Parlor Car 1799 is prepared for a trip across the Puget Sound. Courtesy Photo

Parlor Car 1799 is prepared for a trip across the Puget Sound. Courtesy Photo

Railway Museum acquires 117-year old Parlor Car from Whidbey Island

The car was built in 1901, was one of two train cars built to a specific design specification and is the only survivor of the two.

After spending more than 60 years as a cottage on Whidbey Island, the 117-year-old Parlor Car 1799 is coming to the Northwest Railway Museum in Snoqualmie.

Built in 1901 by the Pullman Company in Illinois, Parlor Car 1799 was operated by the Northern Pacific Railway from Seattle to Yakima until 1940. The car is one of two train cars built to a specific design specification called a “plan number” and is the only survivor of the two.

Richard Anderson, executive director of the Northwest Railway Museum, explained that parlor cars, or parlor sections of train cars, were more spacious and comfortable for passengers willing to pay higher prices.

“For people just on a day trip, perhaps they were going to Ellensburg or Yakima, the idea of the parlor car was to provide a better accommodation for someone who is willing to pay more,” he said. “It was the business class of 1901.”

By the late 1930s, several changes, such as as better seating and air conditioning, had been made to train cars which led to older models falling out of favor.

According to Anderson, a railroad executive working for Northern Pacific Railway in Auburn purchased the car in 1941 and moved it to Whidbey Island to use as a cottage. The train car was treated very respectfully as only a few modifications had been made to the interior. In addition, the car itself was kept under a roof, which protected it from rain and snow.

“They used a lot of respect to route the pipes and wiring and it’s been used that way for 77 years,” Anderson said.

Nickel Bros workers move the parlor car from it’s shelter to the ship which will carry it across the water. Courtesy Photo

Nickel Bros workers move the parlor car from it’s shelter to the ship which will carry it across the water. Courtesy Photo

The third and current owners of the train car, Dan and Jana Shaw, donated the car to the museum after their daughter-in-law brought her children to Snoqualmie for the museum’s annual Day Out with Thomas event. She found that the museum was connected to the event and got in contact with Anderson about taking on the parlor car.

The museum contracted Nickel Bros, a structural moving company, to bring the car over the Puget Sound for its big move to the museum’s train shed. On April 30, the contractors loaded the train onto a shipping barge and transferred it across the sound.

Because the car is in such good shape, Anderson said it won’t take too much time to get it ready for display at the museum.

“At this time we are not going to do any repairs or rehab,” he said. “Stabilize the car, put some wheels on it and roll it into the building and make sure there are no insects or rodents…Long term, it needs additional work, interior-wise it’s in very good shape, other than a very good cleaning and minor demolition work — it had a full kitchen cabinet. We’ve already removed that. We took that out before moving.”

Anderson said the acquisition and move cost the museum almost $100,000, which he hopes will be supported through continued fundraising for the project. The museum has already raised $50,000 and is participating in the Seattle Foundation’s Give Big campaign, a 24-hour online giving event to raise funds for area nonprofit organizations. This year’s event is May 9.

“(The parlor car owners) made a big give to the museum, so we are hoping folks in the community will give big to make sure we can follow through and deliver to the museum,” Anderson said.

The acquisition of the parlor car is another piece of unique Northwest history that Anderson is said is exactly the type of peice that matches the museum’s mission and vision.

“This actually ran out of King Street Station in Seattle and it’s relatively rare, even on a national scale,” he said, “not too many objects like this in museums around the country. This represents the golden age of travel, which is also not often represented. This kind of thing typically did not survive to the 1940s. It was basically somebody’s secret.”


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@bothell-reporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.bothell-reporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in Northwest

State Capitol Building in Olympia. File photo
Politicians get pay raises, state workers get furloughs

A citizens panel approved the hikes in 2019. Unable to rescind them, lawmakers look to donate their extra earnings.

AG Ferguson wants to require law enforcement statewide to report all uses of deadly force

Report to Legislature recommends centralized, easily accessible statewide website on incidents

Stay local with summer travel plans | State Department of Health

Officials want people to limit cross-state travel to help slow spread of COVID-19

Public and private universities, colleges, technical schools, apprenticeship programs and similar schools and programs may resume general instruction, including in-person classes and lectures, starting Aug. 1. Pictured: The University of Washington-Bothell campus. File photo
Universities and colleges may reopen in fall, governor says

His order requires masks and physical distancing, among other measures, to help prevent infections.

A new measure from the King County Council could increase flexibility for businesses in rural areas of King County. File photo
County measure would increase flexibility for businesses in rural areas

Staff report Legislation the King County Council passed June 23 could lead… Continue reading

Changes coming to Port of Seattle Police Department

Hiring practices, commitment to diversity, use of force

File photo/pexels.com
Renton man pleads guilty to one of state’s largest workers’ comp scams

The delivery driver was still working under his own name while receiving L&I pension, and owes the state almost $340,000.

King County Board of Health declares racism a crisis

Racism was declared a public health crisis by King County’s Board of… Continue reading

State Capitol Building, Olympia, Washington. File photo
Tax collections tumble as state braces for huge budget hole

Inslee cancels pay raises for some execs and orders furloughs for workers as special session looms.

Kabal Gill, owner of East India Grill in Federal Way, wears gloves to hand over take-out orders at his restaurant on March 23. File photo
New guidelines for Phase 2 reopenings in King County

All workers will need to wear masks as restaurants, retail shops and other businesses reopen.

This undated file photo provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows CDC’s laboratory test kit for the new coronavirus. Courtesy photo
Inslee wants nursing home residents and staff tested by June 12

Governor says state will pay for test kits and personal protective equipment.

New protocols set for Sea-Tac Airport

Strategy to ensure the health, well-being of passengers, visitors and workers