With the mini-train, open-air market and the newly-relocated historical museum, the town of Skykomish is ramping up for a lively summer season.
The Great Northern and Cascade Railway miniature railway, located directly in the center of town, is currently being prepped for its grand opening celebration that will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, May 3 and 4.
Starting on May 10, a new open air market set up at Railroad Avenue will do business from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the second Saturday of every month. Additionally, the Skykomish Historical Society’s museum held its grand opening on April 26 after moving into a newly-renovated space in the historic Maloney Store.
Skykomish’s newest candy store, Skykomish Toot Sweet, will also be open for business beginning May 3. The railroad-themed store features all sorts of sugary confections, as well as railroad memorabilia and other novelty items. Owner Debbie Koch is excited for the new season that, in addition to the train, market and the museum, will eventually feature a new 900-foot nature trail located alongside Maloney Creek.
The new trail project, which is being coordinated by the Skykomish Environmental Institute, is set to begin construction sometime in May, with a tentative completion date of late June.
It seems that the town has finally begun to gain some stability after the extensive oil cleanup process which lingered on for six years.
Railway Project Manager Kevin Weiderstrom spearheaded the Great Northern and Cascade Railway project from its inception, operating the miniature train all last summer.
This year, the train will be open every weekend through the summer months and will also operate in September and October. The railway features a scaled-down, fully authentic 725-pound live steam locomotive that can carry up to 40 passengers at a time along an hourglass-shaped half-mile course. The train travels between four and six miles per hour.
The track, which even features its own “golden spike,” was built entirely by hand last year by Weiderstrom and other volunteers. It is perfectly scaled to be one-eighth the size of a regular railroad track and can accommodate several different types of locomotives including propane, coal, steam, gas or electric. Train enthusiasts are encouraged to bring their own trains and take them for a spin on the custom track.
Weiderstrom is in the midst of new historical embellishments which will be placed alongside the train tracks to reflect some of the valley’s rich railroad history.
“I want to have a representation of every town that was from here to Wellington,” said Weiderstrom. “I’m going to have a little sign by each one that tells what it is. I’ve already got the first one made.”
He is currently in the process of recreating a miniaturized Wellington train depot. At three foot by six foot, the small building is built to approximately the same scale as the mini-train.
“I’m going to actually cut brick down to make a real brick chimney,” said Weiderstrom.
Other depots will include Alpine, Tonga, Scenic, Embro and Corea.
Funding for the train project has come, in part, from the city’s settlement with Burlington Northern. Additionally, grant funding has been extremely important to the project. The King County organization 4Culture, a public development authority dedicated to preserving history and heritage, has provided significant grant funding in support of the small train.
4Culture has also been instrumental in the relocation of the Skykomish Historical Society Museum, now operating out of the Maloney Store. In addition to photographs, historical data and Skykomish area memorabilia, the museum features a display which includes actual artifacts from the Wellington disaster.
Skykomish Historical Society President Pat Gallagher-Carlson said that 4Culture has been consistently supportive of the museum through grant funding.
“We’ve gotten numerous grants from them,” said Gallagher-Carlson. “It’s kept this going.”
The museum will be open from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. every weekend throughout the summer and possibly the fall. The SHS has a sustaining grant through 4Culture to staff the small treasure trove of Skykomish history.
4Culture grant funding also helped to help renovate the museum’s new location.
The Skykomish Historical Society is always on the lookout for stories, artifacts, photographs, films, videos, contributions and volunteers. For more information contact the Skykomish Historical Society at firstname.lastname@example.org. The museum is also open on Tuesdays, by appointment only. Contact Bob Kelly for an appointment at email@example.com or call (425) 432-3884.
The Skykomish open air market is currently scheduled for May 10, June 14, July 12, August 9 and September 13. The market will include handcrafted jewelry, clothing, furniture, art, plants and much more. To find out about having a booth at the Skykomish market call (360) 677-2135.