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If you were born before 1960, you probably remember the sound of a steam locomotive chug-chug-chugging in the distance and the woo - woo of the steam whistle. As the railroads switched from steam engines to diesel locomotives during the 1950s, many train museums began popping up all over the US to preserve the history of the railroads and the role that they played in the development of the country.
Illinois Railway Museum - Union IL (near Chicago) - the country's largest railroad museum. The museum has been in operation since the 1950s and tells the story of the role trains and the railroad have played in the growth of the city of Chicago and surrounding area as well as the entire United States. The museum campus is quite large and it can take a while to explore it all. There are eleven storage barns that contain approximately 3 miles of covered tracks, a steam engine restoration shop, a train depot dating back to 1853, four streetcar stations, a collection of neon and concrete signs, a large number of trains, and more. Train rides are offered in the summer on both electric and diesel trains. Another Video of the Illinois Railway Museum.
California State Railroad Museum - Sacramento CA - a state-managed museum that tells the story of the railroad's role in connecting California to the rest of the country. The museum houses more than 20 restored locomotive engines and railroad cars, some of which date all the way back to 1862.
Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania - Strasburg PA - The museum's holdings include more than 100 pieces of rolling stock and historic locomotives that tell the story of the history of the railroad in the United States. The museum features several interactive exhibits, including one that allows visitors to simulate driving a real freight locomotive.
Travel Town Museum - Los Angeles CA - in the Griffith Park, Forrest Lawn, LA Zoo area. An outdoor museum which preserves and celebrates the railroad heritage of the western United States - its history and its artifacts. Particular thematic emphasis is placed on the history of Southern California and how the railroads aided its development.
Colorado Railway Museum - Golden CO a non-profit museum started in 1959 to preserve the history of Colorado's railroad era. The museum has a special concentration on the development of steep, narrow gauge railroads in the Colorado mountains. The main museum building is modeled after 1880s railroad depots.
Danbury Railway Museum - Danbury CT - located in the former Union Station, focusing on the history of the railroad in New York and the southern part of New England. The building features interesting architecture and appeared in Alfred Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train.
Galesburg Railroad Museum - Galesburg IL - Many of the items in the museum are related to the Burlington Northern Railroad Company, which was the largest in the country in the 1970s. Some of the most interesting engines and rail cars held by the museum include a mail car from the railway post office and a Pullman "Meath" rail car.
Museum of the American Railroad - Frisco TX - This museum is popular among train enthusiasts because it lets you get quite close to the equipment and walk through many pieces.
National Railroad Museum - Ashwaubenon WI (near Green Bay) - founded in 1956, this is one of the oldest railroad museums in the country. The museum has a large collection of rolling stock that represents more than a hundred years of railroad history. There are a number of significant historical locomotives such as the Union Pacific Big Boy No. 4017, which is one of the largest in the world.
Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum - North Judson IN - located in a building that was formerly owned by the Erie Railroad. The museum has a variety of rolling stock, including a historical steam locomotive from the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway. During the warmer months, the museum also offers train rides.
Mid-Continent Railway Museum - North Freedom WI - The museum has a number of permanent displays and also hosts train rides aboard preserved historical trains. The exhibits primarily focus on the history of the railroad from the upper Midwest around the turn of the 20th century. There are three steam locomotives that are being restored as well as a number of other steam and diesel locomotives and more than 100 other pieces of rolling stock on display. The museum also has a large collection of wooden passenger cars, which is the largest of its type in the country
Monticello Railway Museum - Champaign IL - a non-profit railway museum with more than 100 pieces of historic railroad equipment, including a number of restored diesel locomotives and a variety of rail cars.
Northwest Railway Museum - Snoqualmie WA (near Seattle) - The museum consists of the 1890s Snoqualmie Depot as well as several miles of track from the former Northern Pacific Railway. The railway museum was founded in the 1950s to educate the public about the role of railroads in the growth of the region as well as the lifestyle and excitement surrounding railroad work. The museum holds a number of interesting rail cars and locomotives dating from the 1880s to the middle of the 20th century. They also operate a 5-mile heritage railroad, where visitors can ride along on a train excursion during the summer.
The Nevada Northern Railway Museum - Ely Nevada - Track for the Nevada Northern Railway was laid over a century ago, connecting one of the largest copper mines in North America to the Transcontinental routes to the North. Today, several of the original coal-fired standard-gauge steam locomotives that were ordered and delivered new to the railroad over a century ago are still in operation! The Nevada Northern Railway is the best-preserved example of a standard-gauge short-line left in North America. - suggested by J Martenson - NV.