Colorado Railroad Museum

There's something amazing about trains. Visitors from around the world experience it at the Colorado Railroad Museum with over 100 narrow and standard gauge steam and diesel locomotives, passenger cars, cabooses. Your donation helps preserve these important pieces of Colorado Railroad history and continue to tell the stories of the people who worked and rode on Colorado railroads.

Donate Now

Add to My Favorites

Post to

Organizational Overview

Colorado Railroad Museum
17155 West 44th Avenue
Golden, CO 80403
The mission of the Colorado Railroad Museum is to preserve and convey the rich history of railroading in the Rocky Mountain region through acquisition, research, exhibition, and education.

The Museum recently relocated a Union Pacific Diner(1949) coupled with a Union Pacific Passenger Coach (1949) to a permanent prominent location. The imminent installation of power, sewer and water will allow the Diner and Passenger coach to be used for interpretation and revenue generation as a venue for historic interpreted railroad dining experiences and as a much needed meeting space.
Join us for our popular adult lecture series - "Rails and Cocktails" that entertains and educates on a variety of Colorado Railroad history topics.

Our educational programs are expanding, and in 2016, we will offer the first ever Summer Day Camps designed to inspire and educate children about the place of the railroads in Colorado history. In the next year we will focus on creating hands-on activities and exhibits that enhance the museum collections and are designed for school groups and family groups, with an emphasis on learning through play and exploration.

RGS Locomotive No. 20 has undergone a nearly $1.5 million dollar restoration back to service and will be sent back to the Museum in Summer of 2016 for completion.

D&RGW Locomotive No. 346 (1881), has been the mainstay for steam-up events will require major maintenance in 2017. Steam Locomotive No. 491 was restored back to service and is ready to switch off with No. 346 as our "go to" engine for "Day Out With Thomas" and "Polar Express."

Operations/ Events

The Museum now can pull historically accurate varnish trains with only operating K-37 locomotive - Locomotive 491 is the only 100% Colorado built (K-37 ) locomotive engineered, constructed, and assembled in Denver and Englewood.
The Museum brought the very popular Polar Express event to the Denver Metro Area two years ago. Based on the best-selling book by Chris Van Allsburg and the blockbuster Warner Bros. movie, the Polar Express tells the story of a boy on Christmas Eve who boards a train filled with other children on a magical journey to the North Pole. Once there, the boy is chosen to by Santa to receive the first gift of Christmas. He chooses a bell from one of the reindeer's harnesses. The Museum's theatrical production replicates the journey and the adventures along the way. This event is a perennial sellout, and a popular holiday event for families with young children!

In an effort to reach beyond our traditional audiences, the Colorado Railroad Museum will be hosting an exciting new event in June 2016 - "Steampunk at the Station" will draw on a younger demographic that loves the Victorian esthetic combined with scientific inquiry. Costumes and gadgets abound, and the after hours ticketed concert is a guaranteed photo op!

Background Statement

The Colorado Railroad Museum was formed to highlight Colorado's interesting and colorful history of railroading that is unique in the western United States. Railroads have been highly instrumental, not only in shaping Colorado's history, but also in setting its course through the decades by encouraging Colorado's economy, migration, history and culture to flourish.

Through its collections, artifacts, and exhibits, the Colorado Railroad Museum engages its visitors and creates connections to Colorado's past telling the stories of the people who worked and rode and whose lives were touched by the railroad.

The goals of the Colorado Railroad Museum are to
1. Represent railroading history in a hands-on and three dimensional fashion;
2. Preserve and make accessible important historic artifacts, artwork, and documents; and
3. Offer outstanding educational programs to the community.

In 1949, the Museum's co-founder Robert W. Richardson began acquiring locomotives, cars, artifacts and business records from Colorado's historic narrow gauge railroads, which were being rapidly abandoned. Ten years later in 1959, he and Cornelius W. Hauck opened the Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden, Colorado. In 1966, they established the Colorado Railroad Historical Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation to own and operate the Museum. Governed by a volunteer board of trustees, Richardson continued on as its Executive Director until his retirement in 1992. Since then, the Museum has developed into the largest repository of primary railroad history for Colorado and the adjacent Rocky Mountain area. It now welcomes 100,000 annual visitors. With the exception of Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year's Day, the Museum is open daily throughout the year.

