Thursday, May 17, 2018

Parlor car service on the Interstate?

Well, not quite, but the Northern Pacific Railway parlor car 1799 did have an eventful trip on three Interstate highways as it continued its journey to the Northwest Railway Museum in Snoqualmie, destined to arrive via old I-90.  The recent run of unusually hot and dry summer weather - in early May - has served the 1901-built artifact well, and made the process of moving it much easier and less stressful.  And thanks to the careful efforts of Nickel Brothers, the support and cooperation of WSDOT, the City of Seattle, and the City of Snoqualmie, the 1799 has landed in Snoqualmie. 

Moving an oversize load in Washington State is now a little different than it was a few years ago.  Moves of parlor car size must be made at night, cannot go over the floating bridges, and require a police escort.  

The move began by slowly rolling out of the port facility on the Duwamish River.  Just shy of highway 99, the trailer was modified with additional axles, a device most truckers call a jeep, or jeep dolly.  This extended the overall length of the assembly to more than 156 feet, and spread the substantial weight over a greater area.

The really interesting part of the parlor car move was taking up two lanes of traffic, and Spike can attest to the significant volume of traffic on I-405 at 3 AM, and the distraction that the parlor car created.  One brief moment of excitement was when some blocking began to loosen, and the entire convoy stopped on the shoulder in Renton, which really means a wide shoulder plus an entire lane of traffic.  But after some quick work, the parlor car was underway again.

More excitement was in store in Snoqualmie when the parlor car attempted to negotiate the roundabout at the Snoqualmie Casino.  Unfortunately, there was a minor miscalculation and the trailer - even in shortened state - was just a little too long: there is a concrete monument in the center of the roundabout that provides an absolute limit.  So the entire rig was turned around and entered Snoqualmie via the parkway.  The parlor car passed by the Snoqualmie Depot after all, and arrived at the Museum campus just as the sun came up!

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