Attractions

Northern Pacific 1070

Northern Pacific 1070 was a familiar sight around Washington State.  Purchased new in 1907 as one of a class of 96 switch engines, it began its life on the Northern Pacific in Spokane.  It ended its career with the Northern Pacific in 1958 at McCleary as the last steam locomotive retired from active service by the NP.  The Lake Whatcom Railway preserved it, cared for it, and operated it until it had the unique distinction of operating in every decade of the twentieth century.

Blue Canyon Picnic Area

The community of Blue Canyon was the site of an early coal mine operation.  Rail cars were loaded at Blue Canyon and barged to Bellingham.  Some of the coal from the Blue Canyon Mine went to fuel the United States Navy fleet in Bellingham Bay.  The Lake Whatcom Railway maintains a picnic area for its passengers to enjoy at this lakefront town.

Northern Pacific Terminal 30

One of the earliest successful diesel electric locomotives invented, Northern Pacific Terminal 30 was the tenth S1 model of the American Locomotive Company ever built, out of hundreds to come later.  The locomotive could be seen switching passenger trains in and out of Portland Union Station including the North Coast Limited, the Empire Builder, the Western Star, the Mainstreeter, the Lark, and the pool trains to Seattle.  It shares duties with 1070 as the motive power of the Lake Whatcom Railway.

Waterfall

Passengers can disembark at short layovers to hike the trails that are inaccessible to the general public, such as the one that leads to this waterfall.  It is a popular destination and an easy hike for young people.  The primitive trail and lush forest vegetation provide a serene and photogenic setting.

Coach Northern Pacific 634

Enjoy the comfort of the red plush seats in the last remaining Northern Pacific 88 seat 600 series coach, originally built and operated as a Pullman parlor car for the Pennsylvania Railroad in the inaugural year of the Broadway Limited.  This car has been in continual passenger service since it was built.  It was a fixture on the many of the renowned Casey Jones Special excursions out of Seattle.

Mirror Lake

Most days Mirror Lake is dirty brown as muddy water is piped into it from the Nooksak River drainage basin.  On occasion, though, the tainted water is shut off and Mirror Lake can be appreciated in its natural splendor by the passengers on the train a few days a year.

Business Car Northern Pacific "Madison River"

The elegant business car "Madison River" was built in 1926 as an observation car for the Northern Pacific's premier passenger train, the North Coast Limited.  In 1942 it was rebuilt to be included in the railroad's business car fleet.  It has remained in that 1942 configuration to this day, the last intact Northern Pacific heavyweight business car.  Passengers enjoy the rear observation platform, lounge seating, and intimate dining facilities when it is on the train.

Coffee Shop Coach Northern Pacific 1681

The last intact Northern Pacific heavyweight coffee shop coach, 1681 was rebuilt from day coach NP 1280 in 1957 for use on the transcontinental Mainstreeter.  It went into service on the overnight segment between Seattle and Spokane, where it was replaced by a full diner.  It also was assigned for use on some Casey Jones Excursions.  At the request of prominent railroad enthusiast Hal Bellis, Northern Pacific Vice President Earl Requa preserved this car for future excursion service.  Those plans fell through and the car was ultimately stored at Thorp near Ellensburg by a private individual, who eventually sold it to the Lake Whatcom Railway.  The reclining coach seats in this car were specifically designed for the comfort of long distance overnight coach passengers.

Caboose Northern Pacific 1660

The Northern Pacific remodeled 66 of its own 4 wheel 19 foot long earlier cabooses in its own shops in 1909 into 24 foot two truck cabooses.   At least one of them lasted to the year 1970, the end of time on the NP.  That one was NP 1660.  It was repainted for service on the Burlington Northern and used in the Interbay yards in Seattle.  Its number changed to NP 10660 and finally to BN 10869.  This caboose was the first to be repainted with the Northern Pacific monad on its sides, a distinguishing mark that was eventually applied to all cabooses on the system.

Coach Northern Pacific 627

One of the very first all steel passenger cars built by the Pullman Company, Parlor Car Dunlap had some very specific requirements to meet.  In 1910 the Pennsylvania Station was about to open in Manhattan, and was reached through a tunnel under the Hudson River.  Built to run on the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1910 for travel in and out of Pennsylvania Station, the Dunlap was required to be all steel construction, steam heated, and electrically lit.  The Northern Pacific purchased the Dunlap in 1941 and converted it to coach 627 in 1942.  It has been in continuous passenger operation from 1910 until this day.  The demolition of the Beaux Arts Pennsylvania Station in 1964 was the genesis of this nation's modern historic preservation movement.  One of the few remaining artifacts of the opening of that grand monument, Northern Pacific 627 is a cornerstone of the popular Cultural Heritage Tourism movement as part of the passenger train of the Lake Whatcom Railway.

American History

Wade Stevenson photograph courtesy of Milwaukee Road Historical Associalion

1070 waits at the Tacoma roundhouse for its next assignment.  A true survivor, a few years later this locomotive will leave Tacoma for McCleary in March of 1958, powering the last steam train operated by the Northern Pacific Railway.  This locomotive will then work for Simpson Logging Company to become the last operating steam locomotive of the last logging railroad in the United States.  Moving on to Lake Whatcom, 1070 provides a unique testament to unmatched mechanical durability by operating in every decade of the twentieth century.  The oldest coach of the Lake Whatcom Railway was built by Pullman when Robert Todd Lincoln was president of that company.  His father President Abraham Lincoln, signed the charter for the Northern Pacific on July 2, 1864.  President Abraham Lincoln's  first cousin and contemporary, Hannah Lincoln, was great great grandmother of the two brothers that preserved this remnant of the Northern Pacific in Whatcom County, providing a family connection from the very beginning to the very end of the Northern Pacific.

Restorations

Some of our equipment was acquired directly out  of passenger service from the Northern Pacific or Burlington Northern.  An example of one that wasn't is tool car NP X-208.  This car was a true find, as former Northern Pacific  baggage cars from the steam era are rare.  Very few have survived.  It was built for the Northern Pacific as Northern Express Agency car 1512 in 1915.  The car later was lettered for the Railroad Express Agency and used as a baggage car until converted to tool car service for the Tacoma Bridges and Buildings shop.  It will be restored using historic preservation standards to reflect its former status as a fixture on Northern Pacific trans-continental and local passenger trains.

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Meet our founder

Hi.  I'm Frank.  I began my railroading career with the Milwaukee Road while in college.  After graduation I worked for the Northern Pacific and Burlington Northern.

I incorporated the Lake Whatcom Railway in 1970 and off we went.  Enjoy the preservation of railroading in its heyday.

 

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