The Galveston Railroad Museum, located along the Gulf Coast in Galveston, Texas is situated on property once owned by the small railroad, Gulf, Colorado & Santa Fe Railway, purchased by the very big Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway (the AT&SF) in 1965. After the Moody Foundation spared the small railroad’s buildings and infrastructure from an uncertain fate after the AT&SF no longer had use for them the railroad museum was set up and created. Following Hurricane Ike in mid-September 2008, which hit Galveston directly, the museum received severe flooding to its buildings, rolling stock, and exhibits. There was talk of the complex having to be closed but after the organization was able to raise $100,000 it received $3 million in assistance from FEMA ensuring the museum's survival and it is already putting the funds to good use on numerous restoration projects.
While the Galveston Railroad Museum tells the story of Galveston's railroad history it also tells the story of Texas's history with the iron horse. The history of the museum begins after the Moody Foundation saved the buildings in the mid-1960s. Along with the passenger station itself the grounds also included an original Harvey House restaurant, Santa Fe's nearby freight depot, a Railway Express Agency building, and the railroad's carpentry shop. After nearly two decades of work all of these structures were completely restored and opened as the Galveston Railroad Museum in 1982.
Today, the main passenger station house numerous static pieces and the Whistle Stop Cafe while the freight depot features an operating HO-scale model train layout (about 700 square feet in size) and theaters describing the area's history (the REA building also houses theaters used in a similar fashion). Finally, the carpentry shop has been restored to appear as one of Galveston's early passenger trains and is used by the museum for offices. All of the museum's buildings have essentially one main purpose, to help visitors learn about the history of Texas's railroads and the role they played in helping to shape the state and country as a whole.
Today the museum has a vast collection of railroad equipment ranging from ten-wheeler steam locomotives to “covered wagons” and rare Fairbanks-Morse diesels (the museum is also home to numerous historic passenger and freight cars). Along with its equipment the museum hosts train shows and other events. If you are also interested in helping the museum do volunteer work they always need it and I am sure would gladly accept your help! Whatever you are into and enjoy related to railroading you are certain to find it at the Galveston Railroad Museum.
Not only did the the Moody Foundation help the Galveston Railroad Museum by purchasing the former Santa Fe building and Gulf, Colorado & Santa Fe Railway offices, it also helped the museum acquire its collection of rolling stock and locomotives. The museum's collection is far to extensive to list in its entirety here (which includes cabooses, boxcars, flatcars, several passenger cars, maintenance-of-way cars, and much more) although below is listed their collection of steam and diesel locomotives:
* Akron, Canton & Youngstown Railroad Fairbanks-Morse H20-44 #505
* Magma Arizona Railroad 0-6-0 Switcher #5
* Southern Pacific 4-6-0 Ten-Wheeler #314
* Southern Pacific EMD F7A #6309
* Southern Pacific EMD F7A #6379
* US Air Force GE 80-tonner #1673
* Waco, Beaumont, Trinity & Sabine 2-6-2 Prairie #1
To learn more about the Galveston Railroad Museum and planning a visit please click here to visit their website. Finally, the Galveston Railroad Museum offers Boy Scouts the chance to gain their Railroad Merit Badge and can earn their Eagle Scout by doing a project at the facility (with the museum's help, of course). The organization also offers a number of events throughout the year such as the Mardi Gras Parade, model/train shows (mentioned before), and season specials (such as during the Fourth of July, Christmas, and Easter). You can also rent their facilities for special occasions such as birthdays and weddings.
For more reading about Texas railroading you may want to consider a copy of one (or both) of the following books. Texas Trains by author Richard Troxell, who has a serious interest in Texas railroading, gives an in-depth look at the state's railroading history from its earliest beginnings today's operations and gives lots of interesting facts and details throughout the book. If you have any interest in the Lone Star State's railroads you'll very much enjoy the book. Also, for more information and reading about excursion trains and railroad museums you might want to consider picking up Tourist Trains Guidebook from the editors of Kalmbach Publishing's Trains magazine. The book lists and reviews over 400 excursions and museums found throughout the country and is an excellent resource, which has received superb reviews by readers, if you're looking for one to visit. In any event, if you're interested in perhaps purchasing either (or both) of these books please visit the links below which will take you to ordering information through Amazon.com, the trusted online shopping network.