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Snoqualmie Railroad Days | Rail’s mechanical history comes to life

The age of rail is far from over. Visitors can find interactive fun at Snoqualmie Railroad Days, learning about how railways have evolved in recent decades.Hosts at the Northwest Railway Museum will give demonstrations of upgrades that railroads have made since the days when train tracks were built by hand, 2 to 3:15 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 20 and 21.Visitors will see machines that were instrumental in the first phase of mechanization of the railroad, said Museum Executive Director Richard Anderson.Demonstrations include an automatic spiking machine, which places spikes on the tracks; a ballast regulator, which spreads rock on the track; and a tie spacing machine. Ties tend to creep when the track is in use, so this machines periodically restores the spacing between tracks.Until these machines were invented, every job was done manually by workers called ‘gandy dancers.’“They did most of the work by hand,” Anderson said.”They lined the rails, put down track, and did it with hand tools.”Railroads went through a period of mechanization and started applying new tools prior to World War II. In modern times, the 1960s and ‘70s, new machines began replacing the effort of people.“Some of the machines are almost too sophisticated, but they did the work of many men in a short period of time,” Anderson said.

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