In the late 1990s, a $1.7 million fundraising effort resulted in construction of two buildings: 1)
a climate-controlled library building to house the collection of books, photographs and corporate records and 2) an authentically designed roundhouse and turntable to restore and maintain the historic equipment. Both facilities are open to the public.

The Colorado - focused collection makes it unique among railroad Museums, with over 100 railcars from the 1880's - 1980's that ran through or within Colorado, including operating steam and diesel locomotives, cabooses, passenger coaches, freight cars, and specialized Maintenance of Way cars.

The Museum offers "living history" train rides every Saturday throughout the year on a 1/3 mile loop of track
around the perimeter of the 15 acre grounds. The Museum holds several special "steam up" events in order to continue to introduce the Museum to new audiences, increase return visits and provide an authentic late 19th century railroad experience. Guests can ride behind a steam locomotive in a completely restored 1880's passenger coach with red velvet seats and brass chandeliers. For over a dozen years the Museum has hosted the popular "Thomas the Tank Engine" event to promote interest in railroading to a new generation.

The Colorado Railroad Museum has been recognized by the Smithsonian Institution, the American
Association of State and Local History, History Colorado, the Jefferson County Historical Commission, and the Golden Landmarks Association for its work in preserving the railroad history of the Rocky Mountain West. The Museum ranks as one of the top 10 railroad Museums in the United States.

Since 1993, the Colorado Railroad Museum has been ranked among the Top 25 Denver-area
historical and cultural attractions by the Denver Business Journal. Since 2008, the Museum has been named as one of the top 10 paid attractions in the Denver area based on the annual Longwoods Study for Visit Denver.

Since 1961 the museum has published over 60 scholarly books and pamphlets on the railroads
of Colorado and the West that are internationally recognized by historians.

The Museum hosts numerous school/youth/developmentally disabled groups throughout the
year. In addition, the Museum offers a wide variety of educational programs for all ages.

Volunteers play a critical role in all aspects of the Museum. Nearly 300 volunteers annually donate over 38,000 hours of service to the Museum. Volunteers help restore and maintain our collection of railcars and equipment; provide administrative project support; help with train operations; support the care and use of our extensive collection of library resources; act as Hosts and Tour guides to explain and interpret Colorado railroad history; and assist with grounds maintenance.

Impact Statement

Through strategic marketing and consistent branding efforts, the Museum has become an important tourism partner with the Colorado Tourism Office, Visit Denver, and the Denver Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau.

In June 2015, the Museum was again recognized as one of the top ten paid attractions in the Denver Metro area by the Longwoods study for the 8th straight year and was named one of 25 top cultural attractions in the Denver Metro area by the Denver Business Journal. The Museum was honored as a nominee for the Golden Rotary Ethics in Business Award in 2014 and 2015.

Of the 100,000 visitors that attend the Museum annually, more than 40,000 Museum visitors come from outside the Denver Metro-area, including many from foreign countries. Most of those are from Germany, England, Japan and Australia.

Needs Statement

Stabilizing, maintaining, and restoring 19th and 20th century railcars is an expensive endeavor, and a continuous need, as all of our collection resides outdoors in the open. The effects of temperature extremes, the freeze/thaw cycles and the intense UV conditions provide a harsh environment for our railcar collection. In addition many of the railcars the Museum has added to the collection were received in fair to poor condition. The Museum needs continual funding in order to be good stewards to the railcar collection.

Continued growth and expansion not only in our attendance but also in our collections, has created enormous infrastructure challenges that we must address and work to find short and long term solutions. Our most critical priorities are:

Parking and Site Expansion. Parking is a major issue at this time and will become more acute as attendance increases. The Museum is limited on the number of parking spaces and needs to increase them. Additional property is needed to expand parking capacity. Visitors are currently shuttled in by bus from offsite parking during major events (i.e. "Day out with Thomas"), and this requires a large amount of preparation and additional cost. There are 9-15 acres of pastureland that borders the northern boundary of the Museum and would provide important land for parking, a new Museum building and additional live track should the owner eventually decide to sell. We continue to discuss with the landowner.

