2018 Bellingham Convention Info
Welcome to Bellingham, Washington for the 2018 GNRHS convention, September 15 to 19. There will also be an optional Post Convention Tour September 20 to September 22.
The 2018 convention will focus on the history of the Great Northern in the upper Washington state and British Columbia with tours and presentations. The usual staples of the GNRHS convention; the railfair, banquet, raffle and a new Model Display are also part of the great line-up we have this year.
Presentations will cover GN's Coast Line, the GN in the Fraser Valley and in Vancouver DC, modeling GN signaling and GN Locomotives and Freight Equipment and much, much more.
We kick off on Saturday with a great line-up of tours with the Bellingham Rail History Sites and Routes rail tour. This tour will explore the interior and coastal routes of the major GN railway precursors (the Fairhaven and Southern and Seattle and Montana Railroads) into Bellingham from the south. On the way south, we will view the preserved Blanchard GN frame depot and the site of the Colony Mill. Show more...
We will start north at the F&S and Seattle & Lake Shore Eastern (NP) “rail triangle” in Sedro Woolley and follow the F&S route into Happy Valley and Fairhaven (driving on portions of the old route). We will also visit the major S&M rail crossings at Burlington and Belleville leading respectively to the S&M coast line and the temporary connection to the old F&S line at “F&S Junction”. The bus will follow Friday Creek, Lake Samish, Chuckanut and Padden Creeks back into Bellingham. Box lunch will be provided at Fairhaven Park. The major historic rail sites and parks along Bellingham Bay in Fairhaven, Sehome Junction, and Whatcom (Bellingham precursor towns) will be explored including the Taylor Dock and Boulevard Parks which have an offshore boardwalk from which views of the current BNSF (ex GN) and Amtrak “Cascades” (old “International”) rail line are available. The still-extant Bellingham GN Depot and freight house will be viewed in old Whatcom. The location of industries and competing railroad facilities (depots and yards) of BB&BC (Milwaukee) and BB&E (Northern Pacific) railroads will also be visited.
On Saturday we also offer a non-rail tour of the Historic Fairhaven District: Tour the historic Fairhaven District of Bellingham with a choice of activities including ceramic painting or glass fusing, shopping, book stores, clothing and jewelry shops, and local artists’ craft boutiques. Show more...
Fairhaven dates from the 1880’s and many old historic buildings (some reportedly haunted) have been carefully restored. Modern infill buildings generally mimic the style of older ones, giving the town the feel of an older village. Shoreline walking trails are available starting near the Fairhaven Green or the multi-modal Amtrak/Greyhound/Alaska Ferry Terminal at the foot of Harris Avenue. A spiral bound guidebook will be included in your registration packet to provide detailed directions, explanations and maps. A special loft will be reserved for GNRHS members at the ceramics painting shop along with a knowledgeable staff person to instruct or help participants with their painting and glass fusing projects. Lunch will be on your own at a wide variety of over 30 local (non-chain) eating establishments, including restaurants, small cafes, pastry and coffee shops, craft breweries, wine bars and a traditional English tea shop.
In the evening we'll have a tour that will appeal to most: Bellingham Bay Sunset History Tour by Boat. This two-hour boat trip tour, beginning just before sunset, will explore the major industrial, rail and historic sites along Bellingham Bay viewing the coastline from the water. This trip may provide an opportunity to view a variety of Puget Sound marine life. A chicken dinner will be provided on the boat and an open cash bar will be available.
On Monday we'll have a non-rail tour giving A Taste of Whatcom County Crafts. This tour will visit Mountain Glass Studio, a local glass works, to observe a glass-blowing in action. Bellewood Acres, a local orchard and distillery, will be next on your itinerary where you will have a tour of the orchard and packing plant operations; you will be able to pick 3 apples on the tour to take with you. A soup, salad, lunch buffet will be served. Show more...
A short visit to the River Walk Park in Ferndale will allow viewing of several totem poles carved by the Lummi Nation “House of Tears” carvers. These carvers have produced many famous memorial poles, including poles for the 9-11 site in New York and a memorial for Standing Rock. The tour will end at Twin Sisters Creamery with a wine and cheese tasting. If cheese production is in progress, it will also be possible to observe the procedures.
On Tuesday we'll have an exciting Cross-Border Rail Tour taking us into Canada. This day-long, lunch and dinner inclusive, tour starts at the restored former Great Northern Depot in White Rock BC, which now houses the City of White Rock Museum and Archives. There will be a presentation in the museum as well as a walking tour on the promenade along the former Great Northern (now BNSF) mainline between Seattle and Vancouver BC. Show more...
