The prospect of a new train museum in downtown Snoqualmie has picked up steam.
On Sept. 12, the Snoqualmie City Council heard a proposal for a new model train museum that would be built at the corner of Snoqualmie Parkway and Railroad Avenue, just outside of the city’s downtown core, and feature a locally famous model train set known as Northwest Truck Lines.
The proposal was given by Peter Hambling, who has made headlines in local media, including The Seattle Times and King 5, after building a $4 million, 3,700-square-foot model train with a half-mile long track in the basement of his Medina home. The model set requires three people working nearly full time to keep it running, King 5 reported back in 2019.
The exhibit features 14 different geographic railroad locations from across western North America. Hambling said he traveled to each location to photograph and take soil samples while making his model. That’s not to mention the over 400 railroad books Hambling claims to have read during his research.
Hambling, the founder of Digital Control Incorporated, which builds products for underground construction, said he began building the train set back in 2006. He is now talking with multiple cities, including Snoqualmie, North Bend and Tacoma, about moving the train set into a museum.
“I’ve always had this vision we would move it out of the basement,” he said to the council. “I’ve never seen anything like it. I’ve seen other model railroad exhibits. They’re good, but not like this.”
The proposal is in its infancy, and logistics about land use and building still need to be sorted, but there appears to be unanimous support among the council to work with Hambling. Mayor Katherine Ross called the model “extraordinary” and indicated that the city plans to draft a memorandum of understanding to signify their desire to work with Hambling.
“It’s truly hard to express the size and scale and what they’ve done and the level of detail,” Councilmember Jo Johnson said of the model.
Other council members said the museum would fit in well with the city’s connection to the railroad.
“I think we’d be insane to let Tacoma or North Bend get this,” Councilmember Ethan Benson said.
There’s also hope that a museum on the corner of Railroad Avenue could help draw traffic coming from I-90 and heading toward Snoqualmie Falls towards downtown businesses.
“It would be such a plus for the almost 3 million people that come down the [Snoqualmie] Parkway that turn left, but don’t head downtown,” Councilmember Rob Wotton said.