The National Railroad Museum (NRM)

The National Railroad Museum (NRM, reporting  mark NRMX), is located in Ashwaubenon, Wisconsin, a suburb of Green Bay and is one of the oldest such institutions in the country with its earliest beginnings dating back to 1956. It's interesting that this museum began as an endeavor to preserve a single steam locomotive in a local city park and has since snowballed into an organization that was recognized by Congress in 1958 as the National Railroad Museum.  Today, its collection features several dozen locomotives and even more rolling stock. In recent years the NRM came under fire for its handling of their most famous piece of equipment, Milwaukee Road 4-8-4 #261. Leased by the Friend of the 261 since 1993 and operated on countless excursions it was in danger of being placed on permanent display until the museum decided to simply sell the locomotive to the group.

A bird's eye view of the National Railroad Museum's Victor McCormick Train Pavilion, on the left, and Frederick J. Lenfestey Center, on the right.

The National Railroad Museum is based in Ashwaubenon, Wisconsin (near Green Bay) and was founded in 1956 by the locals of Green Bay who were interested in establishing a museum dedicated to the general history of American railroads and how they have helped grow and shape this great country. By 1958 the organization had gathered enough momentum to have Congress recognize it as the country's official railroad museum and provide it with needed funding. Property for the organization was located in southern Green Bay and their first display piece was Milwaukee Road 4-8-4 #261. Since then, the NRM has amassed quite a collection of steam and diesel locomotives, freight and passenger cars, and numerous other pieces of railroad memorabilia.  Aside from the NRM's large, and growing collection it also features interactive and static displays (such as an entire room of original passenger train drumheads from various railroads around the country) in its indoor facilities.

The organization's noted locomotive collection includes the following units:

Diesel Locomotives

Chicago, Burlington & Quincy SD24 #510

Georgia-Pacific S2 #63-146 (Built as South Buffalo Railway #73)

Georgia-Pacific S2 #63-180 (Built as Fairport, Painesville & Eastern #103)

Green Bay & Western C430 #315

Green Bay & Western S1 #103 (Built as Manistique & Lake Superior #1)

Green Bay & Western S6 #106 (Built as Southern Pacific #1203)

Milwaukee Road E9A #38A

Milwaukee Road H10-44 #767

Minneapolis & St. Louis NW1 #D538

Rock Island/General Motors' Aerotrain trainset #2 (Locomotive only)

Soo Line (Wisconsin Central) GP30 #715

St. Paul Union Depot GE 44-Ton #441

U.S. Army center-cab #106

U.S. Army RSD-1 #8651

Electric Locomotives

Pennsylvania Railroad GG-1 #4890

The NRM's sole electric locomotive, one of the Pennsylvania's famous and fast GG-1's, #4890, housed indoors.

Steam Locomotives

Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe 2-10-4 #5017 (Built by Baldwin in 1944)

Chesapeake & Ohio Class K-4 "Kanawha" 2-8-4 #2736 (Built by Lima in 1925)

Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range Class E-1 2-10-2 #506 (Built by Alco's Brook Works in 1919)

Ely-Thomas Lumber Company 2-Truck Shay #5 (Built by Lima in 1917)

Lake Superior & Ishpeming Class SC-4 2-8-0 #24 (Built by Alco's Pittsburgh Works in 1910)

London & North Eastern Railway Class A-4 4-6-2 #60008, Dwight D. Eisenhower (Built by the Doncaster Works of Doncaster, South Yorkshire, England in 1937)

McCloud River Railroad 2-6-2 #9 (Operational, built by Baldwin in 1901)

Minneapolis, St. Paul & Sault Ste. Marie Railroad (Soo Line) Class H-23 4-6-2 #2718  (Built by Alco's Schenectady Works in 1924)  

Sumter & Choctaw Railway 2-8-2 #102 (Built by Baldwin in 1924)

U.S. Army 2-8-0 "General Pershing" #101 (Built by Baldwin in 1917)

Union Pacific 4-8-8-4 "Big Boy" #4017 (Built by Alco in 1942)

W.F. Carey 0-4-0T #29 (Built in 1923 by Alco's Cooke Works)

The National Railroad Museum has also drawn criticism over the years for the handling of its collection, some of which is in rather poor condition exposed and rusting away to the elements outdoors.  They also drew ire during the Milwaukee Road #261 negotiations in 2009 that nearly witnessed the big 4-8-4 returned to display status rather than remaining operational and hosting excursions by the Friends Of The 261.  Thankfully, this fate did not befall the Northern as the Friends acquired ownership of the locomotive in May of 2010 for $225,000 and it returned to service a few years later.  In any event, aside from the drumheads other features include an operating model railroad, an observation tower, and a short stretch of track that hosts train rides, including the very popular Day Out with Thomas event for kids.  By request, NRM also fields a large collection of photographs and other historic documents. 

Here we see U.S. Army 2-8-0 "General Pershing" Consolidation #101, originally built for service in France but never left the States.

 All in all, if you have the chance, a visit to the National Railroad Museum is one of the must-see such institutions in the country.  Given the National Railroad Museum's size it is somewhat surprising that they do not either operate their own excursion train or have one located nearby (such as the case with the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania). In any event, the NRM does have two very nice indoor facilities, the Victor McCormick Train Pavilion and the Frederick J. Lenfestey Center, which houses most of their restored pieces. Aside from their exhibits and collections the museum also has activities available for youngsters including educational field trips hosted during April and also offers the Railroading Merit Badge for Boy Scouts, which are normally held during the fall each year.  For more information about the National Railroad Museum and planning a visit please click here to visit their website.

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