Adequate and Appropriate Storage Facilities.
We have a desperate need for appropriate storage for archival material and artifacts. Our staff and volunteers have been systematically cleaning out boxcars and cataloging materials that have not been irreparably damaged by the environment of the boxcars in which they have been stored. We also continue to receive valuable donations of archival and artifact items and collections. If we are to be good stewards of ourcollections, it is critical that we invest in the near future in appropriate climate controlled storage.

Appropriate storage for our "Varnish" railcars. The damage that our railcar collection, especially our "Varnish" equipment sustains in the outdoor environment, is alarming. Several of our railcars that were beautifully restored as little as three years ago have deteriorated rapidly. The exterior of the Rico Business car is in poor condition and looks unsightly. The passenger coach No. 284 is currently in the shop receiving much needed restoration. Locomotive No. 191 and Caboose no. 49, completely restored as part of a State Historical Fund Grant in 2009 are also in poor condition. If we are to be good stewards to our rolling stock collection, it is critical that we in the near future invest in a storage and restoration facility for our "Varnish Equipment".

Attractive Grounds
Beautiful grounds and a pavilion for our guests. The Museum has been a construction zone for the past few years as we have created new track, new track connections allowing greater access and giving us more options for exhibit and display of rolling stock. This project as well as the recent drought has created disruption in general and the recent drought has decimated the picnic grounds. The Museum receives regular inquiries into covered space for corporate functions, family reunions, weddings, and other large gatherings, but are turned away. If we are to continue to grow attendance, we must not only have interesting and changing exhibits, informative and stimulating education programs, accessible and extensive archives, exciting events, and well restored railroad equipment, we must also invest in attractive, thoughtfully landscaped grounds and a covered pavilion that our guests can use for shade from the sun and rain in the summer, and a place for groups to gather.

Designated education space:
Currently, our only space for lectures, classes, Parent & Child Workshops, is a small, shared space in our main Museum building that is also home to temporary exhibits, a film for visitors, and a display of large locomotive models.

Executive Director Statement

I joined the Colorado Railroad Museum in October 2006 as the first non-railfan, non-industry Executive Director. The Museum has made great strides as stewards to one of the largest collections of Colorado based rolling stock in the country. We have an aggressive maintenance and restoration program for our railcar collection. We have invested in a variety of interpretive programs to tell the important story of Colorado Railroad history, including outdoor interpretive signage, new exhibits, multimedia cell phone tours, guided tours, and a newly published collection guide. We are in the process of broadening our educational offerings to both children and adults and to create an environment of living history. Our research library has one of the largest collections of primary railroad material in the country. Our attendance has increased annually by nearly 15% per year since 2006 through increased marketing, new and exciting events, and an influx of tourists from around the world who are interested in heritage destinations. Your financial contribution helps the Colorado Railroad Museum continue to expand our offerings and care for our collections for future generations.
Donald Tallman

Board Chair/President Statement

The Colorado Railroad Museum has been named one of the top ten Denver Metro attractions because of its steady and continuous growth. Growth has occurred in attendance (Easter Bunny, Day Out With Thomas, Halloween, Polar Express and Wine Tasting Trains bring in new visitors who return to visit again and again).
We are continuing to develop and present exciting interpretive displays that showcase the importance of Colorado Railroad History. We have added concrete walkways to help our visitors get around easier and new interpretative signage has been installed around the grounds.
The Robert W. Richardson library is one of the top railroad libraries in the country. It receives new material almost daily from interested donors. We are fortunate to have most of the David Myrick collection, and the Ed Haley and Gordon Bassett photo collections, as well as many others. We are constantly assisting with research for a steady stream of visitors with questions.
Our employees and volunteers are very dedicated to the preservation of our collections. They work hard to help the Museum continue to grow.

