cross the tracks.  The Museum has certain statutory responsibilities to maintain portions of these crossings even though it is cars and trucks and not trains that wear them out.  Other portions of the crossing are generally the responsibility of the road authority.
Asphalt By George's crew compacts
new asphalt on Stone Quarry Road.

 Projects usually turn out better when groups and individuals work together, and road and railway projects often work the same way.   So the City of Snoqualmie and the Northwest Railway Museum hired Snoqualmie’s own Asphalt By George to perform repairs on Northern Street, Stone Quarry Road and North Bend Way and then split up the costs according to areas of responsibility.  These crossings were damaged by heavy use, snow plows, and just plain old age.  
George's crew poses at Northern Street
along with locomotive 4024.
Deteriorated wooden planks and broken asphalt were removed and replaced with new asphalt.  A spacer was used to ensure the slots to accommodate the car and locomotive wheels were inserted.  And old asphalt was shipped to the asphalt plant to be recycled into new asphalt.  Kudos to the great workers at Asphalt By George, and to the City of Snoqualmie Public Works Department for working with the Museum!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Checkin' It Twice

Santa Claus checks his list while riding Santa Train (R).


Imagine you and your family aboard a vintage train with the scenic Cascade foothills outside your antique coach window. As you journey from North Bend to Snoqualmie, you hear the wheels on the train clickety-clack beneath you. The train pulls into the station and you see Santa Claus, Ms. Claus and Zoe the Elf waving from the platform. As you alight from the train, the aroma of fresh-baked cookies greets you. You hurry into the railway kitchen car for hot cocoa and coffee to go with your cookies. Santa is waiting to see your family in the depot and he has a small gift for each of your children.

Is this a dream? No, it’s Santa Train®, the more than four decades old tradition at the Northwest Railway Museum. You and your family can be part of it. Purchase your Santa Train tickets online or in person now, or by phone beginning October 29.

Santa and the cookies will be waiting for you!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Bad to beautiful conclusion

Thanks to dozens of donors and local corporate sponsors, the Bad to Beautiful initiative has been successfully completed! 

Workers from Queen Anne
Upholstery unpack and
unload the reupholstered
The Museum participated in the Seattle Foundation’s Give BIG event last May.  Give BIG 2012 was the second annual day of giving hosted by the Seattle Foundation with participation from hundreds of local charities.  Individual donations were partially matched by a stretch pool funded by local companies including Seattle Sounders FC, Microsoft and JP Morgan Chase.  Donors made contributions through the Museum's page at the Seattle Foundation.
The Museum pledged support from the event for new seat upholstery on the interpretive railway.  Seats in car 1590 were selected - they were last reupholstered during the Roosevelt administration.  That 1913-built car’s seats actually came from an early 20th Century first class coach because the 1590’s original cafĂ© and parlor chairs were removed during WW II.
Completed seat cushions in car 1590.
Twenty two seats in the car 1590 have now been reupholstered with commercial fabric, a product several orders of magnitude more durable (and costly!) than fabric used on home furniture.  The dark green mohair-like material is very similar to the original fabric used on these seats nearly 100 years ago.  Work was performed by Seattle's Queen Anne Upholstery and the results are spectacular!  So come and check out the new seats – train departs weekends through the end of October and again for Santa Train. 
Thank you to everyone who supported Give BIG 2012, corporate donors who matched those donations, and to the Seattle Foundation for hosting it!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Day of Caring 2012

Landscaping at the Train Shed.
Every year in September, United Way of King County 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 21, 2012, the Northwest Railway Museum participated in Day of Caring by sponsoring two groups from Microsoft who worked on several projects. A third group will come in October from the Marriot Hotel, who were unable to come on the 21st but still wanted to participate.

The first project was for a group to go to Snoqualmie Falls to help with ivy mitigation and brush control.  Every year the English ivy that was planted at the site of the Snoqualmie Falls Hotel in the late 1800s grows robustly around the trees and vegetation, choking the life out of the native landscape. The Museum annually works to mitigate the ivy’s impact by cutting it back.  Day of Caring volunteers helped greatly with this project and also trimmed back some of the brush including non-native holly that has been starting to impede the visitor experience at the falls.
Rehabilitating benches for coach 218.

The second project was to beautify the Northwest Railway Museum Train Shed Exhibit Building by planting over 200 huckleberries, dogwoods, ferns, snowberries, cedar trees, sallal and Oregon grape. Volunteers were able to complete the landscaping around the Train Shed so that it is now returned to its native beauty.

