Friday, April 27, 2018

Parlor car 1799 move grows near!


The Parlor Car is ready to move to the Museum!  A Parlor car was an extra-fare car and provided service that would be equivalent to today's business or first class.  In the Golden Age of Rail Travel, the Parlor Car epitomized nearly everything that rail travel could be.


Parlor car 1799 was built by Pullman in 1901 for service on the Northern Pacific Railway.  It is one of the few surviving early 20th Century railway passenger cars known to have served in Washington State.  It is a full-length car built entirely of wood, but it was never upgraded with steel components as so many other wooden cars were.  Instead, it was purchased by an Auburn railroad worker in 1941 and moved to Whidbey Island on Puget Sound for use as a cottage, a use that continued for the next 77 years.


Parlor car 1799 has been generously donated to the Northwest Railway Museum by the Shaw Family.  The car survived well into the 21st Century because it was housed within a protective shelter.  Even so, the car is in remarkable condition because the Shaw family took such great care of it. Soon, it will be housed in the Train Shed exhibit building, but first it has to move off the island by barge and travel on I-90 to the Museum in Snoqualmie.

Car 1799 was listed on the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation's 2017 Most Endangered List and fundraising to aid its preservation began last year with the Seattle Foundation's charitable giving event called Give Big 2017.  Moving an 80,000 pound wooden rail car off an ocean beach is a big undertaking so a great deal of planning has already gone into the project.  Yet the reality of moving such a large object hit home only when a team of more than a dozen Museum Volunteers began dismantling the shelter that has protected the parlor car since the mid 1970s.

The structure built more than 40 years ago and was constructed predominantly of western red cedar.  It was well-built and sturdy, yet the volunteer crew was able to make quick work of the dismantling process, which was performed methodically to avoid damage to the car.

In all, more than 200 hours person hours were invested in the deconstruction process, but there were other aspects to the project too.  When 1799 was improved with the new shelter, new entry doors were cut into the car's sides.  This made the structure more suitable and convenient as a cottage, but it meant the structure that allowed it to function as a rail car had been weakened. To make the car frame strong enough to move, temporary repairs to the letter board and truss plank were performed. 

Meanwhile, the deconstruction crew continued to remove the overlying structure. By late April 2018 as local temperatures reached into the 80s, the car was out in the open for the first time in more than 40 years.  The next step in the process turns the car over to Nickel Brothers for the barge and highway move to the Museum.

Please consider supporting this project with a contribution to Give BIG 2018!  Visit the Museum's page to schedule your donation today!

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