Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Deputy director Jessie C., Visitor services 
James S., Volunteer coordinator Cristy L., 
Bookkeeper Jennifer Y. and Director 
Richard A.
Christmas and the railroad

In their roles as museum educators, staff work hard to remain truthful and accurate in creating interpretive programming. However, they must also use today's conventions to help people understand yesterday's.  Identifying the year-end holiday season as "Christmas" considers a recent Angus Reid Global poll that found 80% of people in the United States, Britain and Canada prefer to call the holiday season "Christmas." That is a pretty convincing majority!

So what do a refer car, box car, brakeman, coach car, express car, locomotive, conductor, railroad bridge, depot, and chapel car all have to do with "Christmas?"  Everything!

While examining the impact of railroads on the Northwest it is nearly impossible to ignore the role of significant cultural practices, including the celebration of Christmas. Why? Christmas and other major holidays have had - and continue to have - a tremendous impact on railway transportation including express, freight and passenger service.  Railroads brought (bring) families together, letters and packages to family members, and goods to retailers. Railroads even transport many Christmas trees from farms to your local communities.  So Christmas might not be very merry without the railroad!

Thank you to everyone! 

As another successful Santa Train program is completed and 2013 draws to a close, I am delighted to reflect upon another great year at the Northwest Railway Museum. In doing so, what is clearly evident are all of the generous contributions of time, talent and funding that have helped make the Northwest Railway Museum and its programs possible.  By the numbers, the human side of the Museum's success was a handful of management and other key staff, a dozen trustees and advisers, a gaggle of special contractors, more than 125 volunteers, and hundreds of donors. They all worked together to serve more than 90,000 guests who got to see and understand the role railroads played in the development and settlement of the Northwest.  

From all of us to all of you, have a Merry Christmas!


Thursday, December 5, 2013

New tools of the trade

The Museum's "new" Northfield model 4
Many skilled professionals will agree: having the right tool for the task is worth at least half the effort.  And so it applies to railroad cars and locomotives, but the tools are a little bigger than most people are accustomed to. 

Recently, with funding from a heritage 4Culture fixed asset grant, the Northwest Railway Museum added a power feeder and large table saw to the tool inventory. These acquisitions improve safety and efficiency for collections care efforts performed in the Conservation and Restoration Center

The Museum purchased a Northfield model 4 table saw complete with a 7.5 HP motor.  The 1990s-vintage saw tips the scales at nearly 2,000 pounds and will accommodate a blade diameter up to 20 inches.  It was located in Kentucky and shipped to the Museum in November.

Bob models the new 1 HP power feeder

The Northfield model 4 remains in production today in their factory in Minnesota.  Parts are available and so is technical support.  A new model 4 retails today for more than $16,000; the Museum paid less than 1/3 of the new cost for its lightly-used model 4.  This newer and larger saw is more stable and will allow workers to rip thicker and harder wood than the saw is replaces, which was built in 1926 and weighs "only" a few hundred pounds.

A new Grizzly-brand power feeder now graces the spindle shaper table too.  The Museum’s Oliver shaper features a 5 HP motor and hand feeding of stock is incredibly dangerous.  The new power feeder has been sized for this application and is used to slowly feed wood into the cutter head.  It was recently used to shape the rails and stiles for new coach 218 windows.  The shaper is also used to shape the moldings used both inside and outside the coaches.

4Culture offers the fixed asset equipment program to arts and heritage organizations located in King County, and funds the awards with lodging tax revenue.  Sound systems, stage lighting, instruments, shelving, and image scanners are other examples of purchases funded by the program in King County-based museums and arts organizations. This recent award is the Northwest Railway Museum's first fixed asset grant.

Thank you 4Culture!