Galveston Railroad Museum
Address: 2602 Santa Fe Pl, Galveston, TX 77550
If you’re a history, movie or railroad enthusiast, this is a fabulous museum that is generally uncrowded and very affordable:
Adults 13 years + $10
Children 4-13 $5
Active military free
The original lobby and depot have been reserved to their earlier 20th century grandeur. Especially great for kids is they get to see what travel was like in a more leisurely time with no security lines. The lobby looks just as it did when constructed in 1933. It closed in 1967 but you can still see the old railroad bridge when crossing the causeway.
The gift shop was originally a cigar newsstand and the Harvey room is now a for-hire conference and meeting room. The facilities can be rented for events and this is place for a truly swanky wedding party! The museum has many interesting pieces including maps, hurricane Ike photos (scary stuff), model trains, schedules.
The steam locomotive running on tracks was invented in England in 1812 and was introduced in the United States in 1815 by Colonel Stevens who also created the first railroad in this country in 1832, the New Jersey Railroad Company. Later it became part of the Pennsylvania railroad community in Hoboken New Jersey.
In 1865, the first track from the Atlantic to the Pacific was completed. Some of the Plains American Indians sat in their warm tepees all winter and carved (on bone or wood) a “winter stick” to show the most important event of the year. As the white european pushed the natives west, the locomotive started appearing on the winter sticks. Subsequent to 1865, the railroad business in the country exploded. What started out as 4,000 miles of track in 1865 ballooned to 345,000 miles in just a generation. For many decades, the US rail system was the envy of the world. By 1950, it was in decline and now only one railroad company, Amtrak offers service. It’s considered a nice way to travel and the trip East from Grand Junction Colorado to be one of the most scenic in the world as it winds for hours through high and narrow valleys along the river.
Railroads were the engines of growth for the United States’ rise to global financial prominence. The height of the railroads was in the 1920′ when there were over a thousand railroad companies moving along nearly four hundred thousand miles of track moving over one billion passengers a year. At one point after World War II, tens of thousands of trains made there way throughout the country.
There were also serious competitions for speed ad in 1934 the Pioneer Zephyr made the eleven hundred miles from Chicago to Denver in a bit over 13 hours which isn’t that much longer than it takes to wait in lines at the airports. Also, the food was way better back then and there was no fee for your luggage.
Railroads were THE engines of growth. At their peak in the 1920s, more than 1,000 companies operated over a network of 380,000 miles of track and moved 1.27 billion passengers annually.
After World War II, the tire and bus companies bribed politicians across the country to replace city trolleys with busses. In the name of corporate profits, a very efficient rail network was demolished. Electric rail trolleys pollute less and their steel wheels are only rarely replaced, not every four months. Because of these financial interests, the United States’ railroad system is now pathetic and anemic compared to those of Europe, Japan and China. How is it that China has super-fast magnetic levitation rail and the United States railways are still powered by diesel and poke along at 60 miles and hour?
And, of course, call us if you need a cab!