Monday, March 4, 2019

Looking to the Future

Site layout for the Railway History Center
Railway History Center Master Site Plan schematic
The Northwest Railway Museum has been developing the Railway History Center in Snoqualmie for more than ten years.  Today, it consists of three buildings - CRC, Train Shed, and REC - but the Master Site Plan includes a fourth structure that is intended to provide expanded exhibits and public programming.  The Roundhouse structure has been envisioned as a modern building with design motifs peculiar to railroad locomotive roundhouses of the 19th and early 20th Centuries.

Stone roundhouse on the Northern Pacific Railway at Lester circa 1910
NPR roundhouse at Lester, circa 1910

After an investment of more than $10 million, the Railway History Center is already a facility that provides for collection care, exhibits, excellent programming, a research library, administration, and even a classroom.  The next step is a space to expand the depth and breadth of interpretation, which will help fulfill the Mission and expand the audience. 

At the annual Northwest Railway Museum Volunteer Banquet held on March 2, 2019 the Museum announced to its volunteers that the fourth building concept is going to be studied.  The Master Site Plan approval includes environmental clearance and has a finite life.  In the next few years, the Museum has to decide if it will be built, and if so what it will include. Features, design elements, or considerations being studied and already provided for in the current city approvals include provisions to,
  • Prominently feature operating models to illustrate interpretive themes and provide context for featured exhibits
  • Provide permanent homes in fully conditioned space for King County and City of Snoqualmie Landmarks including Puget Sound Electric Railway 523, Northern Pacific Railway rotary snow plow 10, Chapel car 5 Messenger of Peace, and Northern Pacific Railway steam locomotive 924
  • Provide for off peak train operations, possibly featuring Puget Sound Electric Railway car 523
  • Include adaptive space that may be used for large groups including banquets
  • Provide additional support facilities for programs and events including laundry, kitchen and locker rooms
  • Allow for additional visitor and volunteer parking
The Museum is merely in the study phase right now, but the possibilities this final phase of the Railway History Center presents makes this a truly exciting time for railway history in Western Washington.  The parameters of the study were still being formed at the time of this writing, but consultant will be hired this spring.  The Museum hopes to announce the results of the planning exercise later this year.

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