Robert W. Richardson and Cornelius W. Hauck opened the Colorado Railroad Museum in 1959. Then, and now, our mission is dedicated to preserving for future generations a tangible record of Colorado’s dynamic railroad era and particularly its pioneering, narrow gauge mountain railroads.
In 1964, the nonprofit Colorado Railroad Historical Foundation was formed to assume ownership and operation of the Museum.
The Alamosa Years 1948-1958
In the late 1940s when Colorado’s narrow gauge railroad companies started going out of business, Robert W. Richardson began collecting rolling stock, railway records, and other pieces of equipment in an effort to preserve Colorado history. Bob’s collection quickly outgrew the available space at his Museum in Alamosa, Colorado and in 1958, with the help of his friend Cornelius Hauck, Richardson moved the Museum to Golden, Colorado.
Many Colorado railroad companies closed down in the late 1940s and 1950s, when falling ore prices and increasing operating expenses made business unprofitable. The Uintah Railway Company closed in 1939, the Silverton Northern in 1942, the Rio Grande Junction in 1941, the Midland Terminal in 1949 and the Rio Grande Southern in 1951.
The Golden Years 1959-78
Once in Golden, Richardson built a replica narrow gauge railroad station to serve as the main Museum building. With the help of volunteers he started laying track for 50 pieces of equipment and built a motel to help fund the Museum. The Iron Horse Motel was originally located where the roundhouse now sits.
Growing the Collection 1979-90
With the help of Museum trustee Cornelius Hauck, volunteers and railfans, Bob Richardson was able to purchase over twenty pieces of full-size rolling stock during this period. This included the Bob & Julie Shank collection from Durango, which brought in the rare and unique narrow gauge motor cars Geese Nos. 6 & 7. Encouraging its volunteer tradition, the Museum allowed volunteers to actively restore collection pieces.
The Expansion Years 1991-2000
Although Museum founder Bob Richardson retired in 1991, his legacy was just starting to grow. Recognizing the need to invest in infrastructure, the Board of Trustees started taking major financial steps to improve and expand the Museum. After hiring permanent full-time staff, the Museum built the Robert W. Richardson Railroad library in 1997, finished the track loop in 1999 and completed the roundhouse and turntable in 2000.
Into the Future 2001-Present
The Museum has experienced many positive changes since 2000. Interpretive signs have been installed around the property, the downstairs of the Museum has been remodeled into a temporary exhibit venue, restoration efforts continue at a renewed pace and the Museum continues to add historic pieces to its collection.