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Northwest Railway Museum 

Description

Northwest Railway Museum teaches, preserves and perpetuates Northwest railway history by operating a living museum where visitors participate in a historically-accurate experience. These exciting yet educational programs are building a broad and diverse audience. Many programs feature an operating railroad with - quite literally - all the bells and whistles, which encourage participation. The primary audience is families with young children and school children however programs are of interest to all ages.

Mission Statement
To develop and operate an outstanding railroad museum that provides the public a place to experience the excitement of a working railroad and to see and understand the significance of railroads in the development and settlement of Washington and adjacent areas.
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Northwest Railway Museum
PO Box 459 
Snoqualmie 
WA
98065-0459 
(425) 888-3030 

Richard R. Anderson 
Executive Director 

Programs

Northwest Railway Museum Programs

The Museum is continuing to develop the Railway History Center campus in Snoqualmie where new indoor facilities already house a portion of the collection and host public programs. This $10 million initial development is 2/3 complete and remains the organization's top long term goal. The next stage in development is a structure to house public restrooms, program staff and a library/archives for the collection of published material. Detailed design began in spring 2013.           

Other goals include complete cataloging of the collection, improved collections care, and improving and expanding historical interpretation.

Interpretive Railway
Visitors travel on a vintage rail excursion through the Cascade foothills and experience what it was like traveling by train in the early 20th Century. The coaches were built in the early 20th Century and operated in Washington State until the 1940s; they have received a second life at the Northwest Railway Museum and each year receive nearly 50,000 passengers.                  

Running Trades
Volunteers learn to be conductors, locomotive engineers and brakemen, and operate trains on the Museum's railroad.                

Interpretive Exhibits
Exhibits of large and small objects along with interpretive signage allow the public to see and understand the role and significance of railroads in the development of the Northwest. Exhibits are in and around the Snoqualmie Depot (free), along Snoqualmie's Centennial Trail (free), and in the Railway History Center Exhibit Building (admission fee.)                  

Large object collection care practices, outreach via the web, and a railway history research library are three additional programs the Museum offers.

Recent Successes and Current Challenges

Chapel car 5 Messenger of Peace rehabilitation
The chapel car (http://www.messengerofpeace.org) has been rehabilitated in the Conservation and Restoration Center, the Museum's large object collection care facility. The car is a National treasure and received structural repairs of the wood carbody, and restoration of missing windows and interior appointments. By early 2013 the project was 95% complete with major work wrapping up.
 
This $450,000 project received major support from Save America's Treasures, 4Culture, American Express Foundation, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Washington State Historical Society and private donors. Remaining work includes funding, fabrication and installation of replica lighting, additional pews, and the remaining sections of platform railings. The car will debut to the public in summer 2013 inside the Museum's Train Shed, the new 25,000 square feet exhibit building that opened in 2011.

Coach 218
The Museum's Conservation and Restoration Shop is focused on a 1912-built wood coach that served on passenger trains between Vancouver and Spokane. This car is typical of wood coaches that operated across Washington State through the late 1940s. The $250,000 project is replacing the roof, repairing the carbody, and performing extensive interior rehabilitation and restoration.  Substantial completion is planned for 2013 and will operate on the Museum's interpretive railway between North Bend and Snoqualmie Falls. The visiting public will be able to ride on board the completed car!

Evaluation

The Northwest Railway Museum is a non-traditional cultural attraction that is unique in the Pacific Northwest. The Museum teaches, preserves, and perpetuates railway history through a combination of static and operating rail history exhibits. Traditionally, visitors received their museum experience by traveling on the interpretive railway between Snoqualmie and North Bend.  Now, the experience is being enhanced by a  more complete museum experience that also includes an exhibit gallery.  This enhancement is called the Railway History Center.

Northwest Railway Museum's Railway History Center is a project to construct a campus featuring exhibition space, collection storage, collection care and administrative offices. The first phase, a collection care facility, was completed in 2006. Phase II is a 25,000 square-foot Train Shed exhibit building, which was completed in 2011. Phase III will be a library, administrative space, and public restrooms and construction is scheduled for completion in 2014.

The library phase of the capital campaign has an objective of $2.5 million; $850,000 has been secured so far.  This third phase of the railway history center will expand the Museum’s full time operation to the exhibit building and allow school groups to visit year ‘round.

The Museum is best known for the Snoqualmie Depot, an 1890-built Victorian-style train station located in downtown Snoqualmie.  This national treasure has been fully restored to its 1890s appearance and serves as the centerpiece of historic downtown Snoqualmie.

The Museum recently completed rehabilitation of the chapel car 5 Messenger of Peace, and 1898-built railway car that served as a mobile church.  The object is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and will be the centerpiece exhibit in the new Train Shed exhibit building beginning in fall 2013.

Grant History with The Seattle Foundation:

Grants Awarded through The Seattle Foundation Grantmaking Program:

DateAmountPurpose
12/10/2007 $25,000.00support the Railway History Center Train Shed capital campaign.
3/16/2005 $5,000.00support general operating expenses.

Financials

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