Constructed between 2005 and 2007, the creation of the Conservation and Restoration Center represented the first step in a multiphased design for the Northwest Railway Museum's Railway History Center.  Below find a documentation of the CRC's development.


Conservation and Restoration Center Construction Begins!

Updated Friday, June 29, 2007

On Wednesday, October 5, 2005, site clearing for the new facility began.  Here are some of the first images we've collected.  We'll try to keep current photos on this page for those of you that can't regularly make it up to the site.  Scroll to the bottom of the page to view the most current images.

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Clayton Littlejohn's North Fork Enterprises was hired to clear and grub the site.  Clayton performed all the cutting.

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The first tree to fall was a cottonwood.  One cut with a chain saw and a large excavator pushed it over.

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The building footprint.  On a clear day, Mt Si will be clearly seen through the windows.  The excavator is where the building corner will be.

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Many of the trees removed to make way for the building were simply pushed over with an excavator.

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Logs were stripped of branches and hauled away to be chipped and burned as fuel.

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All the trees are down and the site is nearly ready for grading.

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On October 21, 2005, an excavator from Fife Sand and Gravel prepares the building footprint for stone piers.

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Subgrade for the future track leads are constructed on top of geotextile using pit run gravel and select structural material. 

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By October 27, 2005, the parking lot had been excavated and 36 inches of well-draining rock was placed and compacted.

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In this view looking railroad-west, the track lead sub grade can been seen in the distance on this beautiful October morning.

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Ensuring the building is built in the correct location is the responsibility of the surveyor.  PLS Inc. of Issaquah is the project surveyor and their surveyors are on site frequently to establish benchmarks.  Nearly everything has been designed and referenced in relation to the existing historic railroad tracks.                     

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 The CRC site is a beautiful location.  Trees and other plants from a variety of species surround the building footprint.  The building and site design were created by DLC Architects and Weaver Engineering.  They blend improvements with the environment and construction is preserving most of the surrounding environment.

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On November 2, 2005 GeoPiers was on site installing the first of 148 columns.  An average of 12 feet deep, these columns are constructed of compacted structural fill that is poured down this cylinder and compacted with a giant vibrator.

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As the column of compacted material is created, the temporary steel jacket is slowly removed.  The resulting base is more stable and predictable than that created by preloading the site with 12 feet of fill. It's also more cost-effective.

Pit 1 excavation

The first inspection pit takes shape as an excavator from Fife Sand and Gravel prepares the ground for the concrete formwork.  By Thanksgiving, the pit was ready for carpenters.

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Formwork for the spread footings that will support the walls takes shape on a chilly November 30, 2005.  A line of Geopiers sits invisibly but directly beneath.

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This formwork will create the floor of an inspection pit.  Due to winter weather, site dewatering is a necessity.  The completed pit will include a sump.

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Tons of steel reinforcing bars will be placed in the footings, floor and walls.  This steel is also an important part of seismic resistance - Puget Sound is in an earthquake zone.

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Inspection pit 1.  On Monday, December 5, a weed burner will melt the snow and the first concrete pour will take place.

Pit floor

The bottom of the pit is loaded with rebar providing support not just for the track but for the floor.

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The building foundation takes shape.  This is the northeast corner of the building. 

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The first pour: December 5, 2005.  This is the floor of the first inspection pit.  The rebar extending from the floor will be integrated into the pit wall.  After a few days of curing time, formwork will outline the walls.

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The spread footing gets its concrete. The rebar extending above the footing will form part of the lower wall.  In the Snoqualmie flood plain, flood proof construction is required up to three feet above the base flood elevation.

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Formwork takes shape under the gaze of Mt Si.

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Inspection pit #1.

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The floor of inspection pit #2 takes shape as a worker wires steel rebar into position.

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Steel rebar is placed in position at the bottom of the wheel drop pit.

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Lots of steel best summarizes the character of the new inspection pits in the CRC.  The walls must support locomotives that approach 200 tons.

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Concrete is pumped into the form work.  A crew of four spreads, vibrates and trowels it smooth.

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Floor of inspection pit two and the wheel pit shortly after the concrete is surfaced.

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A Glacier NW concrete truck dumps cement into the pump truck hopper.  A large pump forces the concrete up a boom-mounted hose.

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The pump truck operator uses a radio control to regulate the flow of concrete and adjust the position of the pump boom.

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Fife Sand and Gravel workers assemble the fire hydrant and sprinkler system dry pipe.

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Excavation for the water line adjacent to the main track.

