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Snoqualmie's Northwest Railway Museum plans a steam-powered revival; locals can help fund it

 Snoqualmie’s own Northwest Railway Museum is taking part in the fourth annual GiveBIG benefit to bring the Santa Cruz Portland Cement No. 2 engine (left, getting new lettering) to the Valley. - Courtesy photo
Snoqualmie’s own Northwest Railway Museum is taking part in the fourth annual GiveBIG benefit to bring the Santa Cruz Portland Cement No. 2 engine (left, getting new lettering) to the Valley.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Steam power could make a big comeback on the Valley’s railroads. And locals can help.

Fundraising for a visit by a vintage steam locomotive to Railroad Days, the Northwest Railway Museum in Snoqualmie is one beneficiary of the Seattle Foundation's Give Big benefit, held for a single day, Tuesday, May 6. The museum hopes to raise $12,000 to bring a 1909 steam train to town.

“This being the 125th anniversary, it’s a perfect time to be bringing a steam locomotive,” said Peggy Barchi, the museum's marketing and events manager.

“It really brings some of the history in,” Barchi said.

It was July 4, 1889, when trains first came to the Valley.  With tourism emerging as an affordable pasttime in the late 19th century, summer train trips to Snoqualmie Falls became popular for the residents of Seattle. The inaugural run of the excursion line, by the M.E. Church Society over the Seattle, Lake Shore and Eastern Railway Company lines, sparked many more visits.

It was only 20 years later that the train to visit the Valley, Santa Cruz Portland Cement No. 2 was built, in 1909, by H.K. Porter, Inc. Affectionately known as “The Chiggen,” this locomotive served as a billboard for a fried chicken restaurant for more than 30 years before rebuilding began. It is privately owned today.

The engine will be brought to the Valley during Railroad Days, August 15 to 17, on a special oversize-load truck. It's one of many new events that the museum is adding to the summer festival.

“This is a really big deal,” Barchi told the Record. Steam locomotives are very rare, she said. Only a handful still operate in North America.

“And, this allows the museum to bring steam history to life and work toward the goal of bringing steam to the museum on a full-time basis, fulfill its educational mission and help drive tourism in the Snoqualmie Valley, just as those early trains 125 years ago did.

“Everyone will see how cool it could be for the museum to get its own steam locomotive,” she added.

The fourth annual GiveBIG is a one-day, online charitable giving event that helps local nonprofits. Each donation made between midnight and midnight will be matched by the foundation.

You can learn more about the museum and donate at http://www.seattlefoundation.org/npos/Pages/NorthwestRailwayMuseum.aspx.

The Railway museum has posted about the event and the SCPC No. 2 engine on its website and on its Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/trainmuseum.

 

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