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Northwest Railway Museum's CRC plan is on track

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SNOQUALMIE - The relics that greet travelers to Snoqualmie every day may finally get a little R and R from the elements.

The Northwest Railway Museum is making progress with plans for its Conservation and Restoration Center (CRC), a specialized facility that will house railway transportation artifacts during their upkeep and restoration. In the works for the last seven years, permits are now before the city after many trips back to the drawing board over planning hang-ups.

With a track and a railway car inside the building, it will have to withstand a lot of weight, "up to 350,000 pounds, which is a tremendous amount of weight for the soil in the Valley here," said Richard Anderson, executive director of the museum.

Steam and diesel-electric locomotives, passenger coaches, freight cars and maintenance-of-way vehicles such as cranes and snow plows will all grace the new 8,400-square-foot facility for visitors to see. The CRC will allow collection care to be performed inside a heated building, including preservation, restoration, reconstruction and maintenance, whereas before it could only be done outside during summer months.

"The most important thing it'll do for the railway museum is allow a higher standard of collection care," Anderson said. "It will be an important facility for programs at the museum. It really will be a railway history classroom in a lot of ways."

Completion of the CRC will also allow for the expansion of museum programs and facilitate improved collection care practices. The CRC will be built adjacent to the main track, just east of downtown Snoqualmie. The project will include approximately 1,400 feet of additional track to access the building and to store cars and locomotives. The development will include a visitor gallery, workshop facilities and a wheelchair accessible restroom. Visitors will travel by train to this facility.

Construction on the $1.9-million project will begin in April or May. The actual building, however, will only cost a fraction of that. A water line, sewer line extensions, electricity and a parking lot need to be put in. The greatest cost will be equipping the building to hold a locomotive inside. The entire project should take nine to 12 months to complete, depending on weather.

"Conservation and restoration are two terms we borrowed from the technical description of the work we do there," Anderson said. "We're articulating to the public what's involved in caring for museum artifacts."

A number of the museum's artifacts are eligible for listing in the national register of historic structures.

Some 80,000 visitors pass through the museum each year. Anderson feels the addition will draw even more people. The museum was incorporated in 1957 with public programming beginning in 1967 that has been expanding ever since.

The Northwest Railway Museum continues to raise funds for the CRC and is doing well with half of the required amount in tow, but it's still looking for support.

Contributions to the Northwest Railway Museum are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. For information, contact executive director Richard R. Anderson by e-mail at rra@trainmuseum.org or by telephone at (425) 888-3030, extension 201.

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