Museum director Richard Anderson and the driver who brought the car to Snoqualmie examine the car for places to reinforce the structure during the move onto the tracks. (Carol Ladwig/Staff Photo)

Rare electric interurban car added to museum’s collection

“It takes a little imagination,” Northwest Railway Museum Director Richard Anderson said, as a deteriorating 1907 train car arrived in Snoqualmie. A little imagination, but that’s all that’s needed to envision the luxurious origins of this newest acquisition by the Northwest Railway Museum.

This car, now without siding or wheels, was a donation from Paul Class and the Streetcar Investment Group, in Petaluma, Calif., but the all-electric interurban car is actually a Washington native.

Car 523 is the last known surviving Seattle-Tacoma electric interurban car, which operated a century ago on the Puget Sound Electric Railway. These cars, higher speed than in-city trolleys and cable cars, connected Renton, Kent, Auburn, Orillia, Milton, Fife, Tacoma, and other cities in the area.

The cars ran on electricity, making the railroad one of the early and at the time, biggest, consumers of electricity from the hydropower plant under Snoqualmie Falls.

“The Puget Sound Electric Railway was a big customer,” Anderson explained. “People didn’t have electric lights in their homes, so (the power company) had to have someone sell it to.”

Electric motors attached to the wheels drew power for the train from an electrified third rail, to reach speeds up to 60 mph. Some cars, like 523, also had the overhead apparatus for connecting to suspended power lines, for travel within cities.

The Puget Sound Electric Railway operated for more than 25 years but operations ended Dec. 31, 1928, when the company defaulted on bond payments.

Few artifacts remain from the electric interurban railroad. Portions of the right of way in King and Pierce Counties have been re-purposed as the Interurban Trail.

Northwest Railway Museum was excited to accept the donation of Car 523 last week and made arrangements to donate a flatbed car in the museum’s collection to the Polson Museum in Hoquiam, to make room for the new car. Another exhibit, the Weyerhaeuser steam locomotive 108, was sold last year to the Black Hills Central Railroad in South Dakota, to make room for the H.K. Porter steam locomotive, donated to the museum by the city of Bellingham, which arrived in the Valley Sept. 21.

Car 523 was loaded onto a truck last Saturday, Sept. 23 in Petaluma, for the trip to Snoqualmie. It arrived Wednesday afternoon, Sept. 27, and was offloaded to a museum flatbed car, for the trip to the museum’s conservation center, where it will be restored and eventually put on display.

King County 4Culture for funding the cost of transporting the car to Snoqualmie.

The all-electric interurban car is prepped and ready for lift-off. (Carol Ladwig/Staff Photo)

A crane lifts the donated electric car off the flatbed truck that hauled it from Petaluma, CA, and turns to set it on the flatbed train car that will take it to the Northwest Railway Museum’s conservation and restoration center. Men hold each corner by a rope so the car doesn’t spin. (Carol Ladwig/Staff Photo)

Volunteers help control the car as the crane lifts it onto the flatbed car on the tracks. (Carol Ladwig/Staff Photo)

With the car lined up with the flatbed, volunteers began the work of adding supports to hold the car steady for its next move, down the tracks. (Carol Ladwig/Staff Photo)

More in Life

Rainbow Bingo at Mount Si Senior Center Jan. 26

The event will be held 5:30 p.m.-9 p.m.

Snoqualmie Tribe donates AEDs, Narcan

The tribe donated 200 automated external defibrillator units to local organizations and agencies.

In 2019, less is more

Set waste reduction goals with other resolutions

North Bend and Snoqualmie celebrate the holidays

Snoqualmie Mayor Matt Larson presented Santa with a key to the city.

Mount Si High School’s Mary Piekarczyk and James Kolke were recently accepted to the Washington Music Educators Association All-State Concert Band. Photo courtesy of Mount Si High School
Piekarczyk, Kolke win All-State slots

The WMEA All-State groups will meet in Portland, Ore., Feb. 15-17.

Mary Piekarczyk, Elijah Wray, James Kolke, Ryan Myrvold, Erik Thurston and Hannah Stoddard were selected for the Western International Band Clinic held last month. Photo courtesy of Mount Si High School
Mount Si High School students selected for Western band

This year’s conference was held in Seattle on the weekend of Nov. 16-19.

WM veterans bring safety to our community

A column written by Hannah Scholes, Waste Management’s recycling education and outreach coordinator.

Mark and April Bennett sharing their story with the audience. Photo courtesy of Erik Alston Photography.
Encompass gala raises more than $460K

The nonprofit partners with families to build healthy foundations for children.

Mount Si Senior Center honors veterans at annual luncheon

Local veterans gathered at Mount Si Senior Center for the annual Veterans Day celebration.

Railroad history now in kiosk on Preston-Snoqualmie Trail

Folks who enjoy the Preston-Snoqualmie Trail may not remember that it is… Continue reading

OPINION: KCLS supports citizen engagement year-round

Voter resources available at area libraries.

North Bend completes full renovation of NE 12th Street

North Bend has completed a long time priority project, the improvement of NE 12th Street.