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