Whether you spent hours as a kid watching your model train navigate between Styrofoam mountains and buildings, or you simply marvel at the grandeur and old world elegance of real life trains of the past, you’ll enjoy a fascinating experience at the Galveston Railroad Museum.
Located at 2602 Santa Fe Place between 26th and 28th streets, the museum was founded in 1983 and has developed into one of the largest restored railroad collections in the country, including over 40 engines, cabooses, box cars and vintage dining cars in its rolling stock collection. It’s really like that old Lionel or HO-scale train set you joyously unwrapped on Christmas morning years ago come to life!
The museum’s curators have painstakingly worked to transform the vast museum building into a time capsule from the days when trains were not just relegated to hauling oil and lumber, but were also state-of-the-art lavish modes of transportation. From the meticulous detail of the recreation of a mid-20th century train station lobby, to the exhibits featuring a variety of railroading memorabilia, to the mind-blowing exactness of the model train layouts, no stone has been left unturned in the pursuit of capturing the amazing history of railroads.
The stars of the rolling stock include the legendary Santa Fe Warbonnet engines that were once the epitome of locomotive design and beauty with their red, yellow and silver livery. There are also some examples of the long-departed caboose, including a gorgeous Southern Pacific model, along with the stately and regal Southern Railroad dining car and marvelous Waco, Beaumont, Trinity, Sabine Railway locomotives from the 1950s. The museum is also home to handcars reminiscent of an old TV western.
But the Railroad Museum is also a premium location to hold a birthday party, wedding or company event. The staff can transform the opulent grand hall into an elegant dining hall for a celebration your guests won’t soon forget. Don’t make the mistake of thinking holding a birthday party at the museum is simply kid stuff. Plenty of grown-ups will jump at the chance to celebrate your special day with wide-eyed wonder.
On Saturdays, the staff rolls out the Harborside Express train for rides down Harborside Drive and back to the station. It’s a great opportunity to bask in the “clickety-clack” of steel wheels on steels rails as you wave to the passing motorists.
Even if you’re not a devotee of railroad history, the Galveston Railroad Museum provides a fantastic look back at a time when trains were more than just utilitarian beasts of burden and inspired wonder and imagination.