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Top railroad museums in the country

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Chessie

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What in your opinion are some of the top railway museums in the country?

California State?

Illinois?

Colorado?

Any other particular ones you would recommend?
 
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Seaboard92

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Illinois definitely has to be in the top ten.

B&O is also in the top ten in Baltimore. Even though they need to decide if they are trains or civil war. And decide.

Tennessee Valley deserves to be on the list they have two operating mainline steam engines.

California should be there too.

Underrated is North Carolina transportation museum.

Overrated is Virginia Museum of Transportation.
 

JohannFarley

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I personally love the Strasburg Railroad and Railroad Museum of PA in Strasburg, PA. The museum has many engines and rolling stock from the many railroads of PA, and the Strasburg Railroad has a short steam excursion which takes you from Strasburg station out to their connection with the keystone corridor.

Much railroad history, also near to many Pennsylvania Dutch history in the heart of Lancaster County.
 
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Bob Dylan

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I agree that the Strasburg in PA is great as is the Cali State in Sacramento!

Underrated ones in Texas are the Texas State Railroad in Palestine/Rusk and the Santa Fe Rail Museum in Temple.

Another good one is at Union Station in Kansas City!
 

dogbert617

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There's a smallish train museum that's worth a quick look(with some past railroad memorabilia), in case you're ever in Kankakee. It's within the Amtrak station house in Kankakee, IL, and is open during daytime hours. They do have a few old railroad cars you can walk inside of as well parked just outside of that station house, if you ask those who are working that you want to take a look at those. The model railroad display they have in that museum is cool to look at, as well. There's also a really good model railroad display in the lower level of the Clarendon Park Field House in Chicago, that's worth a look in case you're near there. Nothing beyond the model railroad display at the latter, but it's cool to take a look at whenever it's open.

I really want to badly revisit the Illinois Railway Museum, one of these days. It's too bad you have to drive or bike there from Crystal Lake(or Woodstock) on Metra(and back of course, though I wouldn't mind biking the distance between CL or Woodstock to Union and back), to get over there. I'd been meaning to buy a new bike, but just hadn't done so yet. And also don't own a car. I'm sure I'll get there again, one of these days.
 
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Skyline

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Not a railroad museum per se, but a museum about iconic B&W railroad photography from the glory days is the O. Winston Link Museum in Roanoke, VA. It's in a nicely restored station. Definitely worth your time if you find yourself within a couple hours of Roanoke. Recently merged with a more general Roanoke history museum.

http://roanokehistory.org/?page_id=907
 

VentureForth

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My favorite was the North Carolina Transportation Museum in Salisbury, NC, located at the former steam backshops of the Southern Railroad.

It was better when it was free.

Savannah's Roundhouse museum is OK, but nothing fancy. Way overpriced for its offerings.
 

jis

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Steamtown in Scranton PA (covered by National Park Passes, since it is run by the National Park Service). Nice excursions, sometimes Steam hauled, sometimes all the way past Pocono Summit down the Slateford on the Delaware and back. If you have a car, a short drive to the spectacular Tunckhannock Viaduct. Also close to a Coal Mine Museum, with a trip down into a mine.

B&O Museum in Baltimore MD.
 

buck1108

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Agree with the Spencer shops (NC Transportation Museum). The hands on signals are cool too. I loved the old Savannah shops, with the self guided tour through the existing parts of the roundhouse.

The Panhandle Railroad Museum in Wellington, KS has a great privately owned collection inside, with a great steam locomotive outside.

Then the line blurs between actual museums (maybe with restored rolling stock) and preserved stations as museums...

Denison, TX has the Katy museum. The museum space itself is smallish, but the large station building has been preserved. Some nice Katy rolling stock. Knowledgeable staff.

Hugo, OK has a large, fully intact, 2 story Frisco Depot (with Harvey House restaurant) on the old Frisco line. I had no idea it was there, and the interior was still pretty authentic, the last time I was there. They have some rolling stock. Knowledgeable staff.

The Central Delta Depot Museum in Brinkley, AR, is a smaller depot, but with lots of area train and general history. The staff is quite knowledgeable. Interesting history of the passenger service that formerly ran between Little Rock and Memphis. A nice model train layout inside. (right off of I-40, about halfway between Little Rock, AR, and Memphis, TN).

