A lot has happened at the Northwest Railway Museum over the last year! The last week in April 2023 saw the arrival of Great Northern Steam Locomotive 1246 to the Northwest Railway Museum! See the "GN Loco 1246 tab for more information and how to learn more about this year's Give Big project!
Great Northern Locomotive 1246 was built in 1907 by the Baldwin Locomotive Works and operated by the Great Northern Railway until 1953. It was retired in 1953 and donated to the City of Seattle for display at the Woodland Park Zoo. From July 1953 until June 1980, this locomotive sat at the South Entrance of the Zoo entertaining generations of children. In 1980, City of Seattle was unable to budget required funds to restore it and ultimately auctioned off it off to a private collector. The private collector passed away in 2021 and his collection was acquired by the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad ("OCSR") at Tillamook, Oregon. The Northwest Railway Museum and the OCSR are both 501(c)3 tax exempt organizations and have agreed to exchange locomotives to better reflect the needs of our respective missions. The locomotive is in several parts and each will be moved via crane and truck to the Museum where they will be assessed to determine the next steps.
Note: Please click on the "locomotive 1246" tab to learn about this year's Give Big project!
This year the Museum acquired the last remaining Amtrak Cascades Talgo Series VI Bistro Car, is restoring NP Parlor Car 1799, is operating year round, & has regular Toddler Train Story Time. Check out TrainMuseum.org for more info.
The what and where
The Museum is located in East King County and in this region is the only organization of its type: a living history railway museum. The Museum owns and operates a heritage railway that extends from North Bend to Snoqualmie Falls, and to the historic Snoqualmie Depot, the oldest operating train station in Washington. Century-old trains thrill visitors from near and far, and allow them to experience a sense of time travel back to the golden age of rail travel.
More than 130,000 guests visit the Museum every year. It is staffed by a team of 9 FTE professionals and more than 135 volunteers. Nine trustees provide governance, and local, regional, and state government together with hundreds of individuals and foundations contribute the support necessary to operate the Museum.
For the last 15 years, the Museum has been developing the railway history campus in Snoqualmie. More than 38,000 sq ft is dedicated to collection care and storage, and public exhibit space, which is used to tell the story of how the railway changed everything. Representative exhibits help visitors see and understand the role of railways in the settlement and development of the region. Examples include,
- Chapel car Messenger of Peace, a mobile church constructed in 1898 that traveled across the country promoting the American Baptist way. It was a featured exhibit at the 1904 St Louis World's Fair, and worked for a time promoting the Railroad YMCA. It was part of a movement in the late 19th Century to bring religion to the west, and they did it predominantly with railway chapel cars. This National Register listed property is completely restored to its appearance when it traveled on the Museum's railway to North Bend (WA) in 1917 to conduct a revival at what is today the North Bend Community Church.
- Steam locomotive 924 is an 0-6-0 that worked along the Seattle waterfront for more than 20 years. This King County and City of Snoqualmie Landmark also assembled trains at the King Street Station. It is more than 120 years old and is able to steam again after a major collections care effort that took five years to complete. Built by Rogers in 1899, this switch engine is typical of the locomotives used in the period to build trains in rail yards, and spot cars at industry or shipping terminals. The 924 operates between North Bend and Snoqualmie Falls on select weekends.
- Caboose 001 was built at Enumclaw in 1945 to protect the end of log trains that traveled from as far as the boundary for Mt Rainier National Park. It represents some of the more utilitarian aspects of the railroad, and helps illustrate the difficult working conditions. It was built by the lumbermen and loggers of the White River Lumber Company and is a testament to their ingenuity and adaptability.
To develop and operate an outstanding railway museum that provides the public a place to experience the excitement of a working railway, and to see and understand the significance of railways in the development and settlement of Washington and adjacent areas.
The Northwest Railway Museum is grateful to more than 250 individuals, the City of Snoqualmie, King County 4Culture, Cares Act and the America Rescue Plan that have already made contributions in support of the Museum's continued operation.
All funds received on May 2 & 3 will support the locomotive 1246 project.