Monday, February 27, 2012

Chapel car secrets Pt 1

Rehabilitation of a landmark property invites many opportunities to learn from the object.  The chapel car rehabilitation is no exception  - the structure has been largely untouched since it was built at Dayton, Ohio in 1898 and there is much to learn from it.

Work on the car's roof began in January 2012 and in late February an unusual discovery was made: a business card for H. J. Geisler at a Dayton, Ohio saloon was found in the car's roof sandwiched between the soffit, blocking, and roof decking.  The Sample Room advertised "fine wine, liquor, and cigars," and claimed "Kentucky whiskey a specialty."

The American Baptist Publication Society ordered Messenger of Peace from the Barney and Smith Car Company in early 1898. Eugene Barney was a lay Baptist minister and supported the church - his company built all seven Baptist cars. Baptists strongly advocated temperance and it is easy to believe the placement of the saloon's card in the roof was both intentional and in spite of the church's values, yet "why" cannot be proved with the evidence at hand. As wood railcar experts, however, Team Chapel Car has strong evidence to suggest that the placement of the card in the roof was intentional.

So when, who and how did the saloon calling card find its way into the roof of a Baptist chapel car?  Here is what Spike knows:
  1. This area of the car has been inaccessible since 1898.  The decking was covered with Terne roofing material that was nailed to the deck with all the seams soldered in situ.  There was only one set of nail holes in the roof decking and they match the nails protruding from the bottom of the Terne metal. 
  2. The card is about the same width as the soffit so it had to be carefully placed parallel with the outer edge as the roof deck was fastened in place.  It was located along the edge of the upper roof deck and was accessible to Barney and Smith's car builders.
  3. Messenger of Peace served in at least 11 States but car records assembled by Wilma Taylor in This Train is Bound for Glory do not show a return visit to Dayton after the car departed for its dedication in May 1898.
1898's Dayton, Ohio was a bustling industrial center.  Mary and Robert Steele wrote Early Dayton : with important facts and incidents from the founding of the city of Dayton, Ohio, to the hundredth anniversary, 1796-1896.  It mentions anachronistic milestones such as the the birth of the first white male baby, the many churches, numerous railroads and traction companies, and the successful railcar building enterprise of the Barney and Smith Car Company.  The statistical index lists 81 churches by denomination and admits to 399 saloons; the text does not describe any of the latter or their locations.

So what do you think is the story of the wine, liquor and cigar ad in the roof of the chapel car?  Write us a story about how the card got in the roof and send it to us; the Museum would be delighted to publish any interesting theories!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

New interpretive signs at the Depot

Thanks to a recent donation from the 4th Division/Pacific Northwest Region/National Model Railroad Association specifically marked for education, the Museum has designed and produced three new interpretive signs for large objects at the Snoqualmie Depot. The signs were fabricated by Fossil Industries, Inc. in New York. Fossil is considered a leader in outdoor sign fabrication. (From their website: “The World’s most durable signs and murals.”) For those familiar with the Centennial Trail signs, Chinook Signs Inc. designed the interpretive panels and Fossil fabricated them. (Chinook Signs Inc. also designed and fabricated the sign stands.)

The Museum’s Educator, Jessie Cunningham, is responsible for all exhibits and interpretation at the Museum. She worked closely with Fossil – in what turned out to be a lengthy process – to order the new signs. The first step was getting a quote to determine if signs were in the budget – they were. Cunningham and Executive Director Richard Anderson determined the three objects to create signs for. All three large objects will remain at the Snoqualmie Depot for the foreseeable future – which is why they were selected: Army Ambulance Kitchen car 89601, J.H. Baxter Co. locomotive 6-C, and Army Transportation Corps locomotive 7320 (also known as Cecil the Diesel). Each large object now has a new 17” x 17” sign.

Cunningham designed a template that was complimentary to the outdoor signs already at the Depot, as well as the Centennial Trail. Instead of being rectangular in shape, these new signs are square but feature similar design components. Sign content is a combination of both previously written and new material. Each sign also contains a minimum of one image. Volunteers Rich W. and Bob L. assisted with historical and technical accuracy. The revision process was long but necessary to insure the best product possible. Once Fossil received final approval it took six weeks to receive the sign order.

One aspect of sign design that was really important was determining how and where to affix the signs to the artifacts. Two of the three artifacts move around the site at the Depot, depending on the season and special event. So the Museum needed to be able to move the signs from side to side, depending on which track the car or locomotive was on. Another important part of this was determining how to affix the signs, since it was important to avoid permanently damaging the artifact (drilling holes, etc.). Cunningham submitted photographs and detailed measurements which Fossil used to design special hardware for each sign.

The Museum is thrilled to add these new signs to the Depot's exhibits. This additional interpretation will enhance the visitor experience. Don’t forget to check out the new signs next time you are at the Depot!


(Top) Cunningham poses with the new Kitchen car sign. The sign is affixed to the steps below the large sliding door located at the middle of the car.

(Middle) Sign for locomotive 7320. Double click the image to see a larger version!

(Bottom) Locomotive 6-C is a popular destination at the Museum, since children are invited to climb in the locomotive and “drive the train.” Now parents can learn all about the history of the locomotive while they keep a close eye on their children.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Clampers with a Messenger of Peace

Late last month The Ancient and Honorable Order of E Clampus Vitus (“ECV”) gave a day of service to the chapel car Messenger of Peace rehabilitation.  The Doc Maynard Chapter 54-40 brought 14 member volunteers to sand windows in preparation for shellac, move the kitchen stove in, prepare moldings for installation on the outside of the car, strip paint from the interior floor, prepare castings for paint, and remove some of the last interior panels for refinishing.  Chapter 54-40 contributed 54 person hours to the project and the group retired to the Snoqualmie Falls Brewery for a late lunch. 

ECV is a fraternal organization dedicated to the preservation and study of western heritage.  They are often known as simply "Clampers", and are also a group of folks who know that 54-40 could have been a real fight! 
Clampers have four objectives and the third is quite interesting: they cannot remember if they are a drinking historical society or an historical drinking society.  In other words, just like this blog post, they don't take themselves all that seriously.  Regardless, the Museum was honored to welcome them for their third visit to the Northwest Railway Museum and hope they will be back again soon.  Thank you Clampers!