By Terry Card
Nose pressed against the glass, the little boy tilted his new Railroad engineer’s striped hat back off his forehead and pointed wildly in all directions as the model railroad trains swept through the village and mountains, over bridges and through tunnels and intersections, its headlamp gleaming in the starlit night, which only five minutes ago had been full daylight until changed through the magic of computer wizardry. His equally mesmerized father looked at him affectionately with a huge grin on his face. He had hoped his son would be enthralled by model trains as he had been when he was a youngster himself. And so it was!
Father and son were the beneficiaries of a fully functional $75,000 computer controlled permanent O gauge model train display in the Sullivan Room of the indoor museum, located immediately behind the museum offices, through which visitors pass from the parking lot. The model trains which forge through village homes and shops, snowy mountains and a series of tunnels, automatically switch from daylight travel to a magical night mode, complete with lighted buildings and a starlit sky.
Russell Dean created and built this model train display throughout his lifetime and wanted to find a permanent home for it after his passing. After much searching for the perfect venue, his wife Fritzy Dean selected the Galveston Railroad Museum to display the magnificent setting, art work and detail that her husband poured into his most cherished hobby.
And twice lucky is the Galveston Railroad Museum, having been recently gifted by the Larry George family with a $135,000, twenty-five year labor of love, HO (1/2 of O gauge) model train layout that is beyond description in terms of the detail displayed – to the point where one can view the hobos sitting around a campfire as the trains whistle past. The layout was built from scratch. It includes train side yards, a round house, a working lighthouse for the fishing village off the main road, people working or lounging in the streets, foot bridges, tunnels and very detailed hand-made mountain trestles. The scenery was all hand built to look exactly like passing through a rocky, mountainous territory. This display was opened to the public in February 2014, but Morris Gould, the Museum Director, said the official dedication ceremony will not take place until the backdrop to the display is up-graded to reflect the detailed standard of the display itself. He expects the dedication to occur by the end of 2014. The room where the model is located, down the hall and to the right of the Sullivan Room, will be named the Larry George Room.
Galveston Railroad Museum is located at the west end of The Strand, at 25th Street (Rosenberg), and has free parking at the rear of the museum. The parking lot entrance is just past 26th Street on the south side of the museum.
Summer Hours are 10 am – 5 pm Daily (March – October).
The museum is closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Day, New Years Day and for Mardi Gras (February 26th through March 4th).
In addition to the regular and special events, the museum offers Birthday packages for children that are excited by the real and/or model trains. They offer three packages: The Thomas, $400 for 15 children and 15 adults, The Engineer: $350 for 12 children and 12 adults, and The Train Whistle: $300 for up to 40 guests.
This is a first class facility with exceptional programs, run by truly dedicated people.
Museum prices are:
Adults (13 years+) – $8
Seniors (60 years+) – $6
Children (4 years+) – $5
Children (3 and under) – Free
Saturday Train Rides are:
Passengers (2 years +) – $4 and infants (1 year and under) free.
Galveston Railroad Museum
Downtown on the top end of The Strand
2602 Sante Fe Pl, Galveston, TX 77550