Quotes from Trip Advisor:

Second time here and still exciting to visit. Our grandsons were enthralled with the trains and listened intently to the history of the cars. Ran from one to the other and called us to show us everything. Was a good day for them and fun for us also. Would definitely recommend a visit.
The Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden, Colorado is a non-profit that has done a superb job in preserving the romance of when trains where king. Steam and diesel locomotives vie for attention along with numerous assorted passenger cars. Each has a special story. In particular, the museum places a special emphasis on narrow-gauge acquisitions -an innovative solution in traversing the difficult mountainous Colorado terrain. Be sure to checkout the Denver Leadville & Gunnison No. 191 - the oldest steam locomotive in the museum's collection. Special trains rides are given on "Steam Up Days". This is a real treat for children and the childhood in all of us.
Absolutely amazing...assembled over many decades by loving experts in railroad equipment and history. You name it, it has it.
Train buff or not a fun family adventure. Special events for the tiny tots and hands on history for us all. Getting to move around and in the different trains are informative and fun. Lots to see and all ages will enjoy.
I added the Colorado Railroad Museum to our Denver vacation itinerary because of our six year old son's love of trains. My husband and I were surprised at how much we loved it too. The museum grounds have so many trains from yesteryear that you're inherently transported back in time. And everyone who works there is super friendly and accommodating.
Whether it is trains, western history or just museums, this is the place to vist. Small enough to easily navigate but with a large collection, it is a train lovers must see.
This place is a change for young mothers to take their babies in strollers, Grandparents to point to what once was, and Dads and Kids to crawl all over antique machinery and get pleasantly dirty. Birthday parties in Cabooses are available, and train rides are held each Saturday (not included with Admission) with live steam power once a month. There are numerous events during all seasons, now including the Polar Express (quite elaborate) at Christmas time. Thomas the Tank engine make an appearance in September. The Easter bunny, Halloween and others all make their appearance. Gunfighters and cavalrymen show up during the summer, replete with train robberies on a real train. The display of antique railroad equipment is very hands on, and your kids can get their hands on throttles and ring bells. There is also an elaborate and distinguished HO railroad in the basement of the Depot, plus a world class outdoor railroad put up by the Denver Garden Railway Society, oldest club of its type in the nation.
Railroads built the US and especially the West, and there is no better place to live that history than at the Colorado Railroad Museum. They have hundreds of pieces of railroad history from the 1870's thru cars and engines just a few years removed form active service. Their collection of narrow gauge equipment that built the state of Colorado is especially complete, and they run it behind authentic steam locomotives several times a year.


This statement was entered into the Congressional Record.
Thursday, June 21, 2012
Mr. PERLMUTTER. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to congratulate and applaud the Colorado Railroad Museum for receiving the Living
Landmark Award. The Living Landmark Award is presented by
the Golden Landmarks Association, a nonprofit organization which works to preserve historic places and educate people about the
wonderful history the Golden area has to offer.

The Colorado Railroad Museum has provided an interesting and colorful history of railroading unique to the Western United States.
Railroads have been instrumental in Colorado's history by encouraging the economy, migration, and culture to flourish. In 1959, Robert W. Richardson and Cornelius W. Hauck opened the Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden.
The museum houses the largest repository for Colorado's railroad history and nearly 100,000 people visit the museum every year.
In the late 90's the museum added a climatecontrolled library to house books, photographs, and corporate records and added an
authentic roundhouse and turntable to restore and maintain the historic equipment. To instill in today's youth a love for trains and railroads, The Colorado Railroad Museum offers train rides every weekend and hosts the Thomas the Tank Engine event every year.
The Colorado Railroad Museum is ranked among the top 25 Denver area historical and cultural attractions and has been recognized
by the Smithsonian Institute, American Association of State and Local History, and Colorado Historical Society for its work preserving
railroad history in the Rocky Mountains.
I am honored to congratulate the Colorado Railroad Museum; I know they will work to provide an understanding and passion of railroads for future generations.
Key aspects of this profile information have been reviewed by Community First Foundation staff. Each organization is exclusively responsible for the content that appears on the profile page. Community First Foundation offers general guidance as to the purpose of each area but does not require or encourage charities to include anything in particular in each section.

Fundraising For This Nonprofit

Create a Fundraiser Learn About Fundraising