The main Museum building, completed in 1959, resembles an 1880-era small town railroad depot. Typical architectural features include wide eaves to protect waiting passengers from weather, and large bay windows so the station agent can observe activity on the boarding platforms. The yellow and brown paint reflects standard building colors for the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad.
The Depot Museum houses the museum’s two changing gallery spaces featuring the colorful stories of the railroads serving Colorado for over 125 years. Guests can view introductory videos to the museum in the museum’s upper gallery and enjoy hands-on activities downstairs in the museum’s lower gallery.
The Lens of Extravagance
Two new exhibits Beebe and Clegg: Their Enduring Photographic Legacy, and Romance Along the Rails: The Phenomenon of Beebe and Clegg, both are now open through early 2024 & included with admission.
View these companion exhibits that highlight both the photography and the phenomenon of Lucius Beebe and Charles Clegg, who introduced railroad photography and the world of railroading to popular audiences.
● In the traveling exhibition Beebe and Clegg: Their Enduring Photographic Legacy, enjoy 20 of their most memorable black-and-white images together with labels highlighting each photograph plus informative interpretive panels providing additional background and context. With several prints never before seen by the public, the exhibition has been assembled by the Center for Railroad Photography & Art from source material used to produce the book of the same title, released in 2018 by the Center.
● In the Colorado Railroad Museum’s companion exhibit Romance Along the Rails: The Phenomenon of Beebe and Clegg, learn more about this fascinating couple and view correspondence, Colorado-specific publications, and other physical reminders of their love affair with Colorado and its narrow gauge railroading legacy. Among the treasures found in this intimate exhibit are a typed letter from Beebe to Louis B. Mayer of MGM; a Central City Opera press kit plus a program from the opera Baby Doe, along with a photo of Beebe and Clegg with Central City socialites Fred McFarlane and Lillian Cushing; and a somewhat terse, typed letter from Beebe to Colorado Railroad Museum founder Bob Richardson, responding to a review by Richardson that Beebe considered negative, together with a copy of said review.
Denver HO Model Railroad Club Layout
Located in the lower level of the main building, the Denver HO Model Railroad Club is one of the oldest and largest model railroad clubs in the Rocky Mountain region. The Club’s operating layout replicates the various types of Colorado mountain railroading in HO and HOn3.
HO scale is 1/87th of the real size of standard gauge trains and track. HOn3 is the same scale, but designed for narrow gauge trains and track.
Members of the Denver HO Model Railway Club maintain and continue to improve the layout throughout the year. Guests can insert quarters (available in the Depot Store) to make a train operate and also to power the scale amusement park on the layout! For more information, visit DenverHOModelRRClub.org.
Center for Railroad Photography & Art Winners
Now Open – Included with admission
Every year, the Center for Railroad Photography & Art holds a contest that attracts some of today’s finest and most creative photographers. Those who placed in this year’s program will have their photographs displayed at the Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden into 2024. The Museum’s goal is to showcase not only Colorado’s rich railroad history, but also the many creative people—around the world—who keep the spirit of railroading alive and well in the 21st century.
This exhibit of 17 visually engaging works (Judges Also Liked honorees are included along with the winners) is included with regular Museum admission, and located in the main hallway and staircase areas of the Museum Depot. It will continue through summer 2024.
For more information about the contest winners, their photographs visit the Center for Railroad Photography & Art online here.
Now Open – Included with admission
Shining a spotlight on how railroaders have communicated over the years using sight, sound and code. Located in the Museum Depot’s Upper Gallery, the exhibit is aimed at engaging all ages, with kid-friendly content included. There’s also a video you can watch online to learn more!
Voltaw Scale Model Trains
Herbert W. Voltaw built a series of 1-inch scale locomotive and railroad car models in the 1940s, 50s and 60s using aluminum, steel bar, soft and hard woods, plastic, and glass. The Museum displays a number of these intricate works of art in this gallery.
This diorama shows a typical telegraph office that could be found at a train depot in the early 20th century. It comes with a working “sounder” encouraging visitors to decode and send messages coming over the wire.