Engineer and daughter on NP locomotiveReconstruction of North Bend Way signals and crossing in 2001Snoqualmie Depot circa 1896Eccentric crank on locomotive 11Conservation and Restoration Center, July 2006

Welcome to the Northwest Railway Museum

DSC 0779We invite you to travel to Snoqualmie where you can - Visit a Victorian depot. Learn how the railway changed Washington and influenced settlement. See and feel the excitement of a working railroad. Experience what travel was like before Interstate highways. Hear all the bells and whistles. Travel back in time. See the sights and all the sites. Shop in a book store and find a new book. Enjoy it for the pure spectacle!

Depot hours: 10am - 5pm, 7 days a week

Price: No admission charge to visit the depot and grounds.

Riding the Train:The train runs Saturdays and Sundays, April through the end of October.

Museum news

924 begins to progress towards steam!

924 begins to progress towards steam!
(L to R) Nathan I., Mark S., Zeb D., Karl., Stathi P., Mike, Al, and CJ V. (center) are just a select few of the many people working on the loco- motive 924 project, some from as far away as California and Idaho.  All except Stathi are volunteers!
Hammers are hammering, saws are sawing, torches are torching, welders are welding, and progress is beginning to show.  Projected as a two year effort, the scope of work for the rehabilitation and restoration of Northern Pacific Railway locomotive 924 is extensive so success is inextricably linked with methodical and consistent efforts.  In plain English?  No rest for the weary!  For the past several weeks, efforts have focused on documentation, disassembly, and the beginnings of boiler repairs.  Now, more than 20 people are involved so progress has picked up! 

The locomotive 924 is being rehabilitated and restored following the Secretary of the Interior Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties.  These are the same standards used for the chapel car 5 Messenger of Peace, Snoqualmie Depot, White River Lumber caboose 001, and Spokane, Portland and Seattle coach 218.  An important component of demonstrating compliance with the standards - and also a museum best management practice - includes thorough documentation of the object before, during and after.  So photographs, motion pictures, material samples, sketches, scale drawings, descriptive narratives, and more are used.

The 924 tender is intact but is in poor
shape.  The tank fabrication will be
replaced in-kind, but the frame and
trucks will be used largely "as is."
Thanks to several highly talented volunteers (Adam P., Dave H., Zeb D., and many others), the 924 tender has been documented.  A thorough evaluation has concluded the tank is in extremely poor condition.  Given the plan to operate the 924, the tender must be able to hold water.  Literally.  A steel tank that is more than 100 years old and riddled with pinholes throughout the lower half presents some challenges that are difficult to overcome.  So the tank will be completely replaced using new steel, but the existing frame, trucks, stairs, the post electric dynamo headlight, and pretty much every rivet (count 'em boys!) will faithfully replaced in the new fabrication.

The locomotive 924 cab has been
completely removed to allow boiler
work to be undertaken.
The 924 locomotive cab presents a dilemma similar to the tender tank.  While the cab remained intact, it was far from complete or suitable for an operating locomotive.  Extensive documentation has been completed by Mike, George, Russ S. and many others, and now the team is able to slowly deconstruct the cab.  Individual parts have been numbered and inventoried, and everything is being saved.  Removing the cab allows boiler work to be undertaken, and for the cab to be restored to its period of significance when it served the Northern Pacific Railway. 

The interior of the smoke box takes on
a surreal look with a work light shining
through the tube sheet.
Meanwhile, Mark and others are finishing up the scaling and cleaning process inside the boiler.  As reported in December, all the tubes have been removed and the interior appears to be in great shape.  However there will be some repairs required, including some firebox sheet replacement.  That work has begun and will be the subject of a future 924 blog report.

The 924 work is now well underway, but your support is critical to its success.  Costs to rehabilitate and restore two steam locomotives are projected at more than $600,000.  Your contribution in any amount will help allow work to continue, and is tax deductible to the extent permitted by law.  Please visit the Museum's donate now page and select "steam program."  All contributions received with this restriction will be used to purchase materials and services in support of locomotive 924 and (following completion of 924) locomotive 14.

