Northwest Railway Museum wins county award for “Great Locomotive Swap”

The Northwest Railway Museum has won the Long Term Project Award from the Association of King County Historical Organizations for its “Great Locomotive Swap,” – its two-decade-long effort to return a two locomotives back to their home states.

The historical association, formed in 1977, works to preserve the history of King County, and includes historical societies from across the county. Its annual awards honor people, projects and organizations who have done work to preserve and share King County’s history.

“We are so pleased to be able to recognize the work our colleagues in the heritage field are doing to promote equity, justice, civic engagement and pride of place through history work,” said Hilary Pittenger, the association president.

The award recognizes the Railway Museum for work it completed this past November, when it moved two 330,000 pound locomotives between Washington and Nevada. One of the largest moves the museum has been involved in.

The move was part of a deal between the Snoqualmie Railway Museum and Nevada Northern Railway Foundation where the Kennecott Copper Locomotive 201 – which originally operated near Ely, Nevada until 1983 – would be moved from Snoqualmie back to its home state.

Locomotive 201 spent 20 years at the Northwest Railway Museum, pulling trains on the Snoqualmie Valley Railroad. However, it had been in storage since the Northwest Railway Museum acquired two much smaller Baldwin switchers to pull its passenger trains.

With Locomotive 201 moved, that made space for the Northwest Rail Museum to arrange for Northern Pacific Locomotive 125, the only survivor of the Walla Walla Valley Railway and the oldest surviving Northern Pacific Railway diesel-electric locomotive, to be brought out of storage at the Port of Longview. The locomotive was moved to Snoqualmie, arriving on Nov. 3. Moving the locomotive and turning the wheels required an investment of over $100,000, according to the the Northwest Railway Museum.

Northern Pacific Locomotive 125 is an American Locomotive Company model built in 1940 and was retired by the Port of Longview in the early 2000s. It was just the second diesel-electric locomotive on the Northern Pacific Railway and was first operated in Seattle. It also spent time in the Walla Walla Valley before being moved to Longview in the 1980s.

In May, the Northwest Railway Museum raised nearly $15,000 in efforts to restore Locomotive 125 to its original 1940 condition, when it first arrived in Seattle.

To see a full list of award winners, visit: