Old 11-20-2009, 08:18 PM   #1
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Default Best RR Museums in the US

What are the best RR museums around the country? I mean like real places like the Illinois Railway museum not @#$% like the National (what nation? I hope you're not talking about mine.) Railroad Museum. How are Steamtown, the Monticello Railway Museum, the UPRR museum, and others?
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Old 11-20-2009, 09:38 PM   #2
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Depends on what you're looking for in a railroad museum. The California State Railroad Museum is cool if you're looking for the story of building a railroad - that's definitely the emphasis there over equipment, although they have some of that too. I think the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania has the best equipment display, even if the locos outside aren't always in the best of shape - their outside equipment is still better off than lots of the stuff at, say, the Virginia Museum of Transportation or Steamtown. The Railroader's Memorial Museum in Altoona, PA does an excellent job of telling the story of the workers on the railroad if your interested in social history. Just my thoughts on the matter . . .

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Old 11-20-2009, 09:42 PM   #3
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The Western Pacific Railroad Museum in Portola, CA is a fantastic place to visit, rent and operate locomotives, and examine all different types of railroad cars and locos. It's located in a beautiful area and well worth spending a day or more there. I highly recommend it and plan to operate a variety of engines on my next visit.
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Old 11-20-2009, 09:48 PM   #4
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Like Jon said, it all depends on what you're into.

The Illinois Railway Museum and the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania are my two favorites. The amount of stuff that I saw at IRM was pretty incredible, and they seem to do a great job keeping much of their fleet in running condition. Their signal displays were also really nice, and although I'm not a huge traction fan they certainly had quite a collection of that as well. The Railroad Museum of PA is also pretty good. Although they lack operating equipment, they still have a nice amount of engines and cars there. With the Strasburg Railroad across the street you don't have to go very far to see operating steam engines either.

Steamtown is pretty good, although the equipment there is not as well kept as much of the stuff at the other two museums mentioned previously. That said, Steamtown does a much better job at telling the story of railroading as a whole (it would be a better place to bring your whole family compared to IRM or the RR Museum of PA). Additionally, there's usually a working steam engine or two around during peak times, and relatively long excursions are run several times a year.

I've never been to CSRM, but if I ever make it out that way it sounds like a must-visit.
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Old 11-20-2009, 10:25 PM   #5
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RR museum of Penna and Steamtown are definetly 2 of the best, I give good nods to the North Carolina Trans Museum in Spencer and the Virginia Trans Museum in Roanoke are good too. The one in Chattanooga, TN is not good at all (TVRM?) although their train ride is good and scenic, especially when they have steam power. The Virginia Transportation museum is good IMHO not based on their non-locomotive content, but they have a good collection of locomotives you just cant see anywhere else, including the 611 and 1218. I have not been to the Illinois RY mus, but hear its good.

Edit: my one complaint of the RR museum of Pennsylvania is that they try to do too much in too little of a space. They have a LOT of equipment crammed into a very small (relatively speaking) area and it seems cramped and confined. Photo angles are terrible to impossible, but its the only place you can see some of the stuff they have there, especially the ONLY E7A left in existance. I'm not sure why they waste floor space for a Conrail painted GP30 though.

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Old 11-20-2009, 11:39 PM   #6
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Quote:
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Photo angles are terrible to impossible, but its the only place you can see some of the stuff they have there, especially the ONLY E7A left in existance. I'm not sure why they waste floor space for a Conrail painted GP30 though.
Two things. First, the purpose of the museum is, for better or for worse, to display the artifacts in its collection - not to present a ready made photo shoot. The more of their collection they can get indoors, the better as far as preserving it. If that makes it impossible to get the perfect 3/4 wedgie, oh well. Second, they "waste" floor space for a Conrail GP30 because it is, after all, the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, and Conrail is the direct descendant, in many respects, of the Pennsylvania Railroad - not to mention the fact that it also included many of the other major PA lines (Reading, Lehigh, etc.). So, telling the story of Pennsylvania railroads definitely has to include Conrail.

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Old 11-21-2009, 12:19 AM   #7
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Quote:
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First, the purpose of the museum is, for better or for worse, to display the artifacts in its collection - not to present a ready made photo shoot.
Actually, the Railroad Museum of PA is laid out fine for a photo shoot.

