Monday, August 13, 2018

Snoqualmie Railroad Days 2018

August 17-19, 2018 in historic downtown Snoqualmie, just 30 minutes from Seattle!

Snoqualmie Railroad Days is a community festival celebrating Trains, Timber, & Tradition.  It is hosted by the Northwest Railway Museum and supported by the community.  Founded in 1939, this year represents the 79th annual festival.

Railroad Days features a wide variety of entertainment and activities, and is well known for its visual and performing arts performances and exhibits.  Artists in Action, live music, living history, the Plein Air Paint Out, a community drum circle and the Art Stage are all included in this year's action-packed festival. There are some unique performances in the annual Grand Parade, too, and don't forget about the Legend's Car Show on Sunday!

And speaking of the Grand Parade, this year's Grand Marshall is City Clerk Jodi Warren, who has served the City of Snoqualmie for more than 22 years.  

Have you ever wanted to be in a parade? This year's Grand Parade also features a Kiddie Bike Parade.  Why not bring your whole family out with decorated bikes, wagons and animals?  You can meet in Riverview Park by 11 AM; preregistration is NOT required. 

Of course there are trains, too!  Excursions on the Snoqualmie Valley Railroad will depart Snoqualmie on Saturday and Sunday at 11 AM, 1 PM, and 3 PM, and will include a stop at the Train Shed exhibit building.  Gas motor car rides on the Kalamazoo will be available from Snoqualmie, too!

Snoqualmie Railroad Days has much more to offer!  Check out the Schedule of Events to find something of interest for you and your family.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

New arrival

The Northwest Railway Museum is delighted to announce the arrival of a new and more comprehensive online ticketing systemThis month, advance ticketing was launched for the Santa Train, Grand Tour, and the Snoqualmie Valley Wine Train events.  The new system is built on the Museum's TAM Retail Point of Sale System and - when fully implemented - will allow advance ticketing for all regular trains too. 

The new system has been designed to provide flexibility so it can be expanded as the Museum continues to grow, but also to improve security.  For instance, the new ticket system requires users to create a user account.  This process is intended to reduce attempts to illegally or inappropriately use the ticket system.  However, the user account will speed any user's subsequent ticket purchase because it will eliminate the need to re-enter contact information.

Ticket are now on sale for the September 1 Grand Tour, Snoqualmie Valley Wine Trains in September and October, and the annual Santa Train.  Visit to select and purchase your tickets today.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

A trolley for Yakima

Heritage railroads are chronically underfunded, which makes it even more important that similar organizations work together to achieve common goals.  One opportunity recently presented itself to the Northwest Railway Museum, and it allowed an important vintage trolley to move to Yakima.  

A private collector in Snoqualmie decided it was time to donate his trolley car to a museum.  The artifact is Brill Master Unit #20, a car that was purportedly the last trolley to operate on the Yakima Valley Transportation (YVT), a system that shut down streetcar service in 1947.  YVT is a national treasure now owned by the City of Yakima and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  This intact interurban line is maintained and operated by Yakima Valley Trolleys, a non profit similar to the Northwest Railway Museum.

The Northwest Railway Museum viewed the project as one best taken on by a group that specializes in that interurban line's history and the donor agreed. So the Museum reached out to Mr. Ken Johnsen of the Yakima Valley Trolleys and made him aware of the opportunity, one they had actually been hoping for. 

The Northwest Railway Museum was in a better position to help Yakima Valley Trolleys prepare and load the Master Unit on a truck for the three hour trek to Yakima.  So on a warm July morning Kyle, Bob and Richard joined with volunteers from Monroe Correctional to help Ken and the Yakima Valley Trolleys prepare and load the Master Unit onto a truck.

Performing excellent transportation with an extendable trailer was Mike Hawkins Trucking of Sedro Woolley, the same firm that moved the Porter #7 from Bellingham last September.  Mike and his driver handily maneuvered the loaded trailer out of a very tight space and safely delivered the artifact to Yakima Valley Trolleys.

Special thanks to Herb Cole for helping make the opportunity a reality, and to Raoul Martin for donating the Master Unit to Yakima Valley Trolleys.  Toot toot!

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Day Out With Thomas 2018

2018 is Day Out With Thomas' "Sweet 16" at the Northwest Railway Museum!  It all began in 2002 with the first event in Snoqualmie, and this year's "Big Adventures, Bigger Memories" tour continues the tradition; tickets are on sale now for July 13 - 15 and 20 - 22.

