COLORADO MODEL RAILROAD MUSEUM
Education. Inspiration. Joy.
When Dave Trussell opened the Greeley Freight Station Museum in 2009, he knew his hand-built HO scale model railroad was something special. What he didn’t know was that he’d created the largest model railroad of its kind in the world. And that Jim Hediger, senior editor of Model Railroader magazine, would call it the finest he’d ever seen. And that, eight years later, “high-tech immersive experience” would be a far more accurate description at what’s now called the Colorado Model Railroad Museum.
But more than anything – as executive director Michelle Kempema likes to point out – the museum is designed to be fun.
“It’s right there in our mission,” she explains. “Educate, inspire, and bring joy. It’s what guides our actions and activities.”
Kempema and her team have been busy creating new educational exhibits, including one on women in railroading and another on the history of local railroad lines. They’re preserving the story of Denver’s Caboose Hobbies, the world’s largest model train store when it closed its doors in 2016, through a display featuring model railroad products of the past – including vintage wooden kits. And a future exhibit will focus on the use of modern technology in model railroading.
And that immersive experience, says Kempema, affects each visitor in a joyful way.
“It’s on the face of the young girl absorbed in the miniature world; in the smile of the 90-year-old man who remembers his first train ride. And, of course, it’s a big part of the shared enthusiasm of all fans of model railroading.”
Visitors of all ages can find inspiration at the Colorado Model Railroad Museum. Sometimes it’s the scenery and the miniature world; sometimes it’s the mechanics and science. Sometimes it’s simply the trains themselves.
In fact, the museum sees model railroading not as a glance back at the past, but as an avenue for human creativity. “It’s what we call the S.T.E.A.M. experience,” explains Kempema. “Science, technology, engineering, art, and math. We combine all these aspects of innovation and creativity into a canvas of scenery, miniatures, and performance art.”
After all, she says, everything at the museum was touched by an artist’s hand.
680 10th Street, Greeley
For seasonal hours, admission or donations
Daily Dino Hunt
Kids of all ages can win daily prizes for finding a toy dinosaur hidden among the many features in the exhibit.
Harry Potter Themed Day (1st Saturday in January)
Girls Love Trains Too (February)
Burlington Northern Days (2nd weekend in March)
Extreme Trains Weekend (April)
Union Pacific Days (2nd weekend in May)
Dinosaur Days (June)
Star Wars Themed Day (July)
Steam Train Days (August)
Agriculture Days (September)
Rio Grande Days (1st weekend in October)
Holiday Festival of Trains (December)