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Moving the 125.

Northern Pacific Railway locomotive 125 is now part of the Northwest Railway Museum collection in Snoqualmie, WA.  It moved here last November as part of a much larger project.  Now, it is being restored to its appearance when it arrived in Seattle in February 1940 and you can help make it happen.   

Why is this important?  In the Washington State of January, 1940, steam was everywhere.  Aside from two electrified segments, nearly every train in the State was pulled by a steam locomotive.  So imagine the excitement in February when a new kind of locomotive arrived from the American Locomotive Company (“ALCO”).   

This brand new locomotive could operate for days or weeks without any major maintenance, and could power through an entire shift without needing additional fuel or water.  Few knew it then, but in about 15 years, nearly all the steam locomotives would be retired from Northern Pacific, and by 1958 the last one would go cold, and it began with the 125.

Historians, fans or just people who like steam locomotives may lament the end of the steam era, but it was an incredibly transformational time in America. The transition from steam to diesel resulted in significant impacts on railroad labor and the communities they populated, but these changes also helped the railroads become more economically viable because they could perform more work with fewer people.  

The 125 in 1940.

What is the locomotive?  The locomotive is a model HH660 built by ALCO in Schenectady, New York. It has 660 horsepower, is powered with a McIntosh & Seymour 538 diesel engine, is about 40 feet long and weighs more than 200,000 pounds.  

The unit is technically a diesel-electric locomotive wherein a diesel engine turns an electric generator.  The electricity is used to turn electric motors mounted on each axle.  An air compressor is also powered by the diesel, and is used to provide air for the brakes.

What is the project?
  The objective of this project is to restore the locomotive 125 to its appearance in February 1940 when it was delivered to the Seattle waterfront and began switching the docks along Alaskan Way.  

Restoration work will include air brake repairs, restoration of the reflector headlights, relocation of the bell to the front hood, repairs to the radiators, minor car body repairs, floor repairs in the cab, several window replacements, and application the original color and lettering as it would have appeared in February 1940.  

Turning the wheels.

Moving the locomotive to Snoqualmie and turning the wheels have already required an investment of more than $100,000.

How can I help?  Please help us ensure the preservation of this icon of change, this first-of-a-kind, and remarkable machine that actually remained in daily service until 2003, more than 63 years!, Thanks to a generous matching grant of $5,000 awarded from the Northern Pacific Railway Historical Association, work has already begun on returning this artifact to its former glory, but at least $15,000 must be secured to complete the project.  

Please help close the gap with this year’s Give BIG, May 3 & 4! Just add “125” in the dedication box to ensure we credit your contribution to the 125, and as a matching donation to fully release the matching gift.

NPR 125 arrives on Snoqualmie, November 6, 2021