EMD SD9 “599” is a railfan and tourist favorite in Skykomish, WA. Previously a hub for Great Northern Railway, the city of Skykomish continues to serve as a hub from Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF).
“599” was a former Burlington Northern loco that was retired and has since been repainted in Great Northern colors and given the historical “599” road number.
BNSF graciously offered to donate “599” to the City of Skykomish to help preserve railroad history and the Great Northern heritage. This arrangement was agreed upon a number of years ago, however the City of Skykomish has struggled to find a location and funds to move “599” from its current position on a BNSF spur. As an active railroad, BNSF cannot continue to allow “599” to remain parked indefinitely.
Recent work by BNSF drew attention and sadness with preparations to drain fluids with a view to scrap the loco. The intent was always to save “599”, and BNSF has agreed to provide additional time for the City of Skykomish to raise the funds needed to move the loco and preserve it.
The City of Skykomish is limited in how it can accept public donations, which has complicated raising funds to save “599”. A strong partner of the city is the Great Northern and Cascades Railway (GNCR), a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit and currently holding long-term lease on City of Skykomish land adjacent to the BNSF lines. This land is used by the GNCR for a 5,000ft 1/8 scale ride-on railroad that offers free rides to the public every weekend during its operating season from May through October.
The GNCR can sponsor this GoFundMe and accept donations with the agreement that all funds raised will then be donated as a lump sum to the City of Skykomish. With the funds able to be accepted in such a way, contracts can be secured with BNSF to move “599” off the BNSF spur and onto the City of Skykomish park land.
Once moved, “599” will be an asset of the City of Skykomish and secured for future generations. The GNCR will work as a partner to help maintain and showcase the loco along with other historical railroad artifacts, currently located in the historic Skykomish depo and museum.
Where will “599” be located?
We hope to contract with BNSF to move “599” along a temporary track onto the City of Skykomish land adjacent to the existing railroad. This location helps keep the loco close to the historic Skykomish depo and museum and partners in the GNCR.
What if you don’t raise the required funds?
If this GoFundMe doesn’t meet the target goal, your donation is refunded. At that point, the City of Skykomish would be unable to extend the timeframe for the move with BNSF. Plans by BNSF to then scrap the loco would unfortunately proceed.
Why try to raise funds now?
The recent outpouring of support from the local community, especially through social media, highlights how important this loco is. Many people view “599” as part of the Skykomish community and the heritage of Great Northern in the area. As the City of Skykomish has been unable to allocate the required funds to support the move directly, we hope fans of the Great Northern, Pacific Northwest train fans, and all those that support preserving such a historical artifact will be able to save “599”.