Landscaping at the Train Shed.
Volunteers also worked at the Snoqualmie Depot: they washed windows, power washed the walkways, cleaned in the bookstore and swept. Before starting the Depot cleaning, the same volunteers spent the morning cleaning Coach 1590 for the arrival of the newly re-upholstered seats.  By the end of the day, Coach 1590 was shiny and had new cushions!

Staining a fence at the Train Shed.
Day of Caring volunteers worked on Collections Care rehabilitation projects too.  A group of five people worked throughout the day striping shellac in the Chapel Car in anticipation of additional installation of interior cladding in the next week.  They also helped disassemble benches that are being restored and installed in Coach 218 in the next year.

Stripping shellac in the chapel car.
All told there were over 50 volunteers from Microsoft, plus, to help coordinate the event, five volunteers from the Museum helped run the speeder (to move volunteers between work sites) and train set and another who helped supervise the projects.

The Northwest Railway Museum thanks all of the volunteers who helped out from Microsoft and from the Northwest Railway Museum. It was a very successful day! If you have a group that would like to come and volunteer for a day, please feel free to contact our Volunteer Coordinator Cristy Lake at any time - there is more information on the web site. Volunteering as a group for the day can be a fun way to serve the community and have an enjoyable time with friends.
Rehabilitating benches for coach 218.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Platform to preach

Chapel car 5 Messenger of Peace with
its distinctive open vestibules or plat-
A distinguishing feature of many 19thCentury railroad cars is an open platform or vestibule on one or both ends.  For chapel car 5 Messenger of Peace, this platform was the ingress and egress to the car.  So the preacher, his wife, and all the parishioners used the open end platform to enter and leave the car.  Clearly, restoration of this missing feature was vital for a successful project, and was fully supported by the major funders including Save Americas Treasures, the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Partners in Preservation (Seattle) and the  Washington State Heritage Capital Projects Fund administered by the Washington State Historical Society. And it was one of the most challenging aspects of the project because most of the work had to be performed in a specific sequence between March 2011 and April 2012 to avoid conflict with other work divisions such as carbody rehabilitation, floor repairs, and even the Terne roof installation. 
"Badly deteriorated"was the entry made
in the intial survey.  Little remained
in place from the original platform.
Vestibules in general are highly susceptible to deterioration.  Open platforms are even worse off.  Every rain storm, passing insect, or even passing thief has open access.  For instance, when the car was just a few years old, the pastor woke up one morning to learn that his milk can had been stolen from the end platform.  Apparently that Sunday’s sermon reminded parishioners that “thou shall not steal!”
The only surviving section of the
original platform end beam (top) is com-
pared with the new end beam (bottom).
The Messenger of Peace had very little to offer about the platform to researchers and rehabilitation specialists as they put their work plan together.  Fortunately, a portion of the original end beam had been recovered from the seaside where the car was used as a cabin; it confirmed the basic dimensions.  One end of the car had nearly complete platform and draft sills and those were used to make copies.
"B" end of car 5 at Novinger, MO. 
Image courtesty of Adair County
Historical Society.
Other resources played an important role too.  Researcher's visited other Barney and Smith-built cars from the era looking for clues, but most other cars had been retrofitted with more modern accessories from the early 20th Century. The Adair County Historical Society had a wonderful photo of the end platform taken in circa 1903 at Novinger, MO and this proved to be the most valuable guide. 
New platform and draft sills are at-
tached to the car with new fasteners.
Once basic dimensions were established, the rehabilitation team’s next challenge was to find large dimension white oak timbers, the species originally used for the chapel car platform and draft sills, and platform end beam.  Oak is an unusual wood for its density, resistance to decay, its hardness, and for the challenges in drying green wood.  A phenomenon called cell collapse often occurs when forcing large oak timbers to dry and severely reduces strength.  Air drying of green oak timbers is effective but takes years.  So what to do?  Recycled oak beams from an Amish barn in Ohio!
A platform end beam is milled on
the Northfield chain mortiser.
The timbers arrived in mid winter and the team found they had been stored outside.  The timber was cleaned off and any remaining fasteners were removed.  Holes or other minor defects were filled with epoxy or wood plugs were glued in.  Then the process of preparing the timbers began. 
A large slick was used to clean up the
initial cuts made by the mortise machine
There is always a need for good hand
tools when rehabilitating old wood cars!
Four large men were required to guide the 500 pound timbers through the Oliver planer.  During this process, several pockets of insect damage were discovered which had to be treated and repaired.  But in the end, some really great looking timbers were produced for the chapel car. 
Just a sample of the steel hardware that
is unseen inside and beneath the plat-

Was there more to it? Well, yes.  One of the unsung heros of the project was Ray M.  who repaired or made new the steel tension and tie rods that hold everything together.  Original steel was used wherever possible and was connected to new material with a turnbuckle.  Ray spent many hours custom machining hardware to fit in tight places where it would not be noticed.
There were also new castings required to make it all work.  Fortunately there was at least one copy of everything so the team was able to work with Mackenzie Castings in Arlington, WA to have copies made in ductile iron.  And they did fabulous work too!