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Reinforcing for the sides of inspection pit two and the wheel drop pit take shape.

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The building footprint takes shape.  In the foreground is formwork for the wall footing.

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This panoramic view of the building footprint was taken on January 6, 2006.  The lower wall is made of concrete as a means of flood proofing the structure.  Floor slab will be poured in mid January and will vary in thickness between six inches and 12 inches.

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The week of January 16, 2006, Huntco began boring utilities.  This rig (left image) will pull 750 feet of three inch plastic sewer pipe under Kimball Creek (right image) from Meadowbrook Way SE to the Stone Quarry Road.

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Meanwhile, back at the building site, special fabrications to hold the rail fastening clips arrive and will be set into the formwork  just before the floor is poured.  Rail clips are a relatively modern form of rail fastener and are increasing used in place of conventional track  spikes, especially when the supporting surface is concrete or steel instead of wood.  These fabrications weigh approximately 750 pounds each and also help spread the loading for larger locomotives that may use the facility.

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The building walls continue to take shape in this view taken on January 17, 2006.  The rectangular holes in the lower walls are part of the flood-proofing required by FEMA flood plain regulations - the top of the opening corresponds to the 100 year flood elevation.  It was not feasible to build the CRC above the base flood elevation because that would have required the track leading to the building to be  on a 2% grade.  Almost all of the Museum's property is located in the 100 year flood plain.

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All the lower walls and foundation have been poured and the formwork stripped.  Openings in the foreground walls are for doors.  A new fire hydrant is nearest the camera.

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The new eight inch diameter plastic water main was bored on January 24, 2006.  This large pipe is required to meet fire flow requirements.

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To the right is the future visitor gallery and restroom.  The drain and sewer connection are installed, the rebar is in place and floor is ready to pour. Behind the building, an excavator installs  the downspout connections and storm water infiltration trench.

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Throughout the building footprint are conduits and pipes that will carry electric wires, water, sewer, and compressed air.  In the corner are bolts for the building columns that are held in place with plywood forms until the concrete is poured and set.

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One last minute conduit installation and the floor is ready for concrete.  The floor will be 6 to 12 inches thick.

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The area next to the inspection pits is heavily fortified with reinforcing bars to ensure proper support for jacking operations.

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An elaborate floor drain system is featured in the CRC.  The drain system is interrupted for the future rails. 

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It's February 7, 2006 and the concrete pumping truck is on site again. The final major concrete work and floor pour begins.

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Stu directs concrete into the top of the inspection pit form.

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Finishing crew works to complete the top of the wheel drop pit walls.

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The top portion of the inspection pits features an extra thick section for jack supports.  Many yards of concrete were required to fill this segment.  As it began to cure, bolts that will later secure the rails were inserted.

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Nearly 200 yards of concrete later, the floor and foundation have been completed and the finishing crew takes over.  They will be working the surface long after dark to ensure a smooth finish.  

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The morning after the pour, a concrete cutting service is on site to cut control joints.  These two inch deep cuts control cracking, which is inevitable as the concrete cures.  

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A series of infiltration trenches were built to the east of the CRC.  Storm water from the roof will be directed to these trenches and slowly recharge the local water table.  

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The steel building frame arrived on February 20, 2006 and awaits the erecting crew.

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Aerial view of the wheel pit, inspection pits, main track, and parking lot.

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Supports for the public gallery and restroom begin to take shape in this aerial view shot from the lift that will be used to erect the building.  For scale, note worker in the right pit.

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This retaining wall will support the track that accesses track two and the wheel pit.  These split-face concrete blocks will weather nicely and take on a rustic appearance.

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Columns were positioned in preparation for erection.

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The first column was lowered into place on a damp March 4, 2006.

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An extension fork lift and a man lift were used to place and secure each column.

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Main columns were standing and braced late on Sunday, March 5, 2006.

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Safety is essential.  The wheel pit and inspection pits received a temporary railing to prevent workers from falling in.

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The visitor gallery and restroom will be located on an elevated platform.  A completed deck now stands and the steps are under way.

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Steps and railings soon take shape.

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Meanwhile, the rear firewall takes shape.

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The rear firewall received two large openings to accept windows.

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And framing for the restroom will provide for  full ADA accessibility features.

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By March 26, steel was flying again.  Most members were hoisted using a man lift.

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A few days later, roof trusses and crane rails were in place and purlins were being installed. 

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An extendable forklift was used to hoist larger pieces into position.

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This is the view future visitors to the CRC will enjoy from the visitor gallery.

