Friday, May 31, 2019


I'm back home. Along the way, the skies were clear, so I could get a somewhat clear shot of Portland, OR.

Thursday, May 30, 2019


I headed back to Snoqualmie for dinner at the Copperstone Family Spaghetti Restaurant, enjoyed excellent Tortellini with Bacon and Garlic, and a tasty Tiramisu for dessert. On my way back to Kirkland I got off-track a little bit and hit the lake a bit too far north at Juanita Bay. No problem.

It was such a nice evening that I hung out at the park for a while and finished the day on the hotel patio.

Northwest Railway Museum: Outside artifacts

Along the road between Snoqualmie and Snoqualmie Falls is an outside storage area where the Northwest Railway Museum keeps more artifacts that are slowly rotting away. This 2-6-6-2 was built 1928 by Baldwin and was donated to the museum in 1965. This engine pulled trains for the museum.

The steam crane is almost begging for backlit photos with the hook, so here you go.

This automobile box car was built for the Great Northern in 1929. The side-doors are extra-wide and the dreadnaught full steel-end doors at the A end can be opened for automobile loading, too. There existed similarly equipped box cars in Germany at roughly the same time.

This 10,000 gallon riveted tank car was built in 1929 and in revenue service until 1972. Later it was used by the museum to haul waste oil for the steam locomotives from Seattle and finally retired in 1989, when rail service to Snoqualmie ended.

Snoqualmie Falls Hydropower Museum

Generator 5 was installed in the underground cavity of plant 1 at Snoqualmie Falls in 1905. It has a generation capacity of 5600 kilowatts. It uses a Francis turbine, which is more efficient than the Pelton wheels used in the other 4 generators installed at plant 1.

The water enters the turbine from the sides and then falls straight down from the center of the turbine into a draft tube.

The energy of the flowing water is transferred to the shaft of the turbine in form of torque. The shaft is connected to the generator, visible in the rear in the photo at the top of this post.

In 2011 the plant was modernized and generator 5 was moved from plant 1 to the hydropower museum.


The shops building was moved here from its original site and has various artifacts and equipment that was removed from the plant's underground cavity and control room.

Control panel.

Knife switches.

Snoqualmie Depot

The Snoqualmie Depot is the oldest continuously operated train station in Washington State, because the offices of the Northwest Railway Museum moved into the depot before the last BNSF offices moved out in 1975. Several artifacts are presented around the depot.

The restored freight room hosts the Museum Book Store with more exhibits.

The item that excited me the most here is the interlocking machine that used to be located at Black River Junction where the Northern Pacific Railroad, the Chicago, Milwaukee, & Pudget Sound Railroad, and the Pacific Coast Railroad meet, ten miles south of Seattle Union Station.

This must have been a quite busy junction. The tables in the lower half show the possible routes and which levers need to be set to reverse (i.e. not normal) for that route in which sequence, so that turnouts and signals are set correctly. The various pictograms on the board are interesting, too. Even the tower location is marked.

Outside the depot ALCO RSD-4 and several cars were moved around by a switcher. Of the many photos I took of #201 in varying settings, I like this shot in the bright sun in the park behind the depot the most.

Crossing Gate Trouble in Snoqualmie

When I drove through Snoqualmie to the Northwest Railroad Museum train shed, the museum switcher was busy moving cars near the depot. When I came back there was quite a commotion and the switcher was stopped on a side track.

A car had run into the crossing gate and broke the shear bolts holding the crossing gate to the crossing arm with the counter weights. When I got here, help had just arrived and they opened the crossing gate control box. Ooooh! What an opportunity!

Of course I walked over, chatted a bit with the conductor, and took photos. Here's the inside of the crossing gate control box.

They unscrewed a contact in the box which caused the machinery to lower the crossing arm.

The crew moved the crossing gate back into its normal position and installed new shear bolts. These bolts are design to break and allow the crossing gate to swing out of the way when something (*cough* a car *cough*) hits the gate with sufficient force, instead of braking off completely.

The fix is relatively easy: Align the crossing gate to where it belongs, install new shear bolts (the copper bolts in the picture), and that's it.

While they installed the new bolts, a crew member holds the crossing gate in the right position.

All done.

Testing the sensors and proper gate operation.

All good. Let's continue with the switching chores.

Northwest Railway Museum

The Northwest Railway Museum has a modern shed just East of downtown Snoqualmie with a small but relevant collection of artifacts and rolling stock from the days when the Great Northern, Northern Pacific, and logging companies dominated the area.

This Fairbanks Moose H12-44 switcher (Engine #1) is nicely restored.

It's primary duty was to haul lumber from the White River Mill to the Northern Pacific Railway at Enumclaw, WA.

The caboose usually used with #1 is also in the collection of the museum and restored on the outside.

Not all rolling stock is this nicely restored. However, with the large train shed building, they are at least not rotting away exposed to the elements.

I liked this NP reefer, and especially the description how oranges from California were prepared for their travels north and packed in refrigerated cars.

There's more information about the museum and he exhibits at

If Snoqualmie Falls were a Model Train Layout ...

"Completely unrealistic!"
If the Snoqualmie Falls area in Washington State near Seattle were a model train layout, the builder would likely get a bunch of compliments for a work well done.  However, many serious modelers would also comment on the use of common compression techniques to fit the scene in the available space.

There's a big river with tracks right next to it. As we approach the forest, there are a couple of section houses above the rail line. Then we have of course the huge waterfall and associated canyon, yielding a dramatic cliff scene.

On top of this cliff is more forest and the rail line navigates around the top of the cliff through the trees in a very tight curve over a couple concrete bridges.

The river continues from the bottom of the waterfall with water moving quickly over a rock-cluttered river bed.

To top it all off, as the tracks continue towards Seattle they cross a forested valley high above the tree tops on a high wood-timbered trestle.

Here's the area on Google Maps:

This used to be the original alignment of the Seattle, Lake Shore, & Eastern Railway, whose remnants at the other end I explored in Seattle before. Today the tracks are used by the Northwest Railway Museum for excursion trains between Snoqualmie and North Bend.

BNSF trains use the former Great Northern alignment on their way to the Cascade Tunnel under Stevens Pass to the north, and the former Northern Pacific alignment and tunnel at Stampede Pass to the south.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Snoqualmie Falls over the day

Snoqualmie Falls is an amazing place. Due to the hydro power station built here in 1898/1899 the area around the falls is well developed and easy to get to. What really struck me was how the mood of the falls changes over the course of the day. The panorama above was taken in sunshine in late afternoon while the rather misty photo below was taken at shortly after 7am in the morning.

The hike to the bottom of the falls is short, but steep. Again, a very different mood being in the canyon vs. being on the rim.

The trails are boardwalks, paved, or gravel and well-maintained. North-West feeling.

The evening view from the hotel terrace is very pretty, too. The small waterfall on the right is spillover from the water basin at the hydro power station gate house, but it fits well into the scene.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

At Snoqualmie Falls

Forced perspective is fun... and this is one massive waterfall.

Fall City

What an idyllic place on the side of Highway 202 in Fall City, WA.
What the photo doesn't show is the parking lot and restaurants just outside the frame to the right. When I spotted this view from the road, I had to stop in said parking lot and take a picture.