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Northern Pacific Railway Museum, Toppenish, Washington ~ June 19th, 2011

by Elizabeth Guenzler

Between riding the Yakima Valley Trolley and photographing Track 29, a side trip to the Northern Pacific Railway Museum in Toppenuish was made with Chris Guenzler. I had not visited this area before so was looking forward to learning more about the Northern Pacific Railway.

The 1927 Northern Pacific station in Wapato, Washington which was founded as Simcoe in 1885 but changed to Wapato in 1903 to eliminate U.S. Postal Service confusion with Fort Simcoe.

The 1911 Northern Pacific station in Toppenish.

The theme of the Northern Pacific Railway Museum.

Railways in Washington State.

Two Northern Pacific signs inside the museum in the station.

Lantern and sign display.

Northern Pacific Transport and semaphore signal display.

Northern Pacific Railway Depot's 100 Year Anniversary.

Views inside the museum.

Northern Pacific Railway's famous passenger train was the North Coast Limited. Part of the museum is dedicated to this.

The North Coast Limited's famous menu item was the Great Big Baked Potato. Hazen Titus, who was made head of Northern Pacific's dining car department in 1908 and shortly after obtaining this position, he was on board the North Coast Limited when he overhead two Washington state farmers lament the fact that the potatoes they grew were so big there was no market for them, as people thought they were too big to serve. Mr. Titus soon ordered all they could grow. He also featured Big Baked Apples, individually-sized lemon pies and other specialties in NP dining cars. But the Great Big Baked Potato was the real hit, leading NP to, among other things, mount a 40-foot-long, three-dimensional Great Big Baked Potato on the roof of its commissary in Seattle. Electric lights caused the butter to glow and the potatoes eyes to wink.

It was then time to explore the outside displays, starting with Northern Pacific 4-6-2 2152 built 1909. Retired in 1958, it was donated to the City of Auburn, Washington and placed on display in a park. Outside conditions caused it to deteriorate and the museum acquired it in 2006.

Information about the tender of NP 4-6-2 2152.

Northern Pacific wooden boxcar 20484 built in 1932 and purchased from the Lewis and Clark Railroad in 1999.

Toppenish, Simcoe and Western dining car 453.

Utica and Mohawk Valley Chapter NRHS baggage car 1509.

Toppenish, Simcoe and Western spreader 972602 (ex. BN 972602, nee NP 642). It was used on Stampede Pass for snow removal until 1985. It sat unused on a spur track in Yakima and the museum purchased it from BN in 1996.

Northern Pacific gondola car 50409 built 1940 and on long-term lease from the Minnesota Transportation Museum since 2001.

Northern Pacific coach 588.

Northern Pacific 44 tonner 12 (ex. Puget Sound Naval Shipyard 65 tonner 12).

The monad logo on the switcher.

Toppenish, Simcoe and Western caboose 12001 (nee Northern Pacific).

Burlington Northern caboose 12220.

Northern Pacific wooden caboose 1065 built in 1908, renumbered NP 1238. Donated by Nalley's Fine Foods in 1998.

Steam tractor.

Various railway signals on display outside.

Northern Pacific telephone box and a signal on the far end of the station.

Northern Pacific freight house, built 1929, opposite the museum. We said our goodbyes to Chris and would meet up with him again on Tuesday.

I had enjoyed my visit to the Northern Pacific Railway Museum but the next visit would not be until 2019. Much progress had occurred, new acquisitions were on site and Northern Pacific 1364 was well underway to restoration. But that is for another travelogue.