Colorado Railroad Museum. Museum in Colorado, United States

Colorado Railroad Museum

Museum in Colorado, United States

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Colorado Railroad Museum

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 - Colorado Railroad
	Museum
Colorado Railroad Museum. Photo by Andy Smith
The Colorado Railroad Museum is a history museum in the town of Golden, Colorado. Established in 1959 at the point where Clear Creek cuts through the South and North Table Mountains, it covers the entire fascinating history of the railroads of Colorado. The museum was set up to preserve the pioneering narrow mountain railroads for which the state was so famous. The museum grounds, which are 15 acres wide, are filled with well-preserved locomotives, carriages, and other steel structures related to the railroad industry. There are more than 100 engines, freight cars, and coaches, a working turntable, and a respected library. Visitors can enjoy special events and go on rides behind old steam locomotives.

Colorado Railroad Museum - Colorado Railroad Museum
Colorado Railroad Museum. Photo by Kathy Stocker

History

The Colorado Railroad Museum was founded in 1959 by Cornelius W. Hauck and Robert W. Richardson (Wikipedia Article) with the goal of preserving the history of Colorado’s flamboyant railroad era and particularly the narrow gauge mountain railroads.

The companies that operated those narrow gauge railroads began going out of business at the end of the 1940s and in the 1950s due to falling ore prices and rising operating expenses. Major companies that shut down were the Uintah Railway Company, the Rio Grande Junction, the Midland Terminal, and the Rio Grande Southern. This was when Robert W. Richardson started collecting records, pieces of equipment and rolling stock in an attempt to preserve this invaluable part of Colorado’s history. He kept everything at his own museum in Alamosa (Wikipedia
	Article), but that soon became too small. He moved everything to Golden with the help of his friend Cornelius W. Hauck.

In Golden, the two guys built a replica narrow gauge railroad station that functioned as the main museum building. Helped by volunteers, they then began laying railroad tracks for about fifty pieces of equipment. In addition to the Colorado Railroad Museum, they also built a motel nearby, which would help fund the museum. The hotel is now gone, though, and replaced by the Roundhouse.

The museum’s collection grew and grew in the 1970s and 1980s, mainly by purchasing new equipment to display, but also through donations of volunteers and railroad fanatics. The library was finished in 1997, the track loop completed in 1999 and the roundhouse and turntable were ready by 2000.

 - Colorado Railroad
	Museum
Colorado Railroad Museum. Photo by Andy Smith

Collections

The museum’s collection consists of a large number of narrow gauge (three-foot wide) rolling equipment, tracks, switches and buildings. It is meant to resemble a small town railroad depot in the Colorado of the 1880s, the heydays of the railroad industry in the west of the United States.

Depot Museum

The Depot Museum is housed in a replica of a railroad depot from the 1880s. It features thousands of original photographs from pioneer photographers, paintings; 1-inch-to-1-foot models of locomotives and cars, a reconstructed telegraph office; an operating model train layout. The Roundhouse and the fully functioning Turntable are major highlights as well.

Locomotives

The museum’s locomotives are displayed on railroad tracks. These massive steel behemoths are a real sight to behold; the Denver and Rio Grande Western RR No. 683 dating from 1890 is the flagship of the locomotive collection.

Little Red
	Caboose - Colorado Railroad Museum
Little Red Caboose - Colorado Railroad Museum. Photo by Andy Smith

Cabooses

Cabooses were used as mobile offices, kitchens and bunkrooms and housed the conductors, brakemen and other workers. There are several of these once extremely useful cars on display.

Passenger, Business and Freight Cars

The museum has dozens of various passenger cars, formerly owned by several railroad companies. They offer a great insight into what it must have been like to travel long distances by train in the late 19th century. The variety in freight cars is even larger; the shape of those cars depended on what they were meant to transport.

Snow Plows

A necessity in mountainous regions, snow plows are on displays as well. There are the well-known wedge plows, but also rotary snow plows, which were only used in the most severe conditions.

Visiting the Colorado Railroad Museum

In addition to impressive railroad equipment, the Colorado Railroad Museum also has a gift shop, a library, and organizes train rides for young and old.

The museum is open every day of the year from 9 a0 feet to 5 p0 feet, except on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. On Easter Sunday it is open from 1 p0 feet to 5 p0 feet; on Christmas Eve from 9 a0 feet to 1 p0 feet; and on New Year’s Eve also from 9 a0 feet to 1 p0 feet

General admission is $ 10 USD for adults, $ 8.00 USD for people older than 60, and $ 5.00 USD for children between 2 and 15. Children younger than 2 can enter for free.

 - Colorado Railroad
	Museum
Colorado Railroad Museum. Photo by Kathy Stocker

How to Get There

The Colorado Railroad Museum is situated only twelve miles west of the city center of Denver. It can be reached by car by following Interstate 70, taking exit 265 onto Colorado Highway 58 and then following the signs to the museum.

Similar and Nearby Landmarks

Other interesting landmarks in the vicinity of Denver are the Red Rocks Amphitheatre, the Mount Evans Scenic Byway, and the majestic Rocky Mountains.

Elsewhere in Colorado, Pikes Peak, Dinosaur National Monument, and the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park are absolutely worth a visit as well.

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Author: bramreusen. Last updated: Feb 19, 2015

Pictures of Colorado Railroad Museum

Restoration room - Colorado Railroad Museum
Restoration room - Colorado Railroad Museum. Photo by Robert Kash

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