The New Braunfels, TX Railroad Museum has a well-maintained depot-building, with some rolling stock. Also a nice model train layout inside.
 
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Eric S

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The Great Plains Railroad Museum in Wellington, KS has a great privately owned collection inside, with a great steam locomotive outside.
I'm familiar with the Great Plains Transportation Museum in Wichita, located near Wichita Union Station. Is there another similarly-named facility in Wellington as well?
 

buck1108

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The Great Plains Railroad Museum in Wellington, KS has a great privately owned collection inside, with a great steam locomotive outside.
I'm familiar with the Great Plains Transportation Museum in Wichita, located near Wichita Union Station. Is there another similarly-named facility in Wellington as well?
Thanks for spotting that! My mistake...I corrected it to be "Panhandle Railroad Museum" (although it's nowhere near the panhandle regions...hmmm) :)
 
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Eric S

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The Great Plains Railroad Museum in Wellington, KS has a great privately owned collection inside, with a great steam locomotive outside.
I'm familiar with the Great Plains Transportation Museum in Wichita, located near Wichita Union Station. Is there another similarly-named facility in Wellington as well?
Thanks for spotting that! My mistake...I corrected it to be "Panhandle Railroad Museum" (although it's nowhere near the panhandle regions...hmmm) :)
Hmm, interesting, never heard of that one. I've visited the museum in Wichita years ago and as I recall there is a Santa Fe steam locomotive outside there (as well as some other equipment).
 

norfolkwesternhenry

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I personally love the Strasburg Railroad and Railroad Museum of PA in Strasburg, PA. The museum has many engines and rolling stock from the many railroads of PA, and the Strasburg Railroad has a short steam excursion which takes you from Strasburg station out to their connection with the keystone corridor.

Much railroad history, also near to many Pennsylvania Dutch history in the heart of Lancaster County.
thats good news, I'll be going there with RailCamp. Anything I should look for in particular, they said we would do something with 475 and the GG-1
 

Chessie

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Thanks for all the great recommendations! My vacation destinations are set for years to come. Think I will start with the Pa and Baltimore museums and work my way west. (Now I know I am not the only one on AU who plans vacations around am snag prices and Amtrak serviced destinations. :giggle: )
 

railiner

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Lots of great museum's have been mentioned....another nice museum in Pennsylvania is the Railroader's Memorial Museum over in Altoona. Out in Kirkwood, Mo., there's the Museum of Transportation, which covers all modes, but has a nice railroad collection. And mention should also include the National RR Museum in Green Bay, Wi. Another nice one is the Gold Coast RR Museum down in Miami, Fl......

There are many, many, more...some feature operating excursion trains, other's just static displays....

And some general history museums like the Smithsonian, and the Henry Ford have interesting rail colletions...can't forget Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry, home to the Pioneer Zephyr.....
 
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PerRock

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It's not a railway specific museum, but does have some rail stuff. The Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village is well worth the visit. They're also one of the few museums that has direct service by Amtrak. I would plan at least two days if you want to see both the museum and the village.

peter
 

dogbert617

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My favorite was the North Carolina Transportation Museum in Salisbury, NC, located at the former steam backshops of the Southern Railroad.

It was better when it was free.

Savannah's Roundhouse museum is OK, but nothing fancy. Way overpriced for its offerings.
Wow, one of my family relatives lives there! I never would've guessed in a million years(since I hadn't specifically traveled to that town to visit them myself), that Salisbury was home to a railroad museum! I will have to look up info on that museum, sometime. Maybe someday I'll visit that museum? Have to say for whatever odd reason I haven't heard a lot about that museum, but now I'm intrigued about wanting to visit there someday! Maybe that'll give me the extra incentive I need, to go out there and visit those relatives? :)

BTW, has anyone ever gone to the railroad museum in East Troy, WI(southwest of Milwaukee)? I've always heard a lot about that railroad museum, but had never visited that one. How does it compare, vs. the Illinois Railway Museum? It their railcar collection smaller vs. the IL museum? That wouldn't bother me, if they were smaller vs. the IL museum. I just would like to finally get there, one of these days. Reviews seem decent, from when I skimmed over their Google and Yelp reviews.
 
