Friday, March 18, 2016

One Mallet too many

Locomotive 108 at the Snoqualmie
Responsibly managing a museum collection means that some artifacts are added to the collection and at other times they are removed.  In short, the Collection changes to meet the needs of the institution and its Mission.

At the Northwest Railway Museum two of the criteria used to evaluate the collection are support of the Mission and redundancy.  A decade ago, a number of large artifacts including an electric locomotive from Utah, a coach from the Midwest, and a steam locomotive from California were deaccessioned (removed) from the Collection.  However, the process of evaluating the collection continues every day.

For more than 40 years, the Museum has had custody or ownership of three Mallet-type 2-6-6-2 steam locomotives.  All three have a great deal in common: they operated in the Pacific Northwest; were built within a few years of each other, by the Baldwin Locomotive Works; are nearly identical in design and size; illustrate the same narrative (they tell the same story); and each require tremendous resources to properly care for.  With those facts, the Museum Board of Trustees and Staff reached a consensus to deaccession one 2-6-6-2 Mallet steam locomotive.  So which one?

The Museum's Trustees
required insulation to be
removed before the l08
could leave the property.
The 108 was chosen as the locomotive to deaccession.  The 108 was built in 1926 and served the Weyerhaeuser Timber Company until 1954.  It is a tank engine (think Thomas the Tank Engine!) and aside from a tender, locomotive 6 (one of the other Mallets in the Museum collection) is nearly identical.  (Locomotive 11 is also a 2-6-6-2 Mallet. It is a slightly different design, and is a tank engine converted to a tender engine.  It is owned by Washington State Parks under the curatorship of the Northwest Railway Museum.  It remains on exhibit at the Snoqualmie Depot.)

Locomotive 108 was prepared for shipping
at the Museum's Conservation and
Restoration Center.
As luck would have it, another heritage railway operates a locomotive nearly identical to locomotive 108.  The Black Hills Central Railroad in Hill City and Keystone, South Dakota operates their 2-6-6-2T steam locomotive 110 in daily service on a more than 4% grade.  Their long term plan called for acquisition of a second similar locomotive to allow for expansion, and better operational
coverage in the event of a mechanical problem or other issue.  So the stage was set for an appropriate and welcome change in ownership that would assure a bright future for this valuable museum artifact.  

Locomotive 108's boiler hoisted onto
a truck for the 20 hour journey to Hill
City, South Dakota.
Speaking with Black Hills Central President Meg Warder shortly after a deal was reached stated, "the Black Hills Central Railroad ... is honored to have the opportunity to [acquire] and restore the Weyerhaeuser Timber Co #108 Baldwin from the Northwest Railway Museum.  Our knowledgeable and dedicated crew will restore the engine back to its glory with the intention of having the engine in service by 2018.  The #108 engine will proudly work alongside the BHCRR’s restored #110 Mallet,  the current powerhouse of the Black Hills line."

The rear steam engine hoisted onto a
truck bound for the Black Hills Central.
Speaking while the loading process was underway, Northwest Railway Museum Executive Director Richard Anderson stated, "museum collections are dynamic and their size and scope must reflect the institution's available resources to care for it.  We are delighted to have found a successful heritage railway willing to take on the massive undertaking of rehabilitating, restoring and operating this impressive historical artifact."


Unknown said...

While it will be sad to lose this loco in Washington, it will be better utilized at the Black Hills Central. It must have been a tough decision, but it was the right one.

leesbunny said...

We hauled one third of this engine from Snoqualmie to Hill City, SD. It would be very nice to see more pics. I am also interested in possibly getting some of the other pictures taken that day. We are posting our info on our facebook page: Trucking Across America with the Schmitts.

Matthew Gustafson said...

Its nice to hear that this engine will be restored back to operation but it is sad for any museum to give up their piece of their collection up but at least its better than having it scraped. Plus what are the plans you guys have for the rest of the steam engines such as the Shay, The Heisler, and the UP consolidation? Plus keep up the good work on the NP #924 and CC #14. Ive always loved this museum and the progress it has made despite the fact I live all the way out in Chicago IL and have yet to visit here, the amount of work done by your volunteers really impress me. Keep up the good work.

Unknown said...

We were in Hill City SD in June 2017 and saw engine #108 in the yard partially restored and took a picture of it. I will try to find your email address and send it to you.

This comment box will not let me add a .jpg file.

Austin R Dreyer said...

She is alive again