A Steam Train Museum is a Must-See For Train Enthusiasts and History Lovers

The days of steam trains are long gone, but for train enthusiasts and history buffs, the sounds and sights of these iron horses remain a powerful draw. These railway machines, once the standard mode of transport for both passengers and goods, are a sight to behold, especially when on display in a museum dedicated to them.

Fortunately, the railroad preservation movement has a number of museums that showcase the glory days of rail travel. These train-themed institutions are located across the country and range in size, scope, and focus. From a scale model of the Union Pacific “Big Boy” to a full-sized locomotive, these railroad museums are sure to please any fan of these iconic machines.

One of the most comprehensive railroad museums in the nation is the National Museum of Transportation in St. Louis, Missouri. It features not only a wide collection of steam locomotives, but also diesel and electric power as well. The museum even offers ride opportunities aboard its main line steam and diesel-powered trains.

A number of historic structures are housed at the museum including Barber Junction Depot, the Bob Julian Roundhouse (the largest roundhouse in North America), and the massive Back Shop. Among the highlights of the collection is the museum’s restored 1902 steam engine, the only one of its kind to survive in existence.

The museum also houses a number of smaller steam locomotives that were used by urban transit systems to carry both passengers and goods in city centers. These locomotives are often smaller and more nimble than larger steamers and thus were easier to operate in congested areas. The Forney Museum of Transportation in Denver, Colorado is another great spot to see small steam locomotives. This railroad museum features a small version of the Union Pacific’s famous Big Boy and other smaller locomotives.

This museum was founded in 1944 and boasts perhaps the biggest collection of large steam locomotives in the world. The exhibit includes not only the aforementioned Big Boy but also other large engines from across the USA such as an AT&SF 2-8-8-4, an SP 4-8-4, and a C&O 2-8-8-2.

In addition to its extensive collection of railway equipment, the museum is also home to a variety of automobiles and other vehicles that were popular in postwar America. A number of the cars are on display in its Car Barn and others are displayed in the museum’s Bumper to Bumper automotive exhibit.

The museum is constantly restoring and overhauling its collection of railroad equipment, but it is also able to host a number of special events throughout the year. These special events allow the public to experience firsthand the sound of the clickety-clack and smell the smoke of the locomotives while taking in the history of railway travel.

The museum is currently working on the restoration of a large Southern Pacific steam locomotive. The museum has opened up its backshop so the public can view the locomotive under construction during its weekly open houses. The corporation hopes to have the locomotive ready for service by early 2008.