Day Out With Thomas is an experience with Thomas the Tank Engine, the fabled storybook character first introduced to children in 1945.  Thomas is "the really useful engine" who has adventures on the Island of Sodor.  Once a year, Thomas the Tank Engine travels off the island to visit children at heritage railways. The Snoqualmie Valley is one of the regular stops.

Day Out With Thomas in Snoqualmie is a fun-filled experience for children of all ages, but is designed for children 3 - 5 years of age.  Motor car rides, a bouncy house, live music, train tables, story time, a puppet show, and a model train are some of the activities included with admission.  For an extra charge, professional photos are available, and food vendors are located on site and across the street. A gift shop has unique Thomas-themed merchandise too.

New in 2018 is a special sensory-friendly train on Sunday, July 22 at 9 AM.  This limited event time is for families with children who have special needs.  Please contact the Snoqualmie Depot Bookstore at (425) 888-3030 Extension 7202 daily from 10 AM - 5 PM to make a reservation and purchase a ticket. Or call after hours and leave a message!

Live music in 2018 will feature noted artists Eric Ode, Nancy Stewart, and the talented Brian Vogan and his Good Buddies.  These local artists have produced unique children's music, and are excellent live performers too.  Do you know your Animal ABC's?  How about that Barn Cat? Come and check out the live music too!

Day Out With Thomas is running July 13 - 15 and July 20 - 22.  Tickets are available through an online ticketing system, or from the Depot Bookstore in Snoqualmie.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Crossing art?

Crossing repairs are far from a work of art, or are they?  Recent crossing repairs on King Street in Snoqualmie and North Bend Way in King County appeared to have more in common with crazy quilting than a roadway.  Yet art is in the eyes of the beholder, so you decide.

Notwithstanding, broken asphalt occurs in a somewhat haphazard and random fashion, which is exacerbated by local wintertime snow removal.  And every five or so years the cumulative effect causes enough damage to make some crossings  rough for cars and light trucks.  So the Museum hired Asphalt by George to remove the failed sections and replace with new hot mix.

First, the roadway was closed off.  The defective sections were cut out with a concrete saw.  Then a worker pried out the old material. A truck brought in a load of hot mix, and a compactor tamped it into the patchwork. Finally, some cracks and the seams where sealed with hot tar.  (Thanks to the City of Snoqualmie Public Works Department for closing King Street to allow this work to occur safely!)

North Bend Way is a wider and faster crossing than King Street.  Prevailing speeds can reach 70 MPH over this 160-foot long crossing, and it is a critical corridor so it is difficult to close the road.  The patchwork effort there required a little more choreography to assure worker safety, but the theory was the same.

Completion of this crossing work represents two more summer projects the Museum can check off the list, and another task completed in time for Day Out With Thomas 2018

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Crossing Northern

The Northwest Railway Museum's railroad has many safety obligations, and chief among them are 13 public crossings.  Northern Street is in downtown Snoqualmie and serves a residential neighborhood, and while it receives only light traffic, many decades of use and several major flood events that submerged the track have taken their toll.  In June 2018 a project with the City of Snoqualmie began improving the crossing.

Volunteers and staff from the Museum along with a crew from Monroe Correctional removed the timber crossing planks, removed mud that had collected in the tie cribs, and set about improving the structure.

The tie cribs were refilled with clean ballast, and down ties were tamped up.  New crossing planks from Wheeler Lumber in South Dakota were then installed between the rails.  The new planks were cut from coastal Douglas fir and treated with copper naphthenate.   They were fastened in place with timber screws and by the end of the day the crossing was open to traffic.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Thomas the Tank Engine arrives!

That very useful engine rolled into North Bend this week in advance of Day Out With Thomas 2018.  Thomas the Tank Engine traveled all the way from an event in Canada.  He moved on the State and Provincial highway systems using a special truck trailer.  In North Bend, a locomotive and an "idler" car coupled onto Thomas and pulled him back onto the railway track.

When he awoke from his nap, neighborhood children rushed to the North Bend Depot to welcome him to the Snoqualmie Valley.  Children of all ages took a moment to pose for a photo with him, too.

