Thursday, October 8, 2020

All Aboard! Train Excursions Resume

The train crew was excited to welcome the first passengers of 2020 on board.
The call of "All Aboard" rang out loud and clear on Saturday, October 3rd as weekend train ride excursions began for the first time in 2020. With online tickets in hand (or on cell phones), passengers of all ages arrived filled with excitement to enjoy the beauty of the Upper Snoqualmie Valley via the historic train. While carefully following the Safe Start rules of social distancing and mask usage, this season's train rides give passengers a sense of what it was like a century ago to visit the region. And in the hustle & bustle and stress of modern life, it lets everyone slow down and just enjoy the ride.   

Take A Ride

Boarding the train at either the Snoqualmie Depot or the North Bend Depot, guests enjoy the panorama of life along 5.5 miles of the original 1889 Seattle Lake Shore and Eastern Railway. Featuring views of the Snoqualmie River and stately Mount Si, the train rambles over historic Bridge 35, passes by historic heritage fruit trees and lets guests see the dramatic drop below Snoqualmie Falls. At times, members of the infamous North Bend Elk herd may be spotted! 

Passing through Snoqualmie and North Bend, passengers glimpse buildings that represent the area's past, present and future and provide interesting post-ride shopping and dining experiences! And all of the train excursions include the opportunity for guests to enjoy a drive up visit to the Train Shed Exhibit Hall, during its open hours, at their leisure. In the Train Shed, the story of how the railroad changed everything unfolds along a one way path featuring large and small pieces from the Museum's collection.


Seasonal Train Rides

This season, look for holiday themed rides - Halloween Excursion and the Yuletide Express. Although past favorites (Halloween Storytelling and Santa Trains) are not available this year, the holiday spirit can't be dampened aboard the historic train. So come join the fun! Find out more and reserve your tickets for all of the 2020 train rides today. We look forward to seeing you and can't wait to greet you with a welcoming shout of  "All Aboard!"

Thanks for making it all possible

The Northwest Railway Museum is particularly grateful for direct public support that is helping it weather the crisis.  Reopening of the Museum has been made possible with generous support awarded by 4Culture, the City of Snoqualmie, HumanitiesWA, and the Washington State Library.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Bellingham Railway Museum

The Covid-19 crisis has been particularly difficult for museums.  The Northwest Railway Museum has been able to survive - at least so far - with a combination of public and private grants and loans.  Other historical societies and museums have not been quite as fortunate.  

The Bellingham Railway Museum was established in 2003 and located in historic downtown Bellingham.  It was notable for its awesome model railway exhibits, and was popular with young families.  Yet despite significant local support, it could not survive the closure forced by the Covid-19 crisis.  In June, its Board of Trustees announced that the temporary closure would be permanent.  

In Washington State, non-profits are generally expected to designate a succession plan in the event of its demise.  During the dissolution of a nonprofit, the Washington State Attorney General has the final approval of the distribution of a organization's assets.  The Attorney General is interested primarily in seeing that the assets remain with an organization of similar purpose.

The Northwest Railway Museum was listed as the Bellingham Railway Museum collection's successor, and was contacted early in the summer about the dissolution.  The Bellingham group was located in rented space so the Museum worked quickly to inventory, pack and move the collection to Snoqualmie.  Volunteers and staff spent countless hours in Bellingham preparing for the move, packing more than 400 file record boxes.

The effort was led by Cristy L., the Museum's Registrar.  A museum registrar is responsible for implementing policies and procedures pertaining to collection care.  This includes maintaining a collection inventory, knowing where everything in a collection is located, and protecting every aspect of its well-being including environment and security. 

The demise of any museum is a community tragedy, and a loss to all involved.  Yet the Northwest Railway Museum is trying to make the best of it, and is immediately incorporating the best aspects of the Bellingham collection into exhibits in the Train Shed.  Initially, this includes the Lionel train set, a dining car china collection, several lanterns and signal lamps, and a series of posters.

The Museum extends condolences to the Volunteers, Trustees and Staff of the Bellingham Railway Museum and to the Bellingham community for their loss, and gratitude to former Bellingham Railway Museum Executive Director Shelissa G. for her invaluable assistance in helping with the transition.

The Northwest Railway Museum gratefully acknowledges King County 4Culture and the Cares Act Reopen grant awarded in part to support the processing and move of the Bellingham Railway Museum collection to Snoqualmie.

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Critical Times Need Critical Support

How is the Northwest Railway Museum handling the pandemic?  This is arguably the most difficult period in the Museum's 63 year history, and continued community support is critical to recovery.  Notwithstanding, the Museum has used the closure to perform upgrades.  Exhibits, artifacts, and even publications are getting attention, and we are confident the Museum’s audience will see and appreciate the difference.

Notably, The Museum's publication, The Sounder, was redesigned in an effort led by Lee Ater of LOT22.  The changes bring the newsletter into line with branding standards, easier to produce and make it more visually interesting.

Meanwhile, with the expectations for reopening the Museum came an opportunity to upgrade exhibits. This resulted in more interpretive content, and transformed the hall into a more visually-interesting experience, both of which are vital to attracting and retaining an audience.

Sadly, many pandemic-related orders are affecting the Museum in truly negative ways.  The continuing prohibition on events is particularly damaging because it devastates both audience and income.  And even if events were permitted in King County, they would be limited to just 50 people. Unfortunately, none of the Museum’s events are economically viable when serving smaller groups.

The Museum is unable to host Halloween or Santa Train this year. However, we are improvising, and hope you will attend our alternative Safe Start activities! Beginning October 3, the Museum will operate regular train ride excursions, using  social distancing practices, most weekends through the end of the year.  At Halloween and during the Christmas season, trains will operate with appropriate holiday themes such as the Yuletide Express, but guests will remain on board for the duration of their visit.  We know this may not be to everyone’s liking, but it does appear to be the Museum’s best practical alternative that keeps staff, volunteers and visitors safe, and complies with the law. 

Externally, we sadly share that the pandemic has been particularly difficult for all museums. The Bellingham Railway Museum closed its doors in March, and it was soon apparent that it would never reopen. NRM staff and volunteers worked with their officers and former staff to ensure their collection is preserved, and remains in the public domain. Over the summer the collection was boxed up and moved to Snoqualmie. Their beloved Lionel 027 layout has been reassembled in the Train Shed, and will soon be operational. We extend our heart-felt condolences to their staff and volunteers for their loss—closing a museum is heart-breaking.

Your Support is Critical

We wish to thank you for your continued support during these uncertain times. The Northwest Railway Museum is dynamic and successful in part because of people just like you. Now, during the Covid-19 crisis, we need your support more than ever. Please consider helping to sustain the Museum in any of the following ways:

Visit to find out how you can help.

Not everything about 2020 has been negative. The happiest news of the year remains the success of steam locomotive 924. Despite challenges, the 924 has successfully operated under its own power this year. Like the chapel car 5 project before it, the 924 work generated more questions than expected, but the skillful dedication of museum volunteers and staff have allowed work to continue. We hope you will be able to join us for the first run this fall—check for updates.