Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Abby Williams Hill Exhibit

The newest exhibit in the Train Shed Exhibit Hall is on loan to the Museum for the next year from the University of Puget Sound. This new exhibit follows the life of artist Abby Williams Hill. You might ask, “Who was Abby Williams Hill and what does she have to do with Pacific Northwest railroad history?”

Abby Williams Hill (1861-1943) was a landscape painter who is known for her commissioned works for the Great Northern Railway and Northern Pacific Railway companies in the early 1900s. Her paintings were exhibited at the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904, the Lewis and Clark Exposition in Portland in 1905, the Jamestown Centennial in 1907, and the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in 1909. Her works promoted rail tourism including being printed in a travel pamphlet for the Great Northern Railway entitled Scenic Washington Along The Line (of the) Great Northern Railway in 1904.

The University of Puget Sound has graciously loaned the six panel exhibit to the Northwest Railway Museum through February 4, 2022. The collection was donated to the University by Hill's daughter, Mrs. Ina Hill. Many of Hill's paintings are on permanent display in the Collins Memorial Library and other spaces on campus. Hill's personal papers are held in the Archives & Special Collections of the University’s Collins Memorial Library. The Abby Williams Hill Collection contains approximately 150 paintings and drawings and includes letters, diaries, day books, postcards, news clippings, ephemera, and artifacts documenting the life of Hill and her family. The Hill Collection documents her travels across the nation and in Europe, her relationship with her husband and four children, her experiences hiking and painting in the Pacific Northwest wilderness, and her passion for social causes including her work with the Congress of Mothers.

Thanks to the curatorial staff of the University of Puget Sound, now you can view the exhibit and learn about the incredible life of Abby Williams Hill when you visit the Train Shed Exhibit Hall. The Train Shed Exhibit Hall is open Thursday- Sunday, 11AM-4PM. Tickets are available online or admission is free when you purchase a train ride ticket.


Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Trucks for the Parlor Car

The parlor car in 2016 on Whidby Island 
Parlor car 1799 was built by Pullman in 1901 and is typical of an extra fare day service car of the era.  It and an identical car were the Northern Pacific's very first true all parlor car.  It was donated to the Museum in 2018 and moved to Snoqualmie from Whidbey Island.  It had been used as a seaside cottage for more than 70 years, but is now destined to return to its former configuration as a Northern Pacific Railway parlor car.

The trucks arrive on a truck
When the car was reconfigured as a cottage, the trucks - frames that support the suspension, wheels and bearings - were removed and scrapped.  The original trucks were a standard design developed by the Master Car Builders (MCB) Association, and were of composite wood and steel construction.  This same truck design is found under chapel car 5 Messenger of Peace, and Spokane, Portland and Seattle coaches 213 & 218.  It is a design that was replaced by the late 1910s with all steel cast trucks.

The trucks were unloaded by
simultaneously lifting  all three axles

The Museum is delighted to share that Steven Butler and Morton Machine Works donated a pair of 1900s-vintage MCB trucks to the project.  The former Great Northern Railway baggage car trucks were located at the Texas State Railroad Museum and arrived by highway truck last Sunday morning.  This 25 ton load arrived on time after a four day drive from Palestine, TX.

Both trucks were unloaded in 45 minutes
The fine folks at Imhoff Contractor and Crane Service of Snoqualmie made quick work unloading the "new" parlor car trucks.  They were unloaded onto the Museum's main track and moved into the Conservation and Restoration Workshop where they will be rehabilitated in anticipation of installation under the parlor car later this year.

The transportation and unloading of this pair of MCB trucks was funded in part with individual donations, and grant funding from the Washington Heritage Capital Projects Fund of the Washington State Historical Society.  Work is being guided by research funded by the National Trust for Historic Preservation conducted by Mr. Kyle Wyatt, former Curator at the California State Railroad Museum.  Special thanks to Steven Butler for donating these important components to the parlor car.