NEWS - PAST AND PRESENT
Museum Program at the Wade King School
Mike Pagano along with his daughter Tia and Helmer Sieber did presentations for three First grade classes at the Wade King School. They did a presentation about the history of train transportation, showed examples of different types of rail cars and ran Mike's N scale layout.
Museum attends train shows in Seattle and Monroe
On January 15-17 the Museum exhibited at the 37th Annual Model Railroad show at the Pacific Science Center in Seattle. Our members were kept busy introducing the Bellingham Railway Museum to large crowds.
On February 5-6 the Museum exhibited at the Train Show in Monroe at the Fairgrounds. This was more of a local show and several potential members, volunteers and future speakers were lined up for the Museum. Both events helped give the Museum wide exposure.
Museum display at train show in Monroe
Member book purchase special
For the months of April, May and June members can purchase the book, The Northern Pacific Railway of McGee and Nixon at the museum store for the special, members only price of just $20. Tell your friends that they can buy a membership and just about pay for it with the money they will save on this great book.
Northern Pacific Railway of McGee and Nixon
Large magnificent views from the past – Northern Pacific in the glorious steam years and the diesel transition to modern diesels that are now known as historic first generation internal combustion machines. 290 pages with more than 300 photos 11×8.5”, hardbound ISBN 0-915370-l0-4 #510-9 NORTHERN PACIFIC Ry. $49.95
Wellington disaster talk given at museum
Martin Burwash, author of “Vis Major, railroad men and an act of God, white death at Wellington” gave an excellent talk at the Museum on the Great Northern Wellington avalanche on Steven’s Pass in 1910. He had researched the story from the standpoint of the railroad employees. Having read everything he could find about each individual including their testimony at the inquest, he wrote a very interesting, mostly historic but using some conjecture, account as to how each man would have behaved based on their personalities and how they understood their jobs following standard railroad practices as they were trained to do. The result is a great read with many insights into the men, the railroad and the times. Autographed copies of this great book are now available for purchase at the museum store.
Flat Car to Gang Car Conversion April 15, 2011
By Jim Appleby, Restoration & Maintenance Coordinator
The new full sized gang passenger car is ready for operation. Jim Appleby with some help from BK Blackketter has converted a rusted speeder trailer into a beautiful new open passenger car. Here is Jim’s report.
My participation in this project started when I accepted the task of converting an old rusty railroad work crew flat car into a gang car upon which passengers can ride. Motive power is to be provided by the Museum’s Fairmont MT-19 speeder.
The first operation was to remove the old planks and have the frame sandblasted and primed. Next was the installation of a braking system. The main difficulty here was not the design, but the fact that the old flatcar was a one-of-a-kind and the only commercially available components were brake shoes. Hence the remainder of the parts making up the braking system had to be individually designed, fabricated, and installed. The brake system after installation looks simple enough but is comprised of about 130 individual pieces, requiring 130 cuts, 110 welds, 120 drilled holes, and 30 heated bends.
The other components requiring fabrication were end rails made from steel tubing, a steel framework to support planks for seating, supports for the floor planks on either side, and a drawbar to connect the new gang car to the towing Fairmont speeder.
Jim Appleby, upper left and crew testing new gang passenger car
New Officers to lead the museum
As we enter a new year with the Bellingham Railway Museum, a new slate of officers will be leading the way. Our new president is Karl Kleeman who was instrumental in getting the museum started in 2003. He was absent for a few years but returned to the Board this past year and brought with him new energy and drive.
Karl Kleeman (foreground) receives congratulations from outgoing president Dwayne Rogge
Helmer Sieber was elected to the office of Vice President last year and will continue to support the Museum in that office. Our new Treasurer is Rich Clearman. Rich has done a wonderful job as our volunteer accountant since 2009. Rich has been working on new accounting practices and helping install the new museum computer system.
Christine Grontkowski will continue as our Corporate Secretary.
The remainder of the Board includes Bill Rink (Marketing), Rique Prince (Member Services), Fred Dodds (Co-Director), and Mike Lower (Co-director).
Rique Prince elected to museum Board of Directors
Rique Prince was recently elected to the museum board. Rique, with help from his wife Nona, will be coordinating our membership programs and contact lists. Rique worked 23 years for a company in Southern California, ending up as director of customer service. He moved to the Bellingham area in1978 working as customer service and plant manager for local firms. From 1988/98 Rique worked at The Lynden Pioneer Museum, the last eight years as museum director. Rique retired in 1998. Rique has a life long love of cars and trains as well as model trains and a collection of railroad lanterns and memorabilia.
