My son loves to visit museums, and frequently requests repeat visits to the butterfly museum, the "museum with the dinosaurs," and the Children's Museum - all of which we've been to many times in his short three years of life. As a result, I'm always on the lookout for new ones to visit, particularly those that fall into the category of being lesser-known museums that offer a little something extra. The Rosenberg Railroad Museum landed on my radar a few months ago, and when we found ourselves with an open morning on a beautiful day, checking it out became a top priority.
First stop: The Museum Gallery
The first attraction at the Rosenberg Railroad Museum is The Museum Gallery, which is a small building modeled after the original depot that houses a plethora of railroad artifacts and pictures. The tour begins with a short cartoon to teach children about the importance of railroad safety in a fun, memorable way, and it easily held my very easily distracted son's attention for its 10-minute duration. After the movie, you can pick up a sheet of pictures for a game of "I Spy" around the Gallery while viewing the display cabinets full of railroad memorabilia. My son loves to play games, and we had a blast hunting for the different objects and signs and checking out the antique equipment together.
Permission to pull all the levers and push all the buttons? DONE.
Next up: Traveling Through the Train Cars
Once we had located all the different artifacts on the "I Spy" sheet, we headed outdoors to begin our official tour, which takes visitors through two fully restored railcars and an original communications building. Our tour began at the end as we walked through the 1972 Mopac Caboose. The traditional red caboose was originally built for the Missouri Pacific Railroad and gives visitors a glimpse into the rolling office and living quarters of the conductor and brakemen.
From there, we walked over to Tower 17, home to the electro-mechanical interlocking system that controlled the railroad signals and switches. Tower 17 was one of the last to be replaced by the modern computer system currently in place and was donated to the museum and restored to its original glory upon its replacement. This interactive feature of the museum was a favorite with my son, and he loved repeatedly pulling out the switches to light up various lights on the switchboard.
Trying his hand at being a Switchboard Operator.
The last of the train cars on the property is the Quebec, which was originally a blue passenger car that later was refashioned into a three bedroom business car complete with a kitchen, dining area, office and observation deck. Walking through the car was like taking a step back in time, and it was interesting to see what used to be the norm for traveling.
Chugging along: H.O. Layout at Education Station
After touring the different train cars, we headed over to H.O. Layout, an insanely detailed model railroad with multiple trains streaking past each other simultaneously along the different tracks. In the middle of the room is a viewing platform for the kiddos to stand on as the trains run and my son was immediately enthralled as he watched the trains wind around the miniature town. The detail in the layout is astounding, and it's apparent how much painstaking care was put into its building.
Wide-eyed wonder at the model trains.
Our tour concluded at the playroom, where we were given free reign to stay and play for as long as we liked... so we did! A room full of toys? Yes, please. I'm pretty sure t's standard knowledge that playing with toys that aren't yours is exponentially more fun than playing with your own toys, and I had to pry my kids away from the playroom as the afternoon crept on and lunchtime called.
There can never be too much playtime!
The grounds the museum is located on are beautiful, and after the tour is over guests are welcome to stay and enjoy a picnic lunch on the tables outside the Quebec car. We walked across the street to Another Time Soda Fountain and picked up lunch to-go - It was the perfect way to wrap up our day at the museum, and eating outdoors by the old-fashioned train cars made our cafe sandwiches extra special.
The perfect property to explore on a beautiful day.
In addition to the actual train cars, there's also a small wooden train called "Wawa's Train" that kids are able to play on and an outdoor Garden Railroad that has large model trains running through it. The museum is situated next to active train tracks and sees anywhere from 30-60 trains pass by every day. And no trip to the museum is complete without giving the bell a few good rings!
Pulling the rope to clang the bell.
The Rosenberg Railroad Museum was an interesting, unique museum to add to our growing list of favorites, and we are definitely looking forward to visiting again soon!
Top image: Playing conductor on Wawa's Train. All photos by Rachael Cherry