My grandson loves trains. Been crazy about them since before he was two years old. He started out with Thomas Train – my personal favorite is Percy (don’t laugh at me) – graduated up to Chuggington and on to the real thing.
His third birthday was celebrated in Old Sacramento’s California State Train Museum. The place is huge with exhibits ranging from train-related items, to small-to-large scale layouts and on up to actual-sized locomotives and passenger cars.
Needless to say, he had a blast. Getting him to leave the museum required a bribe of ice cream.
Sacramento Is Nowhere Near Omaha, Son.
Ok, so why am I bringing up a long-ago trip to a museum 1,600 miles from Omaha? Well…
When said grandson visits next summer there are two places we’ll be taking him almost as soon as he arrives. The top destination lies about two-and-a-half hours south in Atchison, Kansas. (Ironically, that was the average time it took us to drive from our home in Central California to San Francisco to visit him back when he was three.)
Once there we will find the Atchison Rail Museum with a collection of trains, cars and layouts I hope will rival the one he toured in Old Sacramento. Only this one he’ll remember. While there we’ll duck into the Amelia Earhart Museum, because I’m a history nut and I think he should check out some of the exhibits there too.
Closer, But Omaha Isn’t In Kansas, Dude
Once back in Omaha though – and this goes for any of you thinking of visiting my new hangout – an outdoor exhibit awaits any train aficionado right across the street from TD Ameritrade Park. I stumbled across it while walking from my car to attend the College World Series.
In an enclosed park – I did not see anyone charging an admission price to enter – are two Union Pacific locomotives and a long string of older-style passenger cars. Think of the train Cary Grant met Eva Marie Saint on in the Hitchcock classic, North By Northwest, only with all-yellow cars.
And you are actually allowed to climb aboard and check them out. Having traveled by train on Amtrak a few times from New Mexico to California, I’m curious to see the difference between the 1950s trains and the more modern-day cars.
Knowing my grandson, he’ll be more interested in the locomotives and trying to figure out how to drive one of them back home.
Speaking of train rides, my publishing partner-in-crime, Jim Christina, and I wrote a western that features a couple of train rides. If you’d like an idea of 19th Century train travel to compare to more recent eras, give our book, The Last Lonely Trail, a read. You can find it in print and in e-book format on Amazon.