The size of the equipment, the sounds—there’s just something about trains that kids connect with,” says Matthew Isaacks, multimedia coordinator for the Colorado Railroad Museum. This kid-friendly museum focused on preserving Colorado’s railroad era started in Alamosa in 1959 with a few pieces of equipment. Decades later, the nonprofit, now in Golden, displays more than 100 pieces of historic railroad equipment, including narrow and standard gauge steam and diesel locomotives, passenger cars and cabooses—all packed into a 15-acre rail yard.
“We”re one of about 10 locations in the U.S. currently operating steam locomotives,” adds Isaacks. “We have a fleet of four operational diesel locomotives.” Special “Galloping Goose” motorcars are used for daily 15-minute train rides looping around museum grounds. Rides operate from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and train tickets can be purchased at the door. In addition to riding passenger cars from various eras, children can jump inside stationary cabooses, and blow the bells on some of the engines.
When the ride is over, swing by the Roundhouse, a restoration facility where curious kiddos can watch experts work on trains. “This is lots of fun,” Isaacks says, noting that there’s even a working turntable.
Next up is the Depot Building, featuring a rotating line-up of interior and exterior exhibits where families learn everything they”ve ever wanted to know about the Rocky Mountain rail. There are two primary exhibit galleries that typically host three or four exhibits at a time. Current and upcoming exhibit schedules are listed online.
The lower level of the museum’s main building boasts miniature train sets from the HO Model Railroad Club and the Denver Garden Railway Society. There’s also a renowned research library containing rare records. Each month, children ages 4 to 6 are invited to participate in a storytime and craft. Chug-a-choo through on June 21 at 10 a.m. for a freight train-themed morning. On your way out, visit the Depot General Store for oodles of train-related gifts.
Each September, Thomas the Tank Engine visits and during the winter holiday season families can experience the Polar Express Train Ride.
Check it Out: Located at 17155 W. 44th Ave., Golden
Need to Know: Open daily, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m
Admission: $5 for kids; $10 for adults; train tickets start at $2 per ride.
Don’t Miss: June 18 is Steampunk at the Station Day. Steam engines create a perfect backdrop for the sub-genre of science fiction known as steampunk. Come out in your finest steampunk attire for themed activities and a concert at 6 p.m. in the newly constructed picnic pavilion.