Museum Monday: Colorado Railroad Museum

Originally Published August 25, 2009

If you have a love of trains, from the smallest around to the biggest, then this is the place for you! A few weeks ago, my father and I went, originally to look at some things in their library, but while we were there, we decided a look around was a good idea.

And it was. You can’t miss the trains – engines, freight cars, passenger cars, cabooses – from a variety of trains since trains began in Colorado 125 years ago. I can’t even begin to describe some of the cars we saw to you; I can just highlight my favorites:

Galloping Goose Number 2The Galloping Goose – a railway car, quite literally. The front end is a truck designed for use on the rails, and the back end is a railway car. They were used to carry mail, small amounts of supplies, as well as spare parts to fix other trains. They were created for the Rio Grande South railroad the early 1900s, and were in use until the railway closed in 1951. Goose #2 and #3 can be seen at the Colorado Railroad Museum. Here’s a neat article about the Galloping Geese – http://drgw.free.fr/RGS/Goose/Goose_en.htm

1890s Freight CarThe 1890s narrow gauge cattle/cargo car. It is shorter and smaller than my van; it’s clear that this was the type of car needed for some of these narrow mountain routes.

The Caboose built in 1941 – clearly meant for long haul use; what struck me most was the ingenious use of storage throughout the car; a sink, a table that folded up and doubled as a pantry, cupboards everywhere, even an icebox. The old wood stove with the flat top designed to hold two different pans fairly securely while on the road, as well as sleeping areas for three people.Stove in the caboose - note the unique flat top.Sleeping areas in the caboose - this one had three.Storage areas and ice box under the obersvation seats
Inside the main “depot” – designed to look like an 1880s train depot are displays of items found on the trains during the different periods, a switching panel, and in the basement is a model HO town – for a quarter, you can make the train run or the carnival run; the amount of detail is unbelievable and you really do need to spend some time looking at all the little things. If you ask nicely, you may be allowed into the inner workings!
Of course, my favorite spot was the library. Kenton Forest is the main archivist, and if he doesn’t know it about trains in Colorado, then it isn’t to be known. Just by luck, we happened through just after a donation of photos from 1929 along the Denver, South Park and Pacific railroad had been given to the museum by the Denver Water folks. I only managed to look through one box, but it was unbelievable interesting to look at where the train ran and where the roads run today; to be able to make the mental comparison between the past and the present. I also got to look at valuation maps for the D, SP&P railroad, and I barely, barely scratched the surface of what resources they have. It is a research library, so there is no checking things out, but for a fee, sometimes copies can be made of certain things.   It is open the same hours the museum is open.
Inside the workshop - an engine being repaintedOf course, besides the coolness of being round the trains, there are other features. You can go over to the roundhouse and see them working on refurbishing certain cars and trains, as well as look at the turntable used to move the various cars. It’s even more impressive when you realize it was all manpower that made that turntable move.!
There are events galore – on the weekends, you can take a ride on one of the trains around the 15 acre lot. Kids events are held regularly –http://www.coloradorailroadmuseum.org/kids-crossing and tour groups are welcome –http://www.coloradorailroadmuseum.org/group-tours You can even book a birthday car for that special birthday celebration.
The museum is located at 17155 44th Avenue in Golden. Take I-70, Exit 265 westbound or exit 266 eastbound. Follow the signs and look for the trains.
Hours are 9am to 5pm daily, year round.
Admission is:
Children – Under 2 – free
Children – 2 to 16 – $5
Adults – $8.00
Seniors over 60 – $7.00
Family Rate – (Two adults and children under 16) – $18.00
Many of the exhibits you can go on and look around; the mail car is especially neat with its display of how it worked as well as a video talking about the mail and the postmen along the rails.
For information, history, special events and all other kids of details, please check out their website – http://www.coloradorailroadmuseum.org/
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