Flood Waters, No Damage

Flood Waters, No Damage

Bridge 32 in downtown Snoqualmie is
quickly engulfed in water.  Normally,
Kimball Creek is 18 inches deep and
about ten feet wide.
The Northwest Railway Museum is located in the urban flood plain.  That really isn't something the Museum has any choice about because it is built on and around a 19th Century railroad, and most mountain railroads are either along the river or on a hillside.  Last Monday, January 5, 2015, heavy rain combined with melting snow to create a rapidly rising river that crested at one of the highest flow rates ever recorded. Fortunately, the Museum avoided any significant damage.
The Salish Lodge and Spa keeps watch
over an angry river as it plunges over
the top of Snoqualmie Falls.
The Seattle, Lake Shore and Eastern Railway arrived in Snoqualmie in 1889 (the Museum commemorated the 125th anniversary of passenger service to Snoqualmie Falls with a special train on July 4th, 2014) and the civil engineer  - Charles Baker - that designed the line chose the best possible grade and location.  Interestingly, the Snoqualmie Depot in downtown Snoqualmie is the highest point in downtown (it is unlikely that was by accident) as was much of the line but encroaching development has brought structures and significant changes in surface water management. So now some of the railroad grade is susceptible to flood damage because adjacent development constricts water flow and generates scouring velocities that have in the past removed vast quantities of railroad ballast from under the track. 

Bridge 35 is just a few feet above the
water in this image taken four hours
before cresting.,
Several projects in the last ten years have reduced flooding impacts.  First, a flood reduction project by the Army Corp of Engineers widened the river at Snoqualmie Falls to increase capacity of the river.  Second, Puget Sound Energy's rehabilitation of the Snoqualmie Falls hydro electric development removed the permanent weir (dam) across the river, but also other obstructions that were close to the river's edge including the remains of Bridge 5.46.

The flood waters get dangerously
close to the deck of the bridge.
Last Monday's flood was the first major event since completion of all the construction projects.  Naturally, when water flow rates approached those of prior major events including 2011 and 1996, many thought the Museum would sustain damage.  Fortunately, they were wrong.

The floor reduction projects appear to have made a difference.  Despite more than 51,000 cubic feet per second (normally it is about 2,000) of water flow over Snoqualmie Falls, there was no water over the track.  There was some minor scouring around bridge 35 in North Bend, but no damage that requires repair at this time. 

The flood reduction work that has spared the Museum damage during this recent event is not without controversy.  We cannot attest to the downstream impact in Fall City, Carnation and Duvall, which is a matter of considerable debate and has generated at least one lawsuit.  However, conditions for Snoqualmie and the Museum have improved dramatically, and bode well for the overall improved sustainability of the community. 

Steam begins to simmer

Rehabilitation of locomotive 924 is underway!  Some important progress has already been achieved with significant and positive news emerging since bringing the locomotive into the Conservation and Restoration Center this past fall. 

Inside the boiler barrel, scale is removed
from the inside of the tube sheet.
The first objective was to inspect the inside of the boiler, which required the boiler tubes to be removed.  To allow for tube removal, some other appliances and components had to be removed first including the master mechanic’s front end (helps direct exhaust and improve combustion), smoke box front, steam dome lid, and throttle valve.  Once that work was completed, then all the boiler tubes were removed to allow scaling and inspection of the boiler barrel interior.  The process has yielded some wonderful news: the inside of the barrel is in great shape.  Some of the witness marks used to lay out the rear tube sheet can still be seen!

Boiler sheet thickness measurements
were entered directly into a spreadsheet.
With a clean boiler barrel and access to the firebox, the team measured the thickness of the boiler sheets using an ultrasonic thickness tester.  Measurements were taken along a grid and provided data that was entered into a spreadsheet, which performed preliminary "form 4" boiler calculations.  The form 4 is what the Federal Railroad Administration uses to evaluate a request for approval to operate a locomotive boiler, and at this point in the project it represents a sort of acid test as to whether an historic locomotive is feasible to rehabilitate.  And the 924 successfully buffered the acid: preliminary calculations suggest an operating pressure of approximately 170 pounds per square inches, and without any major boiler work, provided there are no serious issues on the exterior.

A Federal Railroad Administration
inspector examines the 924's firebox.
During the annual inspection of SCPC 2, inspectors from the Federal Railroad Administration were able to make a brief visit to the 924.  They reviewed the initial work plan and looked inside the firebox.  Ensuring the Federal inspectors remain apprised of the work plan and progress is also an important part of the project.