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Eric S

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BTW, has anyone ever gone to the railroad museum in East Troy, WI(southwest of Milwaukee)? I've always heard a lot about that railroad museum, but had never visited that one. How does it compare, vs. the Illinois Railway Museum? It their railcar collection smaller vs. the IL museum? That wouldn't bother me, if they were smaller vs. the IL museum. I just would like to finally get there, one of these days. Reviews seem decent, from when I skimmed over their Google and Yelp reviews.
Yes, I've been to East Troy a couple times, most recently about a year ago. Unfortunately I have never made it out to Union so I cannot compare it with the Illinois Railway Museum, although I understand Union is far larger with a much more extensive collection. For me at least, the primary appeal of East Troy is less the museum and more the operating interurban equipment. I'm not sure if there are days when the museum is open without running their interurban trains, but if so, I'd suggest trying to avoid those days - not sure it'd be worth the visit simply to see the museum.
 

PerRock

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How does it compare, vs. the Illinois Railway Museum? It their railcar collection smaller vs. the IL museum? That wouldn't bother me, if they were smaller vs. the IL museum. I just would like to finally get there, one of these days. Reviews seem decent, from when I skimmed over their Google and Yelp reviews.
Well seeing as IRM is the largest railroad museum in the US, all other railroad museums are going to be smaller.

peter
 

jis

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Railroad Museum of Long Island in Riverhead NY has a small unique collection of old LIRR rolling stock, including an example of its first attempt at a double decker car - sort of. Reachable by LIRR Greenport Line Riverhead station.

New York Transit Museum in the former Court Street station in Boerum Place in Brooklyn NY is the best transit museum in the country IMHO, reachable easily by Subway Court Street Borough Hall or Jay Street Metro Tech stations.
 

dogbert617

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How does it compare, vs. the Illinois Railway Museum? It their railcar collection smaller vs. the IL museum? That wouldn't bother me, if they were smaller vs. the IL museum. I just would like to finally get there, one of these days. Reviews seem decent, from when I skimmed over their Google and Yelp reviews.
Well seeing as IRM is the largest railroad museum in the US, all other railroad museums are going to be smaller.

peter
I didn't know that IRM was THE largest railroad museum in the US, myself. Interesting to learn.

BTW, has anyone ever gone to the railroad museum in East Troy, WI(southwest of Milwaukee)? I've always heard a lot about that railroad museum, but had never visited that one. How does it compare, vs. the Illinois Railway Museum? It their railcar collection smaller vs. the IL museum? That wouldn't bother me, if they were smaller vs. the IL museum. I just would like to finally get there, one of these days. Reviews seem decent, from when I skimmed over their Google and Yelp reviews.
Yes, I've been to East Troy a couple times, most recently about a year ago. Unfortunately I have never made it out to Union so I cannot compare it with the Illinois Railway Museum, although I understand Union is far larger with a much more extensive collection. For me at least, the primary appeal of East Troy is less the museum and more the operating interurban equipment. I'm not sure if there are days when the museum is open without running their interurban trains, but if so, I'd suggest trying to avoid those days - not sure it'd be worth the visit simply to see the museum.
It actually wouldn't bother me, if I visited the East Troy museum on a day they were running the interurban trains to nearby Mukwongo. And lol, at those in Mukwongo who complain about the train horns of those interurban trains! At least in one Google review, I really saw that! I'd only ride the interurban train if I had extra time, and would be okay only seeing the museum myself.

Railroad Museum of Long Island in Riverhead NY has a small unique collection of old LIRR rolling stock, including an example of its first attempt at a double decker car - sort of. Reachable by LIRR Greenport Line Riverhead station.

New York Transit Museum in the former Court Street station in Boerum Place in Brooklyn NY is the best transit museum in the country IMHO, reachable easily by Subway Court Street Borough Hall or Jay Street Metro Tech stations.
Looking back to my two NYC trips, I often wonder myself if I should've tried harder to visit the NY Transit Museum? It was one of those goals of places to visit/things to do in NYC that I sadly didn't quite accomplish, along with also riding the 6 subway train past the southern end of that line just so I could see the former City Hall subway station.
 
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