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The final roof purlins were installed on April 14  and soon the building will be enclosed. 

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With all the framing in place, the roof cladding is ready to apply. 

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The sky web system is being installed to retain the insulation and protect roof workers from falling. 

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Possibly the last transparent shot of the CRC.  In a few days cladding will be applied to the roof and sides fully enclosing the structure.

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Roofing begins April 14.

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By April 17, several sections are complete

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Workers tightened bracing and the skyweb as roof installation progressed.

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In just 21 days the structure will be completely enclosed.

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Steel in all directions... A work sets the roof peak fascia over 30 feet up.
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Concrete bases for parking lot lights arrive...

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Fork lift sets a parking lot lamp.

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Overview of structure, April 21, 2006.

Electric panel

The week of 24 April 2006 electricians were on site installing electrical panels.

Parking curb

On 27 April 2006 Fife Sand and Gravel was back on site excavating for parking lot curbs.

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On 27 April 2006 substantial progress can be seen in construction of the Conservation and Restoration Center.

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Doors are framed - 18 feet tall.

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Siding and insulation was applied on May 2.

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Siding installation continued on May 3.

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The pit sump pump was installed May 3.

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Work continued on May 5. The south wall.
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The east wall is framed.  

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Picture windows.

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Final pieces of exterior siding are applied.

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Interior fire-rated wall received insulation.

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Exterior view, 13 May 2006.  Note application of gutters, completion of window frames.

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Interior view of work area, track one.  Building is closed in.

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Smith Fire Systems installed fire sprinkler piping along the ceiling nearly 30 feet above the floor.

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The north wall of the CRC is a one hour fire rated wall.  It has two layers of sheet rock and R-19 insulation.

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Door light fixtures and trim are added.  Corners, gutters, and hinged doors are a hunter green color.  Body of the building is a dark red similar to the Snoqualmie Depot.

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Interior of main work area with newly installed lighting.  Fire sprinkler heads are in the process of being installed and can be seen against the ceiling.

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View of track one work area.

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Installation of light fixture.

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New aluminum-framed windows.

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Building exterior, Memorial Day weekend.

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Interior walls were taped with "mud." This wall is rated as a one hour fire wall because the building sits less that 20 feet from the property line.  Although the project abuts a wetland buffer, inspectors enforce codes literally.

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All plaster board surfaces were painted with an off-white latex paint.  On the left, large windows grace the work area.  A four-foot wood wainscoting has been painted with an alkyd semi gloss to make future cleanup easier.

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Exterior lighting at dusk.

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These pavers will cover the new parking lot.

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Concrete interlocking pavers provide gaps for storm water to seep into the ground.  The concrete is also porous. This design eliminates the requirement for a water detention pond.

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Select crushed rock is compacted to form the parking lot sub grade.  All fine particles of sand and dirt have been removed to enhance drainage.

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A special-built German machine lays the pavers one course at a time.  Later, a tamper will seat the cobbles and a coarse aggregate will be swept into the cracks.

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The pavers lock tightly together and form an almost perfect parking lot.  If individual stones get damaged or broken, they can be replaced without significant effort.

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A sewage lift station is housed in this vault.  All sewage will be pumped 2,200 feet to the city sanitary sewer using a new force sewer main.  This system has sufficient capacity to also serve the future exhibit & collection storage building.

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One lucky worker got to locate the new sewer pipe and make the final connection.  Eight feet below the CRC floor level, ground water is apparent and a pump was used to keep the hole dry while connections were made.

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Track sub grade is spread and compacted in preparation for track construction.  On June 10, track construction will begin.

Last concrete

The last concrete pour for the CRC occurred on June 9 and was used to construct the last section of curbing for the parking lot.

Pit stairs

A metal fabricator constructed two sets of roll stairs that will be used to access the inspection pits.

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June 10, 2006 saw the first rail in the CRC.  Crews bolted sections of 112 RE rail together and slide it into the slots provided in the floor.

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Volunteers Ledingham, Pond and Sacket insert bolts into joint bars.

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The track continues westward and the CRC begins to look like the rendering.

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Landscaping of the parking lot

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The large doors for each track take shape.

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The building exterior was functionally complete by June 24, 2006.

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The turnout for track two begins to take shape.  "Brown" ties are treated with copper. 


The Conservation and Restoration Center was dedicated on August 5, 2006 exactly one year after the ground breaking.  Track construction will continue through November 2006.  In September 2006 Volunteers began moving tools and equipment into the building.  Setup and organization of the interior work spaces is expected to take three months.

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