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Old 11-21-2009, 01:00 AM   #8
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Actually, the Railroad Museum of PA is laid out fine for a photo shoot.
Sure when they move things around and stage them like in your examples.

I agree with the previous poster about the intent of the museaum, but was making a point.
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Old 11-21-2009, 01:31 AM   #9
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I'm surprised noone has mentioned the B&O museum in Baltimore, MD. While I have not had the chance to visit the museum, it's always the chatter around here (So. Central West Virginia). Quite a few railfans will take their children there to view the various pieces of unique and historic machinery, and they never seem to be disappointed. I'm not sure of their layout (as far as photography is concerned), but it may be worth checking out. I've attached a link to their website which lists their complete (or almost near complete) roster of locomotives, rolling stock, and so on.

http://www.borail.org/index.shtml

http://www.borail.org/collections-locomotives.shtml

Hope this helps,
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Old 11-21-2009, 01:41 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chase55671 View Post
I'm surprised noone has mentioned the B&O museum in Baltimore, MD.
Oops! A shout out to my shot from there, four more views now, maybe!

Image © Janusz Mrozek
PhotoID: 264941
Photograph © Janusz Mrozek


Seriously, it is a nice museum. It has some of the oldest equipment in the country. Like many museums, they have more stuff than they can deal with and there is a lot of really interesting stuff just occupying track space nose to nose. They have a nice, but small, freight car display also. I would have more shots on RP from there but the outdoor light was poor last time I went up. They have a neat little model RR, unexceptional but for the operating CPLs, nice touch. The covered roundhouse is a gem, the engine house nice except waaay cramped with equipment.
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Old 11-21-2009, 04:01 AM   #11
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I just signed up to volunteer at the Minnesota Transportation Museum in Saint Paul, which has a nice pile of diesels, including the Hustle Muscle.

The museum in Duluth is top notch as well.
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Old 11-21-2009, 04:40 AM   #12
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Another museum I forgot to mention was the KRM (Kentucky Rail Museum). While I'm not certain how many locomotives/rolling stock they own, I always enjoy viewing Alex Moss' photos on the KRM. Below are some examples..

Image © Alex Moss
PhotoID: 301974
Photograph © Alex Moss


Image © Alex Moss
PhotoID: 300115
Photograph © Alex Moss


Image © Alex Moss
PhotoID: 266015
Photograph © Alex Moss


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Old 11-22-2009, 12:36 AM   #13
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I've always been a fan of the North Carolina Transportation Museum. They have an awesome collection of locomotives, rolling stock and artifacts that are kept in mint condition (for the most part like most museums). Although not as authentic as the East Broad Top or Nevada Northern, the museum is located at the ex-Southern shops/roundhouse/yard in Spencer, NC and still gives you a sense of history with the back shop and storage tanks still standing. Unlike places like Steamtown that seem to "settle" with what they have where they have it, NCTM is always trying to improve, either by adding or changing the layout of track or arranging displays in more pleasing ways.
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Old 11-22-2009, 12:52 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chase55671 View Post
I'm surprised noone has mentioned the B&O museum in Baltimore, MD.
I totally forgot about that. I have not been there since they rebuilt the roof. Sometime a few years ago, the roof collapsed, and supposedly some equipment was damaged. Most of the actual equipment was always stored outside, so I am not sure what damage actually occurred. They do have a nice collection of B&O and C&O steam, as well as some diesels and rolling stock.

One thing, it is in the ghetto in the middle of a dangerous neighborhood (as most of Baltimore is). The museum itself is fenced in, has its own contained parking lot (safe), but dont venture outside the confines on foot. The museum has a bunch of non-display ready equipment outside of the museum grounds on a siding (including a GG1, and some other stuff) but its taking your life in your own hands if you want to get to it.
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Old 11-22-2009, 01:45 AM   #15
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Quote:
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The museum has a bunch of non-display ready equipment outside of the museum grounds on a siding (including a GG1, and some other stuff) but its taking your life in your own hands if you want to get to it.
I am pretty sure but not certain that equipment is now within the confines of museum property, including a relatively new structure a good ways west of the museum area, maybe a mile. For a while it sat in what is called Mt. Claire A yard, which is under I-95; the museum area was, waaay back, known also as Mt. Claire D yard.
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Old 11-24-2009, 01:24 AM   #16
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Lake Superior Railroad Museum in Duluth, MN. Some shots I have taken of museum equipment:

Although owned by the Great Northern Railway Historical Society, the LSRM was the #400's home for about 10 years, from 1990 to around 2000, and it just recently returned "home" this summer, and will hopefully be back next year.