When all the diplomatic pleasantries concluded - and after railway workers conducted a thorough safety inspection to make sure he had arrived safely - Thomas the Tank Engine got up his courage to cross the Big, Big Bridge (aka Bridge 35), and continue his journey to Snoqualmie.

Thomas the Tank Engine will be appearing in Snoqualmie at Day Out With Thomas July 13 - 15 and 20 - 22.  Tickets and more information are available on the Museum's special Thomas page at  Thomas the Tank Engine is looking forward to seeing you there!

Monday, June 4, 2018

Chapel car pews

Chapel car 5 Messenger of Peace is a signature exhibit in the Museum's Train Shed exhibit hall. Constructed in 1898 by the Barney and Smith Car Company, the Messenger of Peace is a wooden railway car that functioned as a mobile church for the American Baptist Publication Society, and later for the American Baptist Home Missions Society too.  Major rehabilitation work on this National Register-listed object was completed in 2013, but the sanctuary has been lacking pews, at least until now.

Unfortunately the Museum has not had the capacity to produce replica pews while the Conservation and Restoration Center has been hosting rehabilitation of NP locomotive 924 and SP&S coach 213.  So beginning last winter, journeymen cabinetmakers at OB Williams in Seattle - and their very well-equipped shop - were contracted to produce pew components, which would later be finished and assembled at the Museum.  Construction is based on designs copied from an original two-seat pew held in the collection of the American Baptist Historical Society at Mercer University in Atlanta.  The pews were originally installed in a 3 & 2 configuration, and the replica components will allow five full rows.

Much work remains: the pew components need to be finished with at least seven coats of shellac, and then they need to be assembled.  And to keep costs down, the project (assembly and finishing) is being completed between tasks on NP locomotive 924 and SP&S coach 213.  However, work is expected to wrap up early this summer.

The Northwest Railway Museum is grateful for the support that is making this project possible, including contributions from the Nysether Family Foundation, American Baptist Home Missions Society, American Baptist Historical Society, and dozens of generous individuals.  Thank you also to Ms. Terry Wick at OB Williams for agreeing to take on this surprisingly complicated fabrication, especially with the attention to detail that is making each replica almost distinguishable from the original.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Wine on the Rails

This spring the Northwest Railway Museum uncorked a new option on its train excursion schedule! On April 14 and May 19, the first two Snoqualmie Valley Wine Trains were hosted by the Museum with support from Savor Snoqualmie Valley. Both wine trains sold out in less than 10 days, much to the delight of the organizers.  During these 21+ only events, guests enjoyed the scenic train ride combined with stops to sample local wine and food.

Participants began their journey by checking in at the historic Snoqualmie Depot to pick up their tasting tokens and commemorative wine glass. Two wineries were immediately available for tasting opportunities in the depot’s freight room.

Guests then boarded the train for the ride to the upper Snoqualmie Valley, including the view of Mount Si from historic Bridge 35, above the Snoqualmie River. Following that scenic pause, guests stopped for 40 minutes at the Museum’s Train Shed Exhibit building for wine tasting with all of the participating wineries as well as food samples from local valley food providers. Guests had time to leisurely taste more wines, grab food ‘niblets’, listen to live music provided by the talented members of Tinkham Road and wander amongst the exhibited trains.

Following the stop at the Train Shed, passengers re-boarded the train for the breathtaking view from the top of Snoqualmie Falls and the river valley below. A final stop was made at the Puget Sound Energy Hydro Museum, where guests were welcomed for a final wine tasting and the chance to enjoy a variety of Boehm’s Chocolates.

The special Wine Train excursion ended with the trip back to the Snoqualmie Depot where passengers could purchase bottles of their favorite wines. Historic downtown Snoqualmie merchants welcomed Wine Train riders with special dinner and shopping opportunities too.

Many thanks to all of the participating wineries: Mount Si Winery, Sigillo Cellars, Wm Grassie Wine Estates, Convergence Zone Cellars, and Pearl and Stone Wine Company. Also, thank you to the food providers: Cherry Valley Dairy, Heirloom Cookshop, Carnation Farms, and Boehm’s Chocolates. And a special thank you to Jennifer McKeown and Savor Snoqualmie Valley for their help in putting these excursions together. Watch for news of upcoming Wine Train excursions in September and October!  

