Thursday, October 31, 2019

Giving thanks for the chapel car

The Halloween Storytelling Train is an engaging family outing, but it also represents an annual gathering for the Hodgins Family to visit chapel car 5 Messenger of Peace and remember their father, Arthur Halleck Hodgins, 1910 - 2005.  

The chapel car had served the elder Hodgins as a cabana adjacent to the family home, first in Snohomish, and later near Grayland.  His son Hal recently recounted, 'one day back in 1971, dad was out walking and noticed the signs indicating that highway 2 was going to be widened.  He asked what was going to happen to the old rail car that had served as a roadside diner, and was told it would be demolished.  He asked if he could have it and was told that he could buy it for a $1. Very soon after it was in our backyard in Snohomish.  

Arthur lovingly cared for the chapel car, maintaining its unique Terne metal roof, and keeping fresh paint on the car's exposed exterior.  The car was a part of family gatherings and events for more than 30 years, and became important to them, too.  Sadly, Mr. Hodgins passed away in October 2005 at the age of 95.  

In 2007 the Hodgins Family donated the chapel car to the Northwest Railway Museum.  It was moved from near the town of Grayland on the Pacific coast to Snoqualmie that same year.  It was successfully nominated to the National Register of Historic Places in 2009, and secured a Save America's Treasures grant later that year.  Major rehabilitation work began in 2011 and the substantially complete car is now on exhibit in the Train Shed exhibit building in Snoqualmie.  

On 27 October 2019 the Hodgins Family traveled to Snoqualmie for their annual gathering in the  chapel car.  As part of this year's gathering, the Museum was delighted to unveil a plaque in the car recognizing the importance of Arthur H. Hodgins in preserving the chapel car.  Sons Art and Hal were on hand to acknowledge and pose for a photo.




The Trustees and Staff of the Northwest Railway Museum gratefully acknowledge the tireless dedication of
Arthur H. Hodgins
(24 June1910 – 15 October 2005)
preserving
Chapel car 5 Messenger of Peace
His foresight is allowing new generations to appreciate its magnificence as a mobile church, understand its role in community development, and view it as a grand example of the lost art of wooden railway car construction.
_______________________

          With gratitude, the Northwest Railway Museum, 27 October 2019

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Inside a caboose

Yes, a real caboose.  White River Lumber Company 001.  It was built at Enumclaw in 1945 and restored to its original appearance here at the Northwest Railway Museum by Dale C., Martin N., Rich W., Dick H., and others more than 10 years ago.  The effort earned an award from the King County Historic Preservation Program.

Beginning Friday, October 11, 2019 visitors to the Train Shed exhibit building will be able to visit inside caboose 001.  New steps and LED lighting are making this possible, and opening this new exhibit was encouraged by visitor feedback asking for the opportunity to go inside a caboose.

White River Lumber 001 is pretty spartan, as were most cabooses.  Its plain interior reflects the short trips it was used on from Enumclaw into the forest and back again.  In the closing days of WW II it may have traveled as far as Mt Rainier National Park, but always returned home the same day.


Notably, 001 was built during the war at Enumclaw.  This was because the war time ration board denied White River permission to purchase a new caboose.  Yet a caboose was required on log trains with ten or more cars.  So the logging company managers tasked their workers with building a caboose.  It is not a prime example of the fine art of car building, but it is an example of the thoughtful and utilitarian improvisation that was common in logging camps throughout the Northwest.  

Come and visit caboose 001 Thursday - Sunday from 11:00 am - 4:00 pm through the end of October.  Members are free.  Admission is included with all regular train tickets; trains depart Snoqualmie on Saturdays and Sundays 11:00 am, 12:30 pm, and 3 pm.  A la carte visitation is $10 for adults and $5 for children.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Mending a fence

Or building it from scratch.


Posts have been set in concrete just 
behind the paved trail edge.

Rails and trails are able to co-exist, but authorities do need to take measures to protect the trains from people (and pets) who try to wander off the path.  Protect the trains?  Yes, trains and engines generally do an outstanding job of staying on their tracks. It's the people and pets that don't stay on their "track."


The fence is actually adding a 
finished look to the trail, and looks
great in the presence of a
Northern Pacific Railway switch
stand.
A trail fencing plan was included in the City of Snoqualmie's 2013 downtown revitalization phase two, but unfortunately there were issues that prevented its full implementation.  Contract disputes, bad weather, and cost overruns all conspired to cancel a portion of the project.  So while a barrier was constructed in front of the Snoqualmie Depot and across from downtown businesses, it was not built along the trail from King Street to Northern Street.

In 2017 the Museum, City of Snoqualmie, and Washington State's Utilities and Transportation Commission discussed  options for adding a barrier between the tracks and the trail in the remaining "barrier free" zone.  Prefabricated metal fencing set at 42 inches was the option closest to consensus, and it was the design option that looked the best, too.


The fencing is now complete making
Snoqualmie safer for trains, people
& pets.
Funding 1,600 feet of fencing can be challenging, but the project was and is safety related.  Thanks to the support of Snoqualmie Mayor Matt Larson, Snoqualmie City Council and the Snoqualmie Public Works and Administration, the project remained a priority and was successfully funded.  A contract was let earlier this summer and the work was completed this week.


Pro tip: don't try to walk this
fence line.  Or sit on it, either!
Excursion trains now operate with a greatly reduced potential for people or pets running into them, making Snoqualmie safer for trains, people and pets.  Check it out for yourself: trains operate weekends through the end of October, and for Santa Train.