AKCHO members were treated to a tour of a brand spanking-new facility when the Pacific Northwest Railroad Archive hosted AKCHO’s February membership meeting as the Archive’s inaugural event on Tuesday, February 26.
The PNRA is a consortium of four non-profit Railroad History Organizations (RHOs). They include the Great Northern Railway Historical Society, Northern Pacific Railway Historical Association, Cascade Rail Foundation (representing the Milwaukee Road in Washington State), and the Boeing Employee Model Railroad Club, all of whose missions involve preserving the history of railroads and contributing to an understanding of the role railroads played in developing the United States.
Through PNRA, the RHOs share expenses and have developed an affordable space in Burien to preserve the histories of the railroads both physically and digitally. PNRA bought the 7,500-square-foot facility, a former plumbing supply store, in 2010 and has remodeled it extensively. AKCHO members were shown the collections as well as a dedicated space for a new HO-scale layout.
PNRA executive director Gary Tarbox discussed the common mission the RHOs share of preserving railroad history and contributing to an understanding of the role railroads have played in developing the United States. The Archive hosts substantial records that railroads kept of routes and depots throughout the United States, and PNRA president Bob Kelly demonstrated how to access photos and other materials on the PNRA website.
At this point, PNRA is entirely volunteer-run, although the organization hires professional consultants to conduct training and ensure that policies and procedures conform to best-practice standards.
The Archive is funded from operating revenues, individual contributions, and grants. One revenue stream derives from PNRA’s online store of railroad-related merchandise. In addition, PNRA offers fulfillment services to other non-profit organization’s online stores at about a third the cost of commercially-run services.