New Museum acquisition brings with it an interesting history
While at the train show in Lynden, Mike Lower, our museum co-director spotted a sign at one of the booths advertising a Fairmont M19 speeder rail car for sale. We are very happy to share the history about our newly acquired, M19.
This acquisition is especially interesting because of its history. This rail car came from the Los Angeles & Salt Lake Railroad. The first track for what was to become the LA & SL was laid in 1871 by the Utah Southern Railroad running southward from Salt Lake City. Little by little the track was extended until the pieces were put together and the railroad was finally incorporated in Utah in 1901 as the San Pedro, Los Angeles & Salt Lake Railroad. The rail from Salt Lake City all the way to Los Angeles was completed in 1905 and the company was absorbed as a UP subsidiary. In 1916, the stockholders voted to remove the San Pedro from the name and the LA & SL continued to exist on paper until 1988. This line remains as an integral part of the UP network today.
LA & SL Railroad Fairmont M19 built in 1951 now part of the BRM collection
Museum wins first place for static display at the Lynden train show…
The Museum set up a display at the Lynden Lions Club 26th Annual International Model Railroad show the weekend of 10/3-4 with museum model trains, our CN speeder, our computer train simulator and promotional items. We talked to lots of people and collected email addresses from those interested in learning more about the museum. We had a lot of our volunteers helping and everyone had a great time. And, in the end, we won a first place for our display, a good weekend for all involved.
Mike Lower, Museum Co-director accepts first place award at the Lynden Train Show.
Work team builds new speeder “gang car” …
Museum volunteers lead by Jim Appleby are using a flat bed work car donated to the museum by Mrs. Rose Burton from Orcas Island to build a passenger “gang car” based on cars used to carry track workers and supplies to track sections that needed work. We plan to pull this rebuilt car behind our CN speeder giving train rides on the 0.7 miles of track between Meridian and James Streets in Bellingham we are refurbishing. After removing the decaying deck, we have a rusty frame with 4 rusty flanged wheels. The car is 13 ft long and when finished will accommodate a number of passengers. Jim is fabricating brakes for the “gang car” for safety purposes as with its load of people, it will weigh more that the CN speeder pulling it. After the brake system is installed, volunteers will re-deck the car and add bench seats. It should be completed by the holidays, perhaps in time for a special holiday run.
Donated rusty speeder flatcar on new museum trailer to be converted to “gang
car”. Jim reported, “on one axle there's a Fairmont wheel and one that doesn't
have a name on it that fits a Fairmont hub. The other axle has a Kalamazoo
wheel on one side and a Buda wheel on the other.”
The new museum passenger car will be designed based on the pictured “gang” car. Museum CN speeder work completed…
Work has been completed on the CN speeder. This speeder was originally purchased and operated by the Canadian National Railroad. Although the basic frame was provided by Fairmont, this speeder has a larger more powerful Onan engine. Most of the Fairmont speeders have belt drives but this speeder has a transmission and chain drive. The classic Fairmont speeders like our new LA & SL Railroad speeder have engines that can run in either direction. To go into reverse you need to stop the engine and then crank start it in the opposite direction. Our CN speeder actually has forward and reverse and even high and low range gears. So, the CN speeder has had full maintenance work and a number of broken parts replaced. Dwayne Rogge is now doing some minor fiberglass repair on the speeder and soon it will be fully ready for operation.
Jim Appleby and Karl Kleeman show off the newly overhauled CN speeder.
Future Museum Site Research Committee Issues Report
On August 4, 2010 the Site Research Committee issued a 31-page report to the Board of Directors outlining seven options that the Board might consider for a future site for the museum. These included:
1. Squalicum Creek right of way with existing track – owned by BNSF
2. Hampton Wye/Everson site – mostly owned by BNSF
3. Marine Drive buildings on 1.5 acres – owned by church
4. Cement Plant site – owned and operated by Lehigh Cement Co.
5. Alternative Purchased Sites – several possibilities
6. Site that might be donated – none located as yet
7. Search for site that can be rented – many possibilities on market
The Board approved seeking an agreement with the City of Bellingham to use the Squalicum Creek right of way with existing track. President Dwayne Rogge will be approaching the city with our proposal. If this is not accepted, the Board will consider the other alternatives suggested by the committee.
