Northwest Railway Museum, Snoqualmie, WA: an odd collection

Northwest Railway Museum, Snoqualmie, WA

Snoqualmie is, just off the I-90, twenty-five miles east of Seattle, WA. It is home to the Northwest Railway Museum founded in 1957 as the Puget Sound Railway Historical Association but, in September 1999, renamed the Northwest Railway Museum.

The museum's collection is housed in the old Snoqualmie Depot. It operates excursions from the depot on weekends during the Spring-Fall season, as well as on other holidays. It also organises "Railroad Days", an annual celebration held in late August of Snoqualmie's history of railroading and logging.

The museum really has a remarkable collection of logging locomotives but, when I visited, most of them were outside, exposed to the wet western Cascades weather. Happily, at the time of posting these photographs in January 2009 plans were already under way to construct a 24,000 sq ft building to house the locomotives and other museum exhibits.

The new train shed was dedicated on 2nd October 2010 and I plan to visit again some time soon.


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The Museum
Northwest Railway Museum, Snoqualmie

The museum is on Railroad Ave. SE, part of Snoqualmie's downtown Historic District.

Northwest Railway Museum, Snoqualmie

The depot building was built by the Seattle, Lake Shore & Eastern Railway in 1887. Chartered in 1885, the SLS&E had a brief life: it was taken over by the Northern Pacific and reorganised as the Seattle & International in 1892. By 1901, it had ceased to exist as a corporate entity.

The depot was abandoned when the Burlington Northern ceased operating on the line in 1975. Restored by the museum in 1981, it is now on the National Register of Historic Places.

NP Snowplow #10
Rotary Snowplow #10, Northwest Railway Museum, SnoqualmieRotary Snowplow #10, Northwest Railway Museum, Snoqualmie

Rotary Snowplow #10 stands beside the depot building.

#10 was built in 1907 by Alco-
Cooke for the Northern Pacific, and was used to clear snow over Stampede Pass in the Cascades. It typically spent summers in Auburn and winters in Lester, up near the pass. The snowplow was donated to the museum in 1968 by Northern Pacific.

Snoqualmie Log Pavilion
Log Pavilion, Snoqualmie

From the 1870s until the 1930s, logging was one of the principle industries on the Cascade Mountains.

The first mill was established in the Snoqualmie area in 1872 at the mouth of Tokul Creek. Five years later, there were twelve logging operations on the Snoqualmie River and, within fifteen years, logging and mill work was employing one hundred and forty men and sending millions of board feet of lumber down the river.

The Snoqualmie Falls Lumber Company (later the Weyerhaeuser Timber Company), which opened in 1917, milled huge stands of fir, spruce, hemlock and cedar from the nearby mountains.

The wheeled carriage above is on display a few hundred yards west of the depot. It was used by the company to push 10-15 foot diameter logs through a massive bandsaw at a mill about a mile north of Snoqualmie.

Eastern Railway & Lumber #1
Eastern Railway & Lumber Company #1, Northwest Railway Museum, SnoqualmieEastern Railway & Lumber Company #1, Northwest Railway Museum, Snoqualmie

The Eastern Railway & Lumber Company 3-truck Shay #1 was built by Lima for the Newhouse Mines and Smelter Company in Utah in 1905. It was sold on a number of times, ending up on the Eastern Railway & Lumber Company (later the S. A. Agnew Lumber Company) in Centralia, WA, where it operated until the railway was abandoned in 1951. It was stored at a sawmill until donated to the museum in 1964. It moved to Snoqualmie in 1969.

Eastern Railway & Lumber Company #1, Northwest Railway Museum, Snoqualmie

Left, the distinguishing characteristic of Shay locomotives is their vertically mounted cylinders, which transfer power through pistons and crank shafts to a horizontal drive shaft on one side of the locomotive. The drive shaft is fitted with bevelled gears to turn the wheels.

You can see other Shays on the Cass Scenic Rail Road page of this website, the B&O Museum Roundhouse and the North Carolina Transportation Museum and pages.