Spike was delighted to share his photos with this article guest authored by Peggy Barchi.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

New exhibit panels installed in Train Shed

Sign on the Northern Pacific bunk car.
New exhibit panels have been installed on or near eight objects in the Train Shed Exhibit Building. The panels were developed and purchased with a 2017 4Culture Heritage Special Projects grant and are now on display for the visiting public. Fossil Industries fabricated the panels. The Museum has used Fossil, based in New England, for several projects – the company is a leader in High Pressure Laminate (HPL) signage. HPL is a popular exhibit material because it is fade resistant and anti-graffiti.

Eight artifacts now sport a new panel that will help interpret the type of railroad car (general history) as well as the individual history of the car. The panels also include information on northern transcontinental lines including the Northern Pacific (NP), the Great Northern (GN), and Canadian Pacific (CP). Included are the GN X-101 and NP 1203 cabooses, the chapel car Messenger of Peace, the NP bunk car, the NP refrigerator car, a NP box car, a Polson Logging side dump car, and the CP 25 (formerly known as "Earnscliffe"). Four signs are 32” x 32” and are displayed on a sign stand next to their object. The other four panels are 24” x 24” and are affixed directly to the object in some way.

With these eight new signs added to the four signs already in the building, it means most of the large objects on display have their own interpretive sign. This is a major milestone for the education/exhibit department!

A 4Culture Heritage Special Projects Grant funded this exhibit. 4Culture is the cultural funding agency for King County, Washington. Using Lodging Tax and 1% for Art funds, 4Culture has four program areas to serve the county: arts, heritage, historic preservation, and public art. For more info on 4Culture, visit their website at

A big thank you to 4Culture for continuing to support exhibits at the Northwest Railway Museum.

Sign on one of the NP box cars in the Train Shed.

Large sign for the dump car - sign is affixed to
sign stands donated by Washington
State Historical Society.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Parlor car arrives

It has been a busy week at the Northwest Railway Museum.  Generous contributions from individualsGive Big, local business, Nickel Bros. and the Schwab Fund for Charitable Giving supported the move of Northern Pacific Railway parlor car 1799.  Its placement on wheels on the Museum's railroad was the result of many months of planning.  Located on Whidbey Island for more than 77 years, car 1799 crossed Puget Sound on a barge, traversed three Interstates to Snoqualmie in a night-time move, passed through downtown Snoqualmie along Railroad Avenue, and - finally - this week was lowered onto a set of trucks (a frame to support wheels and a suspension).

The move was completed by Nickel Bros., a firm best known in Washington and British Columbia for moving historic homes and structures.  They are well-acquainted with moving structures in a marine environment, and devised a system to move the 1799.

Parlor car 1799 was built by Pullman in 1901 for the Northern Pacific Railway.  It served that railway for almost 40 years - including service from Seattle's King Street Station - until it was retired and subsequently purchased by a railroad executive and moved to Whidbey Island for use as a seaside cottage.

Owned by the Shaw Family since the early 1970s, the car has remained in great shape but it was not well-suited for the use of a multi-generational family.  Fortunately, thanks to an introduction arranged by Thomas the Tank Engine, the Shaw family contacted the Museum and offered to donate the car if it could be removed from the seaside parcel it occupied since 1941.

Moving a more than 100-year-old wood railroad car usually involves dealing with substantial deterioration, but not in this case.  Car 1799 was and is in excellent shape.  Notwithstanding, two doorways were cut in the sides, and the truss rods - an important part of the structure - were removed in 1941.  So an elaborate steel frame was constructed to support the car, and allow it to be moved off the beach without damage.

There was considerable effort required to complete the move of car 1799.  One of the important requirements was "flooding" the Museum's track with railroad ballast so the Nickel's truck could roll onto the rails.  Mr. Tom Weber of the Mt. Si Quarry donated 40 tons of 2 inch ballast, which was easily spread and performed admirably.  Mr. Weber also owns Weber Construction, and arranged to lift two passenger car trucks out of storage and back onto the tracks.  The lightweight trucks are quite an anomaly - they were not built until after 1799 was retired - but will support the car until historically-correct trucks arrive.

The house-moving frame did create a few challenges - the assembly was 16 feet wide and occupied two highway lanes.  Yet this was the most practical option, and as of this week, the car is back on the rails, and preserved at the Northwest Railway Museum.

The next step is moving a set of historically appropriate trucks to the Museum and installing them.  Contributions in support of this next phase are welcome. Thank you to the dozens of individuals and businesses that have already made contributions to this project!