Board passes resolution advocating light rail system for Whatcom County
Bellingham did it in 1880; we can do it in 2011. The Museum has gone on record passing a resolution to save the BB&BC right of way and bring light rail to the county. At the August 4 Board meeting, the museum passed a resolution that advocates that Whatcom County seek grants to build a demonstration light rail system using the right of way of the first railroad in our county, the Bellingham Bay & British Columbia Railroad. This light rail system would run from Bellingham starting at the old GN train station to Everson to Lynden to Sumas and return. Many large cities are adding light rail, now it is time to demonstrate the potential to unite smaller towns in rural communities. Further, it is the intention of the BRM to relocate its facilities somewhere along this proposed route to share our rail history and support the future of efficient, clean rail transpiration”
The “Orchard Subdivision” track project, restoration of historic rail
In August 1908, the BB&BC Railroad realized it needed to be able to service the growing industries along the Bellingham waterfront. The city council was asked to grant a franchise to build a line from the BB&BC Sehome wharf along the waterfront parallel to the Great Northern tracks to Squalicum Creek, then up the creek valley to a junction with the BB&BC mainline at the foot of Squalicum Hill. This was bitterly opposed by the Great Northern but the city council sided with the local group and on May 3, 1909, the Terminal & Railway Company was incorporated and construction began. The line was completed in June 1910 and immediately the BB&BC took it over under a lease arrangement. Later it became part of the mainline to Sumas when the trackage over Squalicum Hill was abandoned.
We are very excited to announce a new cooperative project with Bellingham Cold Storage to restore about .7 mile of this historic track that they own from Orchard Place to James Street.
Museum volunteers have been busy removing dirt, weeds and rock along this stretch of track to enable us to actually run our “speeder” which is an old Canadian National gas powered maintenance of way work car. We are also working on modifying a small work trailer to be pulled behind the speeder for “passengers”.
We are just about ready to take members and volunteers on rides. If this is of interest to you, join us for some track maintenance work and for rides. Just send in the membership form on the back of this newsletter to get on our email list to get the latest information or call the museum at 393-7540 for the current schedules.
We hope someday before too long to be able to open rides to the general public. Now this is fun for children of all ages. Join the fun and learn about track maintenance and work vehicles. Fill in your membership form today!
New Fund Raising Campaign began July 1
If we are to grow and offer more displays and more activities we will need to develop ongoing sources of funding. To jump-start our fund raising, one of our Board Members has offered to match every dollar raised between now and December 31, dollar for dollar up to $10,000. For those who can help, this is an opportunity to see your donation doubled. We invite all of you and anyone you might know who would like to help the museum to make that donation now. All donations are tax deductible. If you would like to make a donation drop off or mail a check to the museum. Make the check out to the BRM or call (393-7540) and give us your credit card information. This is a great opportunity to help “your” museum grow with new exhibits and enhanced activities. Thanks for your help.
This is a great time to upgrade your membership. Upgrades from standard individual or family memberships to the Engineer or Tycoon level will be considered as a donation the will be matched dollar for dollar. Thanks for your support.
New site investigation committee begins work
We are six months into our new two-year lease with the city and the Board has set up a new committee to look into possible future locations for the museum.
The committee is looking at a number of possible sites, some with a potential for our own tracks where we can run real train rides, some with space to put historic locomotives and cars on display and all with increased space for exhibits and educational activities.
The committee will be conducting site visits during July gathering information and looking at potential funding sources. If any of you know of any potential future sites for the museum or would like to help the committee, please contact Karl Kleeman, at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 656-5451. We welcome suggestions and ideas.
Spring Parades give the museum a countywide exposure
This past spring brought out museum volunteers to participate in parades. We have been highlighting our CN work car. This was purchased by the museum together with a trailer and we have been able to pull it in several parades in the county. We hope to attract recognition and support throughout the county. We have participated in the Ski to Sea parades, the Lynden Heritage Day parade and the Sumas community days parade. Join the museum and join the fun.
Western Washington University intern doing oral histories
We are pleased to announce that Brian Ely is working with us this summer as an Intern from Professors Chris Friday's Public History Class at WWU. Brian will be developing, conducting and writing up Oral Histories of former railroad employees from the Whatcom County area. He will be working with Museum Members Al Currier and Helmer Sieber. Al is a published local rail historian and photographer as well as past president of the Whatcom County Historical Society. Helmer is a former professional videographer, a current Museum Board Member, and will serve as Museum Coordinator for the Oral Histories. This is a vital step in preserving Whatcom County's railroad heritage before it completely fades from memory.
Museum building a “train” to give rides
Jim Appleby and helpers are restoring the museum work car gas powered speeder to operation. They are also building a “passenger car” from a small rusted rail flat bed trailer to pull behind the speeder. We plan by the fall color season to be able to give members rides on the new museum “train”.