FRISCO, Texas — The Museum of the American Railroad is still very much a work in progress, but it stands to be one of the nation’s more impressive rail museums once completed.
The museum traces its origins to an exhibit at the 1963 State Fair of Texas. It proved so popular, it was made an annual exhibit at the fair and formally opened as a museum — known as the Age of Steam Museum — in 1986 at Fair Park in Dallas.
The location closed in November 2011, and the museum relocated to its current location in Frisco, a suburb located about 30 miles north of downtown Dallas. The town, interestingly, was created by and named for the St. Louis-San Francisco (Frisco) Railway, which arrived in the area in 1902.
Today, many of the museum’s operations are located at the nearby Frisco Heritage Museum. But, its railyard is open for regular walking tours. Future plans call for a depot inspired by Boston’s North Station of 1893 to house some of its collection.
On display in the yard is an impressive collection of locomotives and rolling stock. Some of the highlights include:
- Union Pacific No. 4018: The American Locomotive Company (ALCO) built this 4-8-8-4 “Big Boy” in December 1941. Union Pacific ordered a total of 44 “Big Boys,” the last of which was received in 1944. No. 4018 officially retired in 1962 and was donated to the Museum of the American Railroad in 1964.
- Pennsylvania Railroad No. 4903: The Pennsylvania Railroad built this GG1 in 1943. On June 8, 1968, the locomotive was one of two to pull U.S. Sen. Robert Kennedy’s funeral train from New York to Washington. The locomotive was numbered No. 4906 when with Amtrak
- Union Pacific No. 6913: General Motors Electro-Motive Division (EMD) delivered this DDA40X — one of 47 — in 1969. The locomotives were the largest diesel-electrics ever built, and No. 6913 racked up more than two million miles by the time it retired in 1986.
- Santa Fe No. M.160: The Brill Co. built this so-called “doodlebug” in 1931. Originally a gasoline-powered engine, the railroad in 1948 converted the engine to use diesel. The locomotive, generally used on more sparsely-used lines, remained in service until about 1969.
- TXI No. 8000: ALCO built this RSD-1 locomotive, and in November 1942, it was rebuilt to meet military specifications. During World War II, the U.S. Army’s 762nd Railroad Batallion used the engine on the Trans-Iranian Railway to and from Stalingrad, Russia, to circumvent a German blockade. Following the war, Texas Industries (TXI) used the locomotive to haul cement and aggregate until its retirement in 1999.
For more information, visit museumoftheamericanrailroad.org.