From there we visit the Fraser Valley Heritage Railway Society (FVHRS) in Cloverdale BC, where we will tour their facility and shop and ride a restored BC Electric Interurban car that once served the Fraser Valley between Vancouver and Chilliwack. Lunch will be served on site. Following that we continue to the Burnaby Central Railway in Burnaby BC where we are hosted by the BC Society of Model Engineers at their 6.5-acre site in Confederation Park. We will enjoy rides on the 7.5-inch live steam railway, an N scale modular display by the Vancouver TraiNgang in the station, as well as the newly expanded Garden Railway. A BBQ Salmon and Rib Dinner will be served at the park prior to our return to the hotel.
NOTICE: This tour crosses the U.S. – Canadian border. U.S. and Canadian citizens will require a valid passport; Foreign nationals (non-US or Canadian citizens must be sure to the proper papers to allow you to leave the U.S., enter Canada, and re-enter the U.S.)
Passports and ID will be checked at bus boarding. Be sure your passport is up to date or you will not be allowed to board the bus. Be advised that if you have ANY felony convictions, you will NOT be allowed to enter Canada. Drunk Driving offenses are considered a felony in Canada and will prevent your entry. Be sure you can meet all requirements. Do not attempt to bring alcoholic beverages, firearms or any prohibited drugs, including marijuana, into Canada. If requested, we will provide registrant information to both U.S. and Canadian customs officials.
Passports and ID will be checked at bus boarding. Be sure your passport is up to date or you will not be allowed to board the bus. Be advised that if you have ANY felony convictions, you will NOT be allowed to enter Canada. Drunk Driving offenses are considered a felony in Canada and will prevent your entry. Be sure you can meet all requirements. Do not attempt to bring alcoholic beverages, firearms or any prohibited drugs, including marijuana, into Canada.
If requested, we will provide registrant information to both U.S. and Canadian customs officials.
On Wednesday we have a non-rail tour planned to La Conner for shopping and visiting the Pacific Northwest Quilt Museum. La Conner has become a mecca for artists and is home to a small fishing fleet. The main street features many boutiques offering the work of local artists and other esoterica of the Pacific Northwest. The morning will be devoted to exploring or shopping. Show more...
Lunch is on your own in one of the many fine restaurants on the main business street in La Connor with several of these featuring fresh seafood and other prototypically Northwest Cuisine.
In the afternoon we will take a short ride up the hill to the Pacific Northwest Quilt and Fiber Museum, one of only eight museums in the United States dedicated to fiber arts and quilts. Housed in the charming Gaches Mansion, the museum is one of the oldest buildings in La Conner. It features three stories of displays of quilting artistry. There is NO elevator; however, the stairs are manageable for most and the museum generally has a video or pictorial overview for those who do not wish to go beyond the first floor.
Download the Detailed Tour Information Sheet for all details on the tours.
Please see the preliminary Convention Timecard for the times of the tours and presentations (subject to change).
Post Convention Tour Thursday, September 20 to Saturday September 22.
This tour takes us to the West Coast Railway Association’s Heritage Park in Squamish, BC. Upon arrival, you will be served a lunch in the station and spend the afternoon touring their extensive facility. Dinner and an evening presentation will take place in the CN Roundhouse Conference Centre which also houses the famed Royal Hudson Locomotive. While at the Heritage Park, you will see the newly restored and repainted Great Northern transfer caboose that formerly worked in the yard at New Westminster, BC. Show more...
There is a Great Northern-painted RS-1 in their collection and the CTC board from the White Rock GN Depot is on display in one of the restored passenger cars. You also get to ride their 7.5-inch mini-rail around the park and enjoy their garden railway. The following day you will visit the Britannia Mine National Historic Site where you ride their underground railway, tour the mine and town site and enjoy a BBQ lunch. Following lunch, you enjoy the option of free time at Heritage Park, visiting an operating Great Northern HO Layout or a nature walk at Shannon Falls Provincial Park. Dinner that evening will be in the CN Roundhouse, followed by a ride on their restored heritage train, where dessert will be served.
Our convention headquarters will be the Four Points by Sheraton Bellingham hotel.
Please see the Hotel Information Sheet for more information and how to reserve.
Please see the Banquet Information Sheet for this year's dinner choices.
Register Online (sign-in first) or mail in the convention registration form included in the March issue of the Goat. This form is also available for download . Registration closes August 15. Late registration and registration at the convention will be available. See the registration form for details.