Collection: Northern Pacific Railway Steam Rotary Snowplow #10

Rotary Snowplow #10 was built in 1907 by Alco-Cooke for the Northern Pacific Railway.  It  was used to clear snow from the railway line over Stampede Pass in Washington's Cascade mountain range.  Typically, it spent summers in Auburn and winters in Lester, up near the pass.  

Rotary snowplows are considered the big guns of snow fighting and were used to clear deep snow.  Consequently some years the rotary did not see any service.  Today a handful of rotary plows remain in service for exceptionally heavy snow falls but are powered with electric motors, not steam.

The "rotary" name refers to a large wheel on the front of the unit.  This wheel spins at approximately 60 RPM and captures snow in a series of scoops.   Centrifugal force then propels the snow out the top and off to one side of the track or the other.  Power to spin the wheel comes from a steam engine located inside the car body.  The plow is not self propelled and must be pushed by a locomotive.

If you've installed QuicktimeVR on your computer, click here to take a virtual tour of the cab.

The Rotary is on exhibit on the Niblock Spur at the intersection of Snoqualmie Parkway and Railroad Avenue. 




Rotary fire cab


Museum Volunteers rehabilitated the Rotary #10 in 2001/2002.  The Rotary rehabilitation is visual only - there just isn't enough snow in Snoqualmie to justify re-tubing the boiler.  You can see this King County Landmark at the Snoqualmie Depot.

Workers scaled failed coatings with a needle gun, wire wheel and scraper.  The surfaces were further prepared with air sanders.  Bare metal surfaces including the roof was coated with a single-component zinc urethane.   The top coat is a gloss black paint.  Lettering was applied with a masking film.

In 2003 a grant from 4Culture was used to replace the car body windows.  The doors and cab front windows were all repairable and have been reinstalled.

Special Update


Why do we still require masks? Transportation Security Adminsitration ("TSA") regulations currently require all railways, airlines and buses to have persons masked through January 2022. Though social distancing regulations are loosening in much of the region, the Snoqualmie Valley Railroad falls under the jurisdiction of the Federal Railway Administration and TSA. We ask that all visitors over the age of 2 and require for those over the age of 5 to wear a mask that covers both nose and mouth while visiting. By order of King County, proof of vaccination will be required beginning October 25 for all visitors aged 12 and older. The vaccine requirement is a legal mandate imposed by King County. The Museum is required to enforce the law as a condition of remaining open to the public. The Museum has already lost $1.4 million from closures and capacity reductions, further closures would be absolutely disasterous to the Museum. For more information about our social distancing restrictions please visit our Social Distancing Updates page.

Museum Hours

Snoqualmie Depot Hours: 10am - 5pm, 7 days a week. No admission charge to visit the depot and grounds

Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year's Day. There is limited access during Day Out With Thomas and Santa Train events.

Railway History Campus Hours:  Closed Thanksgiving, December 18, 2021-February 18, 2022. Beginning February 19, 2022, Wednesdays through Mondays, 11am to 4pm.

Price: No admission charge to visit the Snoqualmie Depot and grounds. Admission $10 per adult (age 13+), $5 per child (2-12) to visit the Train Shed Exhibit Hall

Riding the Train: Saturdays, January-March; Saturdays and Sundays, April-December