Image © Max Medlin
PhotoID: 293957
Photograph © Max Medlin

Image © Max Medlin
PhotoID: 297267
Photograph © Max Medlin

Image © Max Medlin
PhotoID: 296981
Photograph © Max Medlin


Permanently stored is the freshly hand painted Duluth South Shore and Atlanic RS-1 #101:
Image © Max Medlin
PhotoID: 297097
Photograph © Max Medlin

Image © Max Medlin
PhotoID: 297096
Photograph © Max Medlin

Image © Max Medlin
PhotoID: 304921
Photograph © Max Medlin


A very rare DM&IR SD-18 #193:
Image © Max Medlin
PhotoID: 276726
Photograph © Max Medlin


A Missabe Railroad Historical Society owned DM&IR SD-M, the only preserved in the world(and Kale too!):
Image © Max Medlin
PhotoID: 302350
Photograph © Max Medlin


A nice set of the fabled Erie Mining F9's, in continous operation from 1956 to 2007:
Image © Max Medlin
PhotoID: 293354
Photograph © Max Medlin


Here are some other shots of our equipment, not my shots though:

In 2005 the Soo Line GP30 #700 was repainted:
Image © Dan Mackey
PhotoID: 139085
Photograph © Dan Mackey

Image © Dan Mackey
PhotoID: 195409
Photograph © Dan Mackey

Image © Kevin The Krazy 1
PhotoID: 276189
Photograph © Kevin The Krazy 1


The very rare Great Northern NW-5 #192, the only one preserved:
Image ©
PhotoID:
Photograph ©

Image © Jeff Terry
PhotoID: 157941
Photograph © Jeff Terry


Of course we have F's! Former EMD Demonstrator, the Soo Line FP7 #2500 and afore mentioned Erie Mining F9's #4211 and #4222:
Image © Shawn Christie
PhotoID: 298017
Photograph © Shawn Christie

Image © Michael Burlaga
PhotoID: 296483
Photograph © Michael Burlaga

Image © Jeff Terry
PhotoID: 195831
Photograph © Jeff Terry


Some other pieces of our collection, yup thats our SD45:
Image © Dan Mackey
PhotoID: 297839
Photograph © Dan Mackey

Image © Dave Schauer
PhotoID: 297104
Photograph © Dave Schauer


Did I mention steam?! Soo Line 4-6-2 #2719:
Image © Missabefan
PhotoID: 302541
Photograph © Missabefan

Image © Jeff Terry
PhotoID: 294001
Photograph © Jeff Terry


As you can see the rail line this equipment is operated on offers great photo opportunities, especially when we run coal trains, how any museums do you see do this?:
Image © Dave Schauer
PhotoID: 284665
Photograph © Dave Schauer

Image © Scott Carney
PhotoID: 303391
Photograph © Scott Carney

Image © christophersmuller.com
PhotoID: 285166
Photograph © christophersmuller.com

Image © Scott Carney
PhotoID: 275536
Photograph © Scott Carney


Rollby's to CN trains? Check!:
Image © Scott Parker
PhotoID: 64204
Photograph © Scott Parker


We also put together great Railfan Weekend events, here are a few highlights over the years:
Image © Shawn Christie
PhotoID: 298022
Photograph © Shawn Christie

Image © Jeff Terry
PhotoID: 297218
Photograph © Jeff Terry

Image © Jeff Terry
PhotoID: 157940
Photograph © Jeff Terry

Image © J L Huddleston
PhotoID: 92123
Photograph © J L Huddleston

Image © Jeff Terry
PhotoID: 127710
Photograph © Jeff Terry

Image © Jeff Terry
PhotoID: 127708
Photograph © Jeff Terry

Image © Dave Schauer
PhotoID: 196530
Photograph © Dave Schauer


Special Events:
Image © Dan Mackey
PhotoID: 264337
Photograph © Dan Mackey


We even have a P42!...(ok maybe not):
Image © Scott Carney
PhotoID: 189142
Photograph © Scott Carney


I apologize if I went overboard but if im gonna sell you I might as well sell you!
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Old 11-24-2009, 02:47 AM   #17
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Excellent job selling the LSRM Max! I give the place two thumbs up.