Ohio Match #4
Ohio Match Company #4, Northwest Railway Museum, Snoqualmie

2-truck Heisler #4 was built in 1923 by the Heisler Locomotive Works, Erie, PA, for the Ohio Match Company. It worked on the Burnt Cabin Creek Railroad near Hayden Lake, ID. In 1933, it was sold to the National Pole and Treating Company near Spokane (later merged into the Minnesota & Ontario Paper Co).

#4 is an oil burner weighing 100,000 lbs. It has 15" x 12" cylinders and 36" drivers. At a boiler pressure of 180 psi, it delivered 20,000 lbs tractive effort.

#4 last operated in 1958, when it was sold to Charles Morrow of Snoqualmie. He sold it to the museum in 1967.

Ohio Match Company #4, Northwest Railway Museum, Snoqualmie

Heisler locomotives have 45° side mounted cylinders, which drive a horizontal central axle attached to gear boxes on each wheel set.

Like Shay locomotives, they were very powerful, but Heislers were actually the fastest geared locomotives in operation. Their short but widely spaced wheel sets made them ideal for working on twisting, undulating tracks such as those used by logging concerns.

You can see more Heislers on the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania Train Shed page of this website, the Travel Town page and the Cass Scenic Rail Road page.

Weyerhauser Timber #6
Weyerhaeuser Timber Company #6, Northwest Railway Museum, Snoqualmie

This 2-6-6-2 compound articulated Mallet, was built by Baldwin in 1928 for the Mud Bay Logging Company as #8.

An oil burner, it weighs 210,000 lbs and has 44" drivers. The rear, high pressure cylinders are 18" x 24"; the front, low pressures cylinders are 28" x 24". Operating at a boiler pressure of 200 psi, it delivered 42,500 lbs tractive effort.

#8 was transferred to Weyerhaeuser's Klamath Falls Branch in 1940, where it was renumbered #6. It was gifted to the museum by the Weyerhaeuser Timber Company in 1965 and was last operated by the museum in 1974.

United States Plywood #11
US Plywood Corporation #11, Northwest Railway Museum, SnoqualmieUS Plywood Corporation #11, Northwest Railway Museum, SnoqualmieUS Plywood Corporation #11, Northwest Railway Museum, SnoqualmieUS Plywood Corporation #11, Northwest Railway Museum, SnoqualmieUS Plywood Corporation #11, Northwest Railway Museum, SnoqualmieUS Plywood Corporation #11, Northwest Railway Museum, Snoqualmie

United States Plywood Corporation #11, a 2-6-6-2 compound articulated Mallet, is on display about three-quarters of a mile north of the museum depot building at the junction of Snoqualmie Parkway and Railroad Ave.

Originally built by Baldwin as a side-tank locomotive for the Ostrander Railway & Timber Company in 1926 as #7, it was sold to the Weyerhaeuser Timber Company in 1939, renumbered #5 and operated in and around Klamath Falls, OR. The side tanks were removed in 1940 and a tender added.

#5 was sold to the Kosmos Timber Company in Kosmos, WA, in 1950 and renumbered #11. In 1952, Kosmos changed its name to the United States Plywood Corporation. #11 was retired in 1960 and donated to the University of Washington. It was placed on display at the university's Seattle campus in 1961.

In 1974, #11 passed to Washington State Parks, who leased it to the museum.

Restored to operating condition, the locomotive hauled the Snoqualmie Valley Train from North Bend to Snoqualmie Falls for a number of years and was last operated by the museum in 1990. Work began in 2002 to restore it to its 1956 appearance and it went on display at its current location in February 2005. Plans have since been mooted to restore #11 to operation, but these have so far come to nothing.

It is very similar in design to Weyerhaeuser Timber #6, also owned by the museum but not in such a good condition. An oil burner, #11 is slightly heavier at 213,000 lbs, but also has 44" drivers, 18" x 24" rear, high pressure cylinders and
28" x 24" front, low pressures cylinders. It also operated at a boiler pressure of 200 psi, delivering 42,500 lbs tractive effort.