EVERETT — A small-scale version of grand past railroads in the Puget Sound area is planned at Everett Station.
The Swamp Creek and Western Railroad Association, a model railroad group, signed a lease for about 640 square feet on the main floor of the city’s transit hub at 3201 Smith Ave. On Wednesday, the Everett City Council unanimously approved the five-year agreement that starts in June starting at $500 a month for rent that goes up 3% in a couple of years.
The city’s lease is below market rate in exchange for the “public benefit” of the model railroad, which is planned to host schools for tours and lessons on how railroads helped forge Everett.
“It really was a no-brainer to have a train museum at the train station,” Everett assistant real property manager Darcie Byrd said. “We just think it makes a lot of sense that we have this service that provides education and a fun space for the community. It just lights the imagination.”
All of the association’s 10 or so members and officers are volunteers who love the art, hobby and study of model railroads.
The association, based in Edmonds for over four decades, was named after the creek that runs east of Lynnwood. But its longtime space at the Edmonds depot on Railroad Avenue was needed for BNSF work, so the association moved out in December.
Glenn Farley, the association’s secretary, said he estimated around 25,000 to 30,000 visitors through the years in Edmonds. It’s hard to have regular hours with a small number of volunteers, but people may have visited during the shows around Christmas.
Moving required careful disassembly of the intricate fictional (but theoretically feasible, Farley said) model railroad assembled inside. All of those pieces — bridges, buildings, mountains, rivers, railroad and trains — are stored and waiting for a new display space.
The association’s leaders didn’t find a new space to relocate in Edmonds. A member visited Everett, saw room at the transit hub and got in touch with city staff, which put the wheels in motion, Farley said.
Moving to a railroad hub, one with historic and modern use, made sense to them.
“It gives us an opportunity to make Everett a little bit more interesting and gives you another place to go,” Farley said.
Early Everett was home to three major rail lines: the Great Northern Railway, the Northern Pacific Railway and the Milwaukee Road. The city also had the Everett-Snohomish and Everett-Seattle interurban lines, streetcars and the Everett and Monte Cristo Railroad.
The association’s members plan to feature all of those in their model, called a layout. It could take six months to make something presentable and operational, Farley said.
First, the members will build the lumber framework, called benchwork. Other parts, such as mountains and rivers, usually are made from plastic with plaster and resin cloth for texture. Buildings might start as stock kits with modifications to make them accurate to historic structures in Everett and beyond, but many will be made from scratch, Farley said.
“To build an accurate railroad, we’re going to have to do a lot from scratch,” he said.
Members search for photos and architectural plans of historic buildings to help recreate them as models.
But even when the original layout is achieved, work is never finished, Farley said. Members consistently update pieces over the years.
The association intends to change its name to the Everett Railroad Heritage Association.
With a new location, Farley is hopeful to gain new members to the association even if they’re unfamiliar with the hobby.
“You can join us and learn it, too,” he said.
Ben Watanabe: 425-339-3037; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @benwatanabe.
This story has been modified to correct the name of Swamp Creek and Western Railroad Association secretary Glenn Farley.
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