Our exhibits bring the storied history of the railroad industry to life for thousands of visitors every year.
A new photography exhibit will open on February 3, 2018, featuring the railroad photography of David Plowden, a well-known American photographer that created iconic images of the nation’s railroads. His fascination with railroads was the root of his life’s work as a photographer. Plowden went on to create a vast body of work documenting the railroad environment. He is best known to railroad enthusiasts and railfans for his images of steam locomotives, yet he has approached nearly every facet of railroading.
The Center for Railroad Photography & Art (www.railphoto-art.org), David Plowden, and the National Railroad Museum have collaborated to present this exhibition.
The Transportation China Collection Exhibit features hundreds of pieces of china from Jay Christopher’s collection. This is the first time this selection of china has been on display at the Museum. The exhibit includes silver, service plates, prominent patterns, and china used on railroads, steamships, and airlines. The exhibit discusses the rise and fall of fine transportation dining. There are also recipe examples to take home and recreate.
Housed in the Museum’s Hood Junction, the Jodey Lenfestey Children’s Discovery Depot will expose younger Museum visitors to the world of railroading, while teaching children elements of social studies, math, and science based on Wisconsin Model Academic Standards. Best of all, the depot will communicate its message in a fun, hands-on environment that will engage young imaginations and take them on a family-friendly, educational journey.
The National Railroad Museum is proud to have the only A4 Class locomotive in the United States. This British made locomotive was renamed for Dwight D. Eisenhower after World War II. Along with this engine are two London and North Eastern Railroad cars that were converted for Eisenhower’s use during the war.
Pullman Porters: From Service to Civil Rights, is at the nexus of three central historical narratives: railroads in United States History, and the labor and civil rights movements of the 20th century. Museum staff have developed a compelling exhibit that tells the story of a group of men who worked America’s rail lines for nearly 100 years.
Big Boy – the world’s largest steam locomotive. Weighing in at 1.1 million pounds and measuring nearly half a football field in length (132’-10.875”), the Big Boy locomotives were designed to haul heavy freight for the Union Pacfic railroad over the mountainous regions of Utah and Wyoming.
In 1955, the railroads tried to stem the dismal downward spiral they saw in passenger traffic. They were looking for a vehicle that was fast, economical to build and operate, and fashionable in appearance. General Motors, using existing technology from its many divisions, developed the Aerotrain. With coaches fashioned from bus bodies and appliance by Frigidare, the Aerotrain was designed to travel at over 100 mph.
Prior to May 1971, when Amtrak began to operate America’s passenger trains, individual railroads offered their own service. There was considerable competition between railroads with travelers having several trains to choose from between major cities.
One device used to advertise and identify these trains was the drumhead – a round, illuminated sign bearing the train’s logo attached to the rear of the last car. The first drumheads were large and round, much like a bass drum – hence their name.