Historic train trucked over Snoqualmie Pass. Next up: I-82 & I-84

Last-of-its-kind locomotive on 847-mile journey from Snoqualmie, WA to Ely, NV
Train Locomotive Snoqualmie Crop
Courtesy: Nevada Northern Railway Museum

VIDEO: Check out the locomotive rolling through Tri-Cities, thanks to Richard Olson and Nevada Northern Railway. The rig was moving through Oregon on Tuesday/Wednesday.

UPDATE: The train-moving crew stopped at Exit 11 on I-82 just east (south) of Ellensburg on Monday night and will head toward Yakima on Tuesday. They hope to make it to Oregon Tuesday night. Follow Locomotive 201’s journey here.


ELLENSBURG, Wash. — Train enthusiasts who’ve helped to move a last-of-its-kind locomotive from Snoqualmie, Washington toward Ely, Nevada were thrilled on Monday to see their precious cargo had made it past the first few gigantic hurdles and was nearing Ellensburg.

Moving is not fun. It can be a serious endeavor. In this case, it requires hundreds of thousands of dollars, special highway permits from four states and a moving company capable of towing 100 tons over multiple mountain passes.

Donors to the Nevada Northern Railway have raised $356,261 to bring Locomotive 201 from the Northwest Railway Museum in Snoqualmie to Ely, Nevada. Some of the money will be used at a later date to bring Locomotive 401 from Delta, Utah to Ely.

One problem is the Snoqualmie and Ely museums are not connected by rail, so the cargo must be trucked along interstate highways. Another problem is Locomotive 201 weighs about 100 tons.

Last Thursday, two massive cranes were used to lift the locomotive onto a 225-foot-long rig with 96 wheels.

Each wheel on the rig can turn independently, according to organizers, who planned a route along I-90, then south along I-82 to I-84 to US 93.

Drivers told the train enthusiasts their top speed would be 35 mph, and going over the mountain passes will be 5-10 mph.

The Intermountain Rigging and Hauling trailer can be raised and lowered to go over road bumps or under low bridges.

On Monday, the team made it over Snoqualmie Pass. The next big mountain challenges will be Manastash Ridge, Emigrant Hill AKA Cabbage Hill and Deadman Pass outside Pendleton:

“They will gain about 2,000 feet of elevation in six miles and twist through a double hair pin turn at a 6-percent grade,” train museum organizers wrote on Facebook.

You can read more about the historic train on the move here:

Locomotive 201, ALCO RSD-4 was purchased by the Kennecott Copper Corporation for operation on the Nevada Northern Railway in 1951. The challenge the railroad faced is that its mainline was still 60 pound rail from its construction in 1905. The ALCO RSD-4 had three axle trucks that allowed the weight of the locomotive to be spread over a larger area in light rail.
Locomotive 201 was retired by Kennecott in 1982. It was donated to what would become the Northwest Railway Museum and delivered to Snoqualmie on July 11, 1984. It was used in excursion service by the Northwest Railway Museum until mechanical issues sidelined the locomotive.
In the meantime the Nevada Northern Railway Museum wanted to return Locomotive 201 back home where it began its career 70-years ago. This desire lead to the Great Locomotive Switcharoo, a joint project of the Northwestern Railway Museum and the Nevada Northern Railway Museum.
Locomotive 201 would come home to the Nevada Northern Railway and at the same time another equally rare ALCO Locomotive #125 that was built in 1940 would come to the Northwest Railway Museum. Locomotive 125 was just the second diesel-electric locomotive on the Northern Pacific Railway and was the first operate in Seattle. It has direct ties to the mission of the Northwest railway Museum whereas Locomotive 201 has direct ties the Nevada Northern Railway Museum. That’s what the great locomotive switcharoo was all about, preserving early examples of diesel locomotives in museums that have a direct tie to the respective locomotive.
So on November 3, 2021, not one but two locomotives were moved to new homes. Locomotive 125 is now home at the Northwest Railway Museum and Locomotive 201 is loaded up, ready to begin its long trip home to Ely Nevada.
This move was made possible the members and the supporters of the Nevada Northern Railway Museum in Ely Nevada. I invite you to join the Nevada Northern Railway family by becoming a member of the museum. It’s easy, your membership will help preserve this unique time capsule for future generation. https://nnry.com/n0978a

It kind of puts any previous complaints you may have had about moving into perspective, eh?

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