The end railing is missing from the car and will have to be fabricated.  Fortunately, the great folks at Prairie Village in South Dakota have allowed the Messenger of Peace researchers to photograph and measure the railings on their chapel car Emmanuel.  These railings appear to be identical to the Messenger of Peace but surprisingly a number of other details including the platform end beam design and layout are not exactly the same even though the cars were built to the same plan.  The railings will be fabricated when additional project funding is secured.
The lead rehabilitation specialist Kevin P.
guides the mounting bolts for the plat-
form end beam into the matching holes.

Platform and draft sills are approximately 16 feet long.  The platform end beam is the width of the car and weighs over 200 pounds.  So a lot of special handling was required to maneuver the timbers around to the other woodworking machines.  And in the end - or at least as of May 2012 -  the Messenger of Peace has regained its platform to preach! 

The completed open vestibule needs one more
detail: an end railing. When more rehabilitation
funding is secured, a replacement railing will be

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Snoqualmie Railroad Days 2012

Snoqualmie Railroad Days 2012 was held August 17 - 19 in historic downtown Snoqualmie.  More than 11,000 visitors enjoyed live music, an art show, the grand parade, lots of trains, a car show, great food and more!  Success of the event came from a very supportive community, scores of dedicated volunteers, generous sponsors, and great weather.  Why not be part of next year's successful event?  Please drop us a note on our contact page to learn about ways you can be involved.

A Lego locomotive zooms around a
display created by Dan Parker.
More than 3,000 people lined Railroad
Ave. to watch the grand parade on
Saturday morning.

Jim and Lisa Schaffer
were the parade's grand
marshalls.  Jim retired as
Snoqualmie's police
chief in June. 

Motor car rides took passengers to the
Museum's new Train Shed exhibit
building for a tour.

The Seafair Pirates took
over locomotive 11 in
search of places to plunder.
A pristine '66 Corvette made an ap-
pearance at the car show.
Singers from the band Brian Vogan &
his Good Buddies perform their original
music on the Skagit flatcar stage at
the Snoqualmie Depot.

Reconditioned string
instruments were offered
for sale by a non-profit
at one of the vendor booths

Thousands toured the car show that was
set up along Railroad Ave. on Sunday.

What would Railroad Days be without
model trains?

Scarves of every color filled this booth!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

RailCamp Northwest debut

Twelve RailCampers pose
with locomotive 1 in the
Train Shed.
August 2012 was the debut of the first-ever Northwest RailCamp.  Designed for youth, the intensive rail-oriented program was a week of operations, history, collections care, and fun.
James uses a cutoff saw
under the careful super-
vision of the Dan C.

The Northwest RailwayMuseum (NRM), in partnership with the National Railway Historical Society (NRHS), hosted two days of RailCamp. Over the course of one week, campers enjoyed hands-on activities at several area rail hubs including the NRM, Mt. Rainier ScenicRailroad, and Tacoma Rail. The twelve campers ranged in age from 14 to 19 years old and were from all over the United States. Railcamp is an established NRHS program but this was the first ever Northwest camp. NRHS holds an annual camp at Steamtown in Scranton, PA and up until recently at the NevadaNorthern in Ely, NV.

Melisa uses a drill press to prepare her
own project - a wood bookshelf with
a section of rail mounted on the end.
During their two days at NRM, campers participated in a variety of hands-on activities including maintenance of way, running trades, rehabilitation, and a special project completed in the Museum’s shop. Campers got to throw switches, hook and unhook air hoses, help perform brake tests, couple and uncouple cars and run locomotive 4012.  They also switched out railroad ties, stripped old shellac in the chapel car Messenger of Peace as part of the rehabilitation of that National Register-listed object, and built a small shelf for CDs or books (their take-home project).

Jessica learns about tap-
ping threads to accept a

The success of any program is partly dependent on the participants.  They were a pleasant group of enthusiastic young people with a strong interest in railroads, historic and contemporary. The Museum’s educator said, “It was especially rewarding to design programming for a motivated group of young people that already have a strong background in railway history. They eagerly tackled the tasks we set before them and it was a pleasure creating lifelong memories with them.”
John learns to use a drill press under
the watchful eye of fellow camper

The Museum was also pleased with how the program directly ties to the mission – this is just the type of program that the Museum wants to offer.  NRHS was pleased with the outcome of the camp overall and it is everyone’s hope Northwest Railcamp will become an annual program.