The world’s largest, and arguably most important, railway museum houses a staggering 100 locomotive engines across several vast railway sheds. The collection covers over 155 acres. The museum also displays a number of historic railway cars and other equipment. Scheduled 90-minute group tours allow you to explore the entire facility. The museum is open all year round, except Christmas and New Years Day.
Visitors can climb aboard many of the locomotives and ride a short distance on the narrow gauge railroads. They can also see the massive coal pits and watch the work of a blacksmith.
The museum has an impressive collection of locomotives, including some from outside of the United Kingdom. One such locomotive is the 125-ft long Allegheny, which was built for the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway in 1941. It could pull 160 coal cars each with a 60-ton load over the steep grades of the Allegheny Mountains.
Other highlights include a replica of George Stephenson’s Rocket (1829), which was the first true steam locomotive, as well as the Flying Scotsman (which set a record in 1938 that has never been broken) and Mallard (which also broke records in 1938). There are also exhibits on modern railway technology.
There is a large collection of railway memorabilia and photographs, including operating manuals from locomotives, technical drawings of train vehicles, financial reports through the years, and graphic posters that advertised trains. There are also working replicas of a steam derrick and rotary snowplow on display. The museum has an impressive model railway layout that tracks trains on a 1:87 scale around towns and villages in southwest Nova Scotia.
The museum also has a number of interactives that educate visitors about the history of trains and railroading. Children can learn how to build a train track or take control of an operating train simulator. They can even create a digital avatar to drive an actual working locomotive. The museum has its own locomotive shop, which is used to maintain and repair the collection. It is the largest railway museum shop in the world, and is operated by volunteers. It is the only such shop in Canada that works with steam locomotives.