Steam train restoration underway at museum

The Northwest Railway Museum’s steam program is continuing work on the restoration of two steam locomotives, but neither the former Northern Pacific Railway locomotive 924 or the Baldwin Locomotive Works’ “10-wheeler” locomotive 14 will be running in time for this weekend’s Railroad Days activities.

The Santa Cruz Portland Cement Company Locomotive 2 provides steam power for train rides from the Northwest Railway Museum for Railroad Days and through the summer.

The Northwest Railway Museum’s steam program is continuing work on the restoration of two steam locomotives, but neither the former Northern Pacific Railway locomotive 924 or the Baldwin Locomotive Works’ “10-wheeler” locomotive 14 will be running in time for this weekend’s Railroad Days activities.

Cristy Lake, volunteer coordinator and registrar at the museum, said that work began last year and could take 18 months to two years to complete.

“With the restoration you are rebuilding historic equipment,” Lake said. “You never know what you might find, so it may take longer.”

The museum is borrowing Stathi Pappas’ locomotive, the Santa Cruz Portland Cement Company Locomotive 2, to provide steam-powered rides again this year. Pappas is the museum’s curator of collections and he has owned the locomotive since 2006.

“It’s a 70-minute roundtrip ride from Snoqualmie through North Bend, back to Snoqualmie and up to Snoqualmie Falls where you see the crest of the Falls, then back to the depot,” Peggy Barchi, marketing and events manager and coordinator for Railroad Days, said of the weekend train rides.

Once work on the 924 is finished, then work on the 14 can begin, but the timeframe of completion can vary when it comes to restoration. The museum is trying to preserve as much of the locomotive as they can.

“We follow the National Park Service standards where we try to keep as much of the original as possible,” Lake said.

They have had to pull out tubing and run assessments on the integrity of the boiler, which was in good condition.

Barchi, said that these locomotives are bringing steam technology back to the museum after a long absence.

“This is the first time in over 20 years when steam locomotives have been pulling trains here,” Barchi said. “We are keeping steam alive and running for future generations.”

According to Lake, it takes a lot of work to keep a steam engine going, compared to that of a diesel-electric, so having two or more steam locomotives can allow for nonstop use even if one of the engines needs maintenance.

With the initiative to bring back steam trains to Snoqualmie, the Northwest Railway Museum is trying to really capture what makes this a historic spot.

“It’s preserving railroad history that most people don’t get to experience,” Lake said. “We are preserving a piece of Northwest history that you can’t get anywhere else.”

Barchi seconds that thought and says it’s a great way to show off the city of Snoqualmie.

“It’s a really great opportunity to show not just what Snoqualmie has been, but what it is and can be in the future,” Barchi said.

 

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