Great photo locations of great railroad equipment. No matter your fancy-Diesel or Steam.

Image © Missabefan
PhotoID: 287300
Photograph © Missabefan

Image © Missabefan
PhotoID: 297852
Photograph © Missabefan

Image © Missabefan
PhotoID: 297820
Photograph © Missabefan

Image © Missabefan
PhotoID: 297799
Photograph © Missabefan


And only a few miles away and "up" a bit are these possibilities.

Image © Missabefan
PhotoID: 295104
Photograph © Missabefan

Image © Missabefan
PhotoID: 287450
Photograph © Missabefan

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PhotoID: 287424
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Old 11-27-2009, 02:00 PM   #18
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Illinois Railway Museum in Union, Illinois.
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Old 11-27-2009, 02:54 PM   #19
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The Illinois Railway Museum is the best I've been to, and Steam Town is alright if you're into steam. But a bit of heads up: The Mad River & NKP Museum at Bellevue isn't really worth paying for IMO. There's equipment on display inside and outside the areas that you have to pay to get in. The only really interesting things in the pay-to-enter section are a pair of NKP GeeP's and a Wabash F7. So if you plan to go to Bellevue, plan to go there for NS not the museum.
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Old 11-28-2009, 12:32 AM   #20
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Rochester and Genesee Valley rrm is a local operation. They operate countless GE and Alco switchers, trolleys, and they own 2 or 3 steamers that are currently being restored. Their passenger car collection is phenominal too, not to mention the depot, rolling stock and trackcars.
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Old 12-19-2009, 01:59 AM   #21
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Well the North Carolina Transportation Museum has the most displays. It also sits next to Norfolk Sothernís Atlanta-Washington mainline. They have a working and operable dispatcherís board and roundhouse. As long as you don't go on a weekend you won't get ran over by screaming brats.

I think the NCTM is the most bang for the buck.
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Old 12-20-2009, 05:59 AM   #22
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I'm not to sure of the name, but I quite like that Railroad Museum along the Feather River Route which has a nice collection of Diesels; DD40X, UPRR GP30 and numerous F's. But I agree with most of you; IRM, SteamTown & LSRM would be the best I've seen on VHS, DVD & Photo's. I also like the California Railroad Museum, as it shows the History of Noryh American Railroading, and also the Cab Forward on display. One other I like is the Utah State Railroad Museum, as that's the new home of D&RGW SD40T-2 #5371. A big thanks to UPRR for donating her.

All the others I've just read (above), or viewed in members photo's, don't really catch my eye, but I suppose if I see it in person, my mind would change.
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Old 12-21-2009, 04:13 AM   #23
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Kentucky Railway Museum located in New Haven,KY is a "Unique" & "Different" railroad museum, Just like any other museum out there.

Kentucky Railway Museum runs Louisville & Nashville #152(4-6-2 Pacific) locomotive on select weekends throughout the year.
Image © Alex Moss
PhotoID: 301813
Photograph © Alex Moss

Image © JL Scott
PhotoID: 301717
Photograph © JL Scott

Image © Alex Moss
PhotoID: 300116
Photograph © Alex Moss


They also run ATSF #2546 Which is a EMD CF-7
Image © Alex Moss
PhotoID: 305667
Photograph © Alex Moss


Kentucky Railway Museum has alot of different equipment, Some displayed & some operational. KRM also runs a 11 miles of track.

For more information, You can visit www.kyrail.org
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Old 12-21-2009, 06:40 AM   #24
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Quote:
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I'm not to sure of the name, but I quite like that Railroad Museum along the Feather River Route which has a nice collection of Diesels; DD40X, UPRR GP30 and numerous F's.
I believe you're thinking of Portola, CA and the Western Pacific Railroad Museum.

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PhotoID: 204526
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Image © Bill Hough
PhotoID: 204530
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Image © Bill Hough
PhotoID: 204518
Photograph © Bill Hough

Image © Paul Carr
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Old 12-22-2009, 02:44 AM   #25
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Thanks Chris, yep that's the one I was meaning. I never quite knew what the name was.

Oops, I forgot to mention the Colorado Railroad Museum would be another favourite of mine, nice collection of both Narrow Gauge & Standard Gauge Railroad equipment. But for me, the best thing about this place is that they have 5771 (F9A) on display. Famous for the RGZ.
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