Colorado Railroad Museum

There's something amazing about trains. The familiar whistle has always promised adventure. The gentle rock of the rails has set the rhythm of our lives. Visitors from around the world experience it again at the Colorado Railroad Museum with over 100 narrow and standard gauge steam and diesel locomotives, passenger cars, cabooses. Your donation can help ensure that these important pieces of history remain available for generations to come.

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.

A new exhibit, "Life on Colorado Railroads - Railroading Today" tells the important story of the contemporary men and women who work for the railroad and the types of jobs they perform.

The Museum recently relocated a 1950's dining car and passenger coach to a prominent location for interpretation and authentic railroad dining experiences.

The Museum continues its popular adult lecture series - "Rails and Cocktails" that entertains and educates on a variety of Colorado Railroad history topics.


Colorado Inventions and Inventors of the 19th Century by William Reich, the Museum's latest publication is at the printer.
Milwaukee Public Television recently filmed a segment devoted to the Museum that will be aired in 2015 for their popular Trains Ahead series.

Educational Programs

All current Education Programs will continue to go forward. 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.

Library, Archives, and Collections

Continue item level cataloging and the creation of finding aids (to collections) and subject guides (parts of different collections that address the same subject/topic)
Continue developing our lexicon/controlled vocabulary, in line with Library of Congress to facilitate in participation in OCLC, slated for later in 2014.
Some digitization, primarily of institutional historic photographs. Also digitizing for preservation purposes. We hope to become more active on HistoryPin as our library of image scans grows!
Continue working to partner with area institutions: DPL, Denver Botanic Gardens, History Colorado, etc. Just as these larger institutions provide technical assistance to us, we try to do the same for peer institutions and smaller, such as Golden History Museum and the Broomfield Depot Museum.
Librarian/Archivist Kathy McCardwell is scheduled to serve as a panelist for a session on special libraries as part of a continuing education course
Continue developing our professional standards for publications released by the Museum
Continue striving for a higher standard of customer service (faster, better recall, more info available online/offsite). We also continue working to situate ourselves within the institution, providing support for the Board and its decisions, publicity department, exhibits, education, and restoration at the Roundhouse. This last element has been particularly successful in 2013-2014, as Master Mechanic & Grants Manager Mike Spera and Archivist & Librarian Kathy McCardwell successfully nominated to the State Historic Register newly-donated D&RGW Locomotive No. 491, using a number of library and archival materials to support this nomination. The team then successfully applied for a grant to restore the same locomotive to operation, for use in future events.

Restoration and Display of Rolling Stock

UP Diner(1949) - will be moved to a permanent location coupled with a UP Passenger Coach (1949). Will be used for interpretation and revenue generation as a venue for historic interpreted railroad dining experiences and as a much needed meeting space.
UP Passenger coach (1949) - will be seeking funding for new upholstery. It will be available for new events and interpretation.
Two additional rider cars are being constructed. The new cars will have higher capacity, be nearly maintenance free, and will have a more historic/prototypical look
Uintah No. 50- will finish exterior and continue with restoration of the interior - will be using state of the art 3D routers for the ornamental woodworking on 1870's seats.
Locomotive No. 491 - will complete the State Historical Fund grant and complete restoration back to service by the end of 2014.
Locomotive No. 346, the current mainstay for steam-up events will require major maintenance in 2015.

Operations/ Events

Will be able to 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
The Museum is bringing the Polar Express to the Denver Metro Area. 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. The event is anticipated to draw nearly 10,000 people.

Safety Culture
The Museum has begun the process of embracing a systems safety culture. A Safety Committee was formed at the end of 2013, comprised of Museum Staff, Board, and volunteers to develop a comprehensive safety plan for the Museum. Following an initial safety assessment, the Committee began meeting monthly to address safety issues and to work on the safety plan, which the Committee hopes to complete in early 2015.

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 nearly 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 2014, the Museum was 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.

More than 40,000 Museum visitors come from outside the Denver Metro-area, including 2,656 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 moreacute 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

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 our archival and artifact collections, 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 bldg that is also home to temporary exhibits, a film for visitors, kid's area, and a display of large 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, Christmas 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:

We went for the first time this last summer after living here for 18 years! It was such a great time! Don't know why we waited so long. The trains are really cool! There are tons you can actually go on and several you can go into and explore! We took our 2-year-old granddaughter and she had an awesome time! It's also located very close to downtown Golden and Coors Brewery! Really fun family day!
The Colorado Railroad Museum is a great place for train aficionados and fans of steam. Great collection and sometimes they fire them up and move them around too!
A wonderful collection of railroad memorabilia as well as old rare locomotives, motor cars and railroad cars. This is very "kid friendly", too …
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.
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