An area of firebox side
sheet is being removed
to allow for replacement.
Certainly there is work to perform on the boiler that is desirable and will help ensure a full 1472 days of operation before the operating approval expires.  One area of attention involves the side sheets inside the firebox.  This area received some type of repair many decades ago, and the repair was performed with gas welding.  Today, such repairs are generally performed with electric welding and to ensure the integrity of the vessel, the old repair is being removed and replaced with a new patch.  this process will also require the stay bolts restraining this area to be replaced, in all numbering about 200 items.

So as 2014 draws to a close, the 1899-built locomotive 924 has a wonderful New Year to look forward to, and your support can ensure that the work continues!  Please consider a tax-deductible contribution to the "steam program campaign". All contributions will be used to rehabilitate and restore locomotive 924.

Cutting around stay bolts in the firebox side sheet.

Steam Program Launched

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

On October 20, 2014, the Northwest Railway Museum officially announced plans for a steam locomotive program, and identified the locomotives that have been selected for rehabilitation, restoration and operation. This is an exciting time for the Museum, and represents continuing fulfillment of the long-term plan first developed nearly 20 years ago.

The steam program will be integrated into the Museum’s interpretive railway, and has been developed with data measured during this year’s pilot steam program. In 2015, summer steam trains will formally launch and operate with Santa Cruz Portland Cement 2, the 0-4-0 steam locomotive on loan from the Museum’s Curator of Collections Stathi Pappas. This introductory program will operate Memorial Day weekend, most weekends in July and August, Labor Day weekend, and Halloween Train weekend in October. Following completion of the first of the Museum’s steam locomotive rehabilitations/restorations, the program is tentatively scheduled to expand beginning in late 2016. 

Northern Pacific Railway locomotive 924 selected first

Beginning immediately and over the next two years, the Museum will rehabilitate and restore former Northern Pacific Railway 924, a 0-6-0 (six-coupled) locomotive.  Built by Rogers Locomotive and Machine Works in 1899 for the St. Paul and Duluth Railroad as their number 74, the locomotive was renumbered 924 after that road was purchased by the Northern Pacific Railway. In the early 1900s it was Seattle’s King Street Station coach yard switcher, later serving the Seattle and Tacoma yards, and in light branch line service.  Sold in 1925 to the Inland Empire Paper Company in Millwood, Washington she remained on their roster until 1969.
This locomotive is a classic example of late 19th century Northwest switching and branch line steam locomotives.  When the locomotive is complete, the Museum will be the only American institution operating class one steam west of Colorado with regionally-appropriate motive power and rolling stock on its original railroad. 
Two operating locomotives will allow the steam program to continue during scheduled maintenance and periodic servicing, and will allow for expanded service during large events.  Consequently, the Museum is planning for the operation of two steam locomotives.

Canadian Collieries locomotive 14 selected as second.
Following completion of steam locomotive 924, the Museum will begin the complete rehabilitation of steam locomotive 14, a classic 4-6-0 (“ten wheeler”) locomotive. The 14 was built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1898 for the Union Colliery Company as their number 4 using the same design developed for the Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway. When that Vancouver Island mine was absorbed into Canadian Collieries, it was renumbered 14 and continued in service until 1960 when it was purchased by the Museum. 

Making it happen!
The Museum is making a significant commitment to steam by investing in people and facilities. A qualified team of paid and volunteer staff with prior experience in steam locomotive rehabilitation and restoration has been assembled and is being led by Curator of Collections Stathi Pappas. Pappas has a graduate degree in Archeology, and has participated or led more than a dozen similar projects.

The machinery required to perform the work has already been obtained for all aspects of boiler and running gear work.  The work will be performed inside the Conservation and Restoration Center, the purpose-built collections care facility opened in 2007 and already equipped with an inspection pit, a monolithic floor, and utilities including sanitary sewer with oil-water separator that allow the Museum to maintain the locomotives in an environmentally-responsible manner.  

