Railway History Center Campus- Railway Education Center


Project Description

The Railway Education Center (“REC”) will be a new facility that will provide critical needs for the visiting public, and for the Museum’s collections.  The Railway Education Center will be located directly adjacent to the Train Shed exhibit building.  Incorporating almost 5,000 square feet, this new structure is designed to improve preservation and access by addressing the remaining critical needs identified in the Museum’s long term plan.  It will allow public programs to expand in frequency and duration because it will provide the public restrooms and staff support required for expanded access.

The REC is a Miller|Hull Partnership designed facility that will provide basic visitor services including admissions and public restrooms – these will be the only such facilities on the entire campus.  It will include a large classroom for school and other groups.  A collection lab will be used to conserve and catalog small objects and paper-based materials.  An archival vault will provide a tightly controlled environment for the most vulnerable and sensitive paper-based and small objects.  And a reading room will facilitate public access to the library and archives collection.  A parking lot will allow public access when trains are not running.  Paved pathways will provide barrier free access between buildings, parking areas, and train boarding platforms.  An elevator will assure access to all patrons.  Offices will allow program staff to be located where the programs are delivered. 

For the public, the public restrooms will be the most impactful feature.  13 toilets will ensure almost no one ever has to wait, and the tile backsplashes and high tech coatings on the stall doors will ensure they are easy to clean and maintain. 

For the collection, the archival vault will be the most impressive feature.  It will have an independent air handling system to maintain the temperature and humidity within tightly controlled parameters that maximize preservation.  Typically, the temperature will be maintained at about 60 degrees Fahrenheit, and the relative humidity will be maintained between 35% and 40%, which will provide the best combination of conditions for the many different types of materials to be stored in the vault.  A gaseous (no water) fire suppression system will ensure that in the unlikely event of a fire, there will be no water damage to the contents of the vault.  Furthermore, there will be no water pipes in or above the vault to break during a seismic event or 100 year storm.

Funding the Railway Education Center

The Railway Education Center is an ambitious project similar in scope and size to the construction of the exhibit building (Train Shed - 2011) and the collection care shop (Conservation and Restoration Center – 2007).  Click here to make an online donation.

Generous funding has been awarded by the Washington State Historical Society’s Heritage Capital Fund, Building 4Culture, 4Culture Heritage Facilities, and the Schwab Fund for Charitable Giving.  Support has also been received from the BNSF Foundation, PSE Foundation, Benevity, Osberg Foundation, Seattle Foundation, and The Boeing Company.  Hundreds of individuals have made contributions ranging from $25 to more than $25,000 bringing total support to more than $1.6 million.

Contributions in any amount are acknowledged and will be memorialized on a donor board in the foyer of the REC.  Please consider a contribution today!  You can use our online tool and a credit card here.


Railway Education Center 2nd floor plan view


Railway Education Center ground floor plan view





Railway Education Center by the numbers

Check out our new Railway Education Center by the numbers:

· Construction began in March 2016
· Completion scheduled for October 2016 with occupancy early in 2017
· Projected construction cost of $2.6 million
· Design, permit and project administration cost of $450,000
· Two stories incorporate 4,990 square feet
· Designed to survive a magnitude 7.2 earthquake
· 660 square feet are dedicated to a classroom
· There will be a total of 13 toilets or urinals in spacious public restrooms so almost no one ever has to wait  
· One elevator will assure accessibility to the second floor archival vault and reading room
· Five offices will allow program staff now working in the Snoqualmie Depot to relocate to the campus
· When fully staffed, the REC will facilitate public access for as much as 250 days of the year
· 740 square feet is assigned for a temperature and humidity controlled archival vault to preserve and store small objects and paper-based materials

The Site

The Museum’s new campus in Snoqualmie is called the Railway History Center.  It was created by a property exchange and boundary line adjustment with the City of Snoqualmie, City of North Bend, King County and Meadowbrook Farm.  It is contiguous with the Museum’s railway right of way and is a campus encompassing approximately 4 acres.  It is located approximately 1.5 miles east of the Snoqualmie Depot and is adjacent to Meadowbrook Farm.  Access is from Stone Quarry Road; it is a regular stop on the Museum’s Snoqualmie Valley Railroad.

A master site plan was developed by Outdoor Studio, Miller|Hull Partnership and KPFF Consulting Engineers and has been the subject of approximately ten years of development effort.  The first building developed on site was the Conservation and Restoration Center, a collection care workshop designed to support work on locomotives, passenger and freight cars, and other large mobile resources.  The second building was an exhibit building.  Incorporating more than 24,000 square feet the Train Shed houses the Museum’s most vulnerable and representative objects.  Now, the third phase, the Railway Education Center will be added to the site too.

Railway Education Center construction


A concrete pumper delivers concrete into the spread footing forms.

Storm water is always a concern in Western Washington.  With annual rainfall of up to 100 inches, approved plans demonstrate how the water off the roof will be infiltrated into the adjoining landscape without generating any runoff.


In March 2016 the construction of the Railway Education Center began with clearing the site.

GeoPiers were selected to stabilize the soils.  Columns of compacted rock were driven more than 25 feet into the soils in what will become the building foundation.

Under the watchful eye of coach 218 (Barney and Smith 1912) the concrete subcontractor builds the forms and rebar cages for the spread footings that will support the new Railway Education Center.

Another rebar/spread foot view.

The stem wall form work takes shape.  The stem walls elevate the Railway Education Center above the 100 year flood plain.

Completed stem walls.

The area contained within the stem walls is filled with select compacted soils.  The utilities such as water, sewer and electric will be laid on this surface.


Lots of reinforcing bar is hidden in floor and foundation. The Northwest Railway Museum is in a seismic zone and commercial buildings like this must be designed to ensure a minimum magnitude 7.2 earthquake without collapsing. Substantial grade beams, the Geo Pier foundation, the stem walls, and other features work together to achieve this design requirement. The concrete pumper allowed the crew to direct concrete around the utility pipes in an efficient manner.

Hand trowels helped smooth the surface. Later, power trowels will smooth the surface of the floor. 

The complete foundation and first floor is ready for the framing crew!

Framing begins.

A new classroom begins.

The walls begin to take shape.

It starts to look like a building.

Construction takes lots of planning to come off smoothly.

The elevator shaft takes shape.

The ridge board is placed.


A roof comes next...

Hutt Construction workers assemble the roof joist system in sub-assemblies that will be "flown" into place with a crane.

The new roof sub-boards in place.

Roof panel installation begins.

Siding installation begins.

Museum Hours

Depot Hours: 10am - 5pm, 7 days a week

Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year's Day. There is limited access during Day Out With Thomas and Santa Train events.

Price: No admission charge to visit the depot and grounds.

Riding the Train: The train runs Saturdays and Sundays, April through the end of October.