Friday, November 27, 2015

Locomotive 924 Landmarked

Snoqualmie Landmarks Commission,
key Landmarks staff, and Museum
Executive Director Richard Anderson
pose for a post-vote photo in the
Snoqualmie council chambers.
The Northern Pacific Railway steam locomotive 924 has been successfully nominated to the City of Snoqualmie and King County Landmarks Register.  The Snoqualmie Landmarks Commission met in Snoqualmie on November 19, 2015 and voted to designate the 1899-built locomotive.  Officially, the commission considered the nomination that was submitted by the Northwest Railway Museum earlier this fall.  Commissioners toured locomotive 924 now undergoing rehabilitation in the Conservation and Restoration Center, and asked a variety of informed questions.  Commissioners later convened in Snoqualmie’s Council Chambers to vote on the staff recommendation to place the object on the Snoqualmie and King County Landmark Registers.

The staff report made a number of interesting observations about locomotive 924:
Catalog cut from the Rogers Locomotive
Company catalog of 1900.
  • The NPR Locomotive 924 is significant under (King County Landmarks) Criterion A1 for its association with the growth and development of King County.  Locomotives were the engine of the industrial revolution and western expansion, and the Northern Pacific Railway (NPR) was instrumental in setting broad patterns of settlement and development in King County and across the northern portion of the country from Minnesota to Washington.  NPR 924 served this railway for twenty-five years.

  • NPR 924 is significant under Criterion A3 as an excellent and rare example of a classic late 19th century steam locomotive. It features many of the common elements of both larger and smaller locomotives, and in many respects was “state of the art” for the era. There are very few locomotives originally owned by mainline railroads that survived beyond WW II.

  • NPR 924 is also significant under Criterion A5 as an outstanding and rare example of a switching locomotive constructed by Rogers Locomotive Company in Paterson, New Jersey, the second largest builder of steam locomotives in America.  Rogers was an innovative manufacturer who developed many features that became common – or even standard – on nearly all steam locomotives.  Rogers produced more than 6,000 locomotives.  Only 20 known examples remain world-wide; 11 of those are in the United States.
924 at Millwood, WA, after retirement
from the Northern Pacific.
The Landmarks Register listing for locomotive 924 is important for the Northwest Railway Museum and its mission.  A listing on the Landmarks Register conveys certain legal protections for the object regardless of who owns it.  It provides additional public recognition of its historical importance, and its role in the interpretation of King County’s railroad history.  City and County landmarks are eligible to apply to certain grant programs, and for technical assistance.

The Landmark Register is an important initiative of King County, which is one of the largest counties in the United States.  A King County Historic Preservation Officer – Jennifer Meisner - is appointed by the King County Executive.  Under her direction is a full time staff in the King County Historic Preservation Program that provides technical advice, project impact reviews for public agencies, and Interlocal landmark programs for suburban cities including Snoqualmie and North Bend.  Other objects on the Landmarks Register at the Northwest Railway Museum include Chapel Car 5 Messenger of Peace, Northern Pacific Railway rotary snowplow 10, and the Northern Pacific Railway/Seattle Lake Shore and Eastern Snoqualmie Depot.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Weathering another storm

Main track at the Snoqualmie Depot
during peak rainfall. 
November in Western Washington is synonymous with severe winter storms.  High winds, heavy precipitation, and power outages occur nearly every November and this year was no exception.  Fortunately, no significant damage occurred, but it was a nail-bitter because this was the first major storm event since completion of the PSE power plant reconstruction, and combined with the 2005-era Army Corps of Engineers section 205 river widening project.

Snoqualmie River at Snoqualmie
approaching peak flow.  Sandy Cove
Park is completely flooded.
The first indications of a threat usually arrive in the form of a flood warning.  A stage three flood is fairly common in Snoqualmie with several occurrences per year, while the more severe stage four floods occur every few years.  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ("NOAA") predicts peak water flow using computer models based on data from prior storms.  There is some margin for error, but the model updates as the storm progresses. 

South Fork of the Snoqualmie River
at peak flow.  Under normal flow,
there is approximately 20 feet of
headway under Bridge 35.
Flooding is one of the greatest threats to both the City of Snoqualmie and the Northwest Railway Museum.  Since 1948 there have been more than two dozen Presidential disaster declarations, and track and/or bridge damage has occurred in every event.  Tracking historical river peaks, there has generally been track damage at or above 43,000 cubic feet per minute as measured at Snoqualmie.  November 17, 2015's flood was projected at more than 48,000 cubic feet per second.  Actual peak flow was almost 49,000 cubic feet per second, yet there was no track or bridge damage.

The Museum is fortunate the flood reduction measures have worked in favor of preserving track and bridges, yet concerns remain about the ever-increasing frequency and severity of high rainfall events.  And, as with all high water events, all the affected bridges were inspected for damage and were found safe and suitable for service. Though no damage occurred, significant resources were utilized monitoring conditions and preparing for potential impacts.  Hopefully, snow levels will drop and the threat of further high rainfall events will diminish!                          (In the interest of full disclosure, the flood reduction measures have been controversial below Snoqualmie Falls and many think that flood impacts have now in creased in Fall City, Carnation, Duvall, and all points in between.)

Monday, November 9, 2015

Chapel car visit

Late last month the Northwest Railway Museum was pleased to welcome the Art Hodgins Family to the Train Shed exhibit building for a tour of Chapel Car 5 Messenger of Peace.  In 2007 the Hodgins Family graciously donated Messenger of Peace to the Museum where it has been extensively rehabilitated and is now on exhibit.  
The Chapel Car 5 was built in 1898 for the American Baptist Publication Society and served the Church for more than 50 years.  Later used as a roadside diner in Snohomish County, Art Hodgins Sr. saved the car from the path of a road widening project and preserved the car, first in his back yard, and later on his beachfront property near Grayland, Washington.  It was donated and moved to the Museum in 2007.
Rehabilitation is more than 95% complete and several additional features will soon be added to brighten the experience for everyone.  Stay tuned for details soon to be announced!