Northwest Railway Museum

A nonprofit organization

$15,817 raised by 68 donors

11% complete

$150,000 Goal

The Museum interprets how the railway changed everything through historical artifacts, including buildings, bridges, locomotives, tools, freight cars, and coaches. These artifacts show how railroads impacted Washington State, King County, and those who live here.

The Museum’s centerpiece and Snoqualmie’s most recognizable railroad structure is the Snoqualmie Depot, which is overdue for a roof replacement. The Museum asks for your support to replace the decorative western red cedar shingle roof.

Snoqualmie Depot Today

The Snoqualmie Depot is located in the center of the original town of Snoqualmie. It is surrounded by public spaces, including parks, public parking, and community gathering spaces. A portion of the building interior has been converted into free public restrooms, which serve local and out-of-town visitors to downtown, and a book store operates in one of the former waiting rooms. Public spaces inside and around the Depot serve as “third places,” which are places that facilitate social interaction outside of where you live or work and encourage public relaxation. Many parents, grandparents, nannies, and other caregivers bring their children to play with our train tables in our sheltered Freight Room exhibit area. Even on rainy, cold days, we find visitors inside the Freight Room making new friends in this space. In 2023 more than 130,000 individuals visited the Snoqualmie Depot. The Depot and its grounds are free to visit. 

The Snoqualmie Valley incorporates nearly one-third of King County. Less than a dozen heritage organizations interpret the history of this 900 square miles, which, from this perspective, is an underserved region of the county. As the largest museum in east King County, the Northwest Railway Museum helps fill this gap.

History of the Building

The Snoqualmie Depot was constructed in 1890 for the Seattle, Lake Shore and Eastern Railway. It later served the Northern Pacific Railway and Burlington Northern Railroad until it was donated to the Northwest Railway Museum in 1977. The museum maintains this property as a heritage railway depot and as the centerpiece of historic downtown Snoqualmie. It is the oldest continuously operated train depot in Washington State.

The structure is built from wood and has many asymmetrical features in the late Queen Anne style. It features two waiting rooms, an agent and ticket office, and a freight room. Notable are the many purely aesthetic features, including the octagonal turret and eyebrow dormers. A distinguishing feature is the elaborate decorative shingle roof with fancy butt, diamond and scallop shingles. The property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the King County Landmarks Register, and the City of Snoqualmie Landmarks Register.

Major rehabilitation and restoration took place between 1979 and 1981, transforming this heritage building to its functional appearance from 1890 to 1901: the first ten years of its life. Work that has taken place since then includes the 1996 replacement of the decorative shingle roof, the 2011 replacement of the public restrooms, and the 2023 replacement of the heating system. Over 25 years later, the unique western red cedar shingle roof is ready for a much-needed replacement. The Snoqualmie Depot is now and will continue to be the centerpiece of historic downtown Snoqualmie and will continue to host heritage railway excursions on the Museum's heritage railway. 

The railroad changed everything in King County. The modern town of Snoqualmie was platted and settled as a direct consequence of the railway, forever altering the Snoqualmie Tribe communities already here. Most other County communities have a similar history. Preservation of the depot allows the Museum to continue presenting the challenges, successes, and realities the railroad brought to the Valley and Washington State. Its role as the anchor attraction in the historic downtown supports more than two dozen small businesses that cater to cultural tourists, including coffee shops, wineries, pubs, restaurants, and curio shops, and contributes to local community identity.

Project Scope

The entire roof of the Depot needs to be replaced. Following the National Parks Service’s Standards for Historic Preservation, we must use western red cedar shingles. The roof will require a large quantity of shingles – more than 150 square – and the regional source for this material is on Vancouver Island. The project requires a highly specialized repair team since it is both historic preservation and a now specialized material (though until the last few decades a commonly used material). After seeking over 20 bids, the NRM was able to secure only three bids as there are so few roofers now with experience replacing this type of roof. The three bids were between $330,000 and nearly half a million dollars.  The proposed project is important to the landmark and the community because it will preserve public access as a third place.


Organization Data

Summary

Organization name

Northwest Railway Museum

Tax id (EIN)

91-6054975

Category

Arts & Culture

Demographics

Youth & Children, Seniors

Address

PO Box 459 9312 Stone Quarry Road
Snoqualmie, WA 98065-0459

Service areas

King County, WA, US

Snohomish County, WA, US

Pierce County, WA, US

Kittitas County, WA, US

Phone

425-888-3030

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