On Tuesday, October 28, 2014, the Northwest Railway Museum steam restoration project officially launched with the movement of former Northern Pacific Railway steam locomotive 924 to the Conservation and Restoration Center.  The 1899-built Rogers six-coupled locomotive was carefully pulled from the static exhibit track in Snoqualmie by Baldwin Lima Hamilton-built diesel-electric locomotive 4024, an RS4-TC that powers regular trains at the Museum.  Work to collect data that will eventually allow the boiler to be certified is expected to begin shortly.
The curatorial steam team headed by Stathi Pappas made quick work of the assignment, which also relocated Baldwin-built steam locomotive 14 to an accessible storage track.  Canadian Collieries 14 is a 1898-built ten wheeler that will be the second locomotive to operate in the Museum's steam program.  Its pre WW II wood-framed tender presented several challenges to the team, but in the end was moved without sustaining any damage.  14 is in most respects similar to 924 so many techniques developed for the 924 will be transferable.  It is not expected in the Conservation and Restoration Center until locomotive 924 is substantially complete, possibly in 2016.  Locomotive 924 had a few issues to overcome too.  A door on the ash pan (924 was coal-fired until the very end) fell open and was discovered dragging along the ballast shortly after the locomotive began to move.  It was spotted and quickly wired up without incident, and the movement continued.

Several major grants and contributions have been pledged and work will begin next week; additional fundraising will be performed during the next 24 months to offset costs that will approach $1 million.  Contributions are encouraged and will be used to directly pay for the work performed; they can be made on the Museum's secure web site here and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. 

Lettering A Coach

The 1912-built wood coach 218 has been the focus of considerable rehabilitation effort at the Museum for some years.  In the final phase of work, some of the more iconic features of a passenger coach have finally begun to appear.  Grab irons, window latches, window lifts, and door stops are obvious to the passengers, but what about lettering?  Most passenger cars were lettered with the railroad name or company along the - you guessed it - letterboard.  "Great Northern", "Northern Pacific", "Union Pacific", "Canadian Pacific", or even "Seattle Lake Shore and Eastern" are documented in period photos.  Coach 218 operated on a railroad jointly owned by the Northern Pacific and the Great Northern called the Spokane, Portland and Seattle.  Fortunately, a photograph held in the collections of the Oregon Historical Society revealed what that looked like in 1912. Paint sample found along the edges of moldings allowed an accurate color match too.  Lettering in era it was built was usually gold leaf, which were actual thin sheets of gold attached to the side of the car with an adhesive.  Gold leaf could have been applied to the 218, but it is a skill set not resident at the Northwest Railway Museum.  Fortunately, modern metallic paint can give an appearance very similar to gold leaf by using a paint mask over a pre-painted metallic gold surface.  So the artisans in the Museum's Conservation and Restoration Center were able to create the stencils and paint mask required to reproduce that look, and earlier this fall the lettering made its first appearance. You can visit and RIDE on coach 218 at the Northwest Railway Museum .  Your next opportunity are the Halloween Steam Train rides on October 25 and 26.  See you there!

Meet Stathi Pappas

The Northwest Railway Museum is pleased to announce the appointment of Efstathios "Stathi" Pappas as the Curator of Collections.  Mr. Pappas brings a wealth of education and experience in the railway museum field and is best known for his skills in the rehabilitation, maintenance and operation of steam locomotives. He comes equipped with a Masters degree in Industrial Archaeology, and has performed major work on a variety of locomotives.

Stathi is responsible for the large object collection, including the coaches and locomotives that operate on the interpretive railway. Beginning this fall, he will be managing the Museum's steam program that will rehabilitate and operate a steam locomotive on a recurring basis as part of the interpretive railway program.  In the coming weeks he will be familiarizing himself with the Museum, and developing a detailed work plan.

Welcome aboard, Stathi!

Click here to read the full story on the Museum's blog.

Commercial photography restrictions

A permit is required for all commercial photography at the Northwest Railway Museum. This includes all individual and family portrait sessions where a photographer is hired to perform the work. The permit is available for purchase at the Depot Bookstore and allows the photographer to shoot for 90 minutes on Museum grounds. The cost is $50. Larger projects will require a more extensive evaluation - please respect the Museum's private property and the immense cost of maintaining the collection and operating programs. Contact the bookstore clerk for more information: (425) 888 - 3030 x 7202 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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