Greeley, CO

All aboard! The Greeley, CO railroad museum brings out the train enthusiast in everyone.

Conquering Cognitions

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Photo by the author

I was not an avid train fan when I entered the Colorado Model Railroad Museum (CMRM) in Greeley, Colorado, but I certainly was when I left!

This fabulous museum was much larger than I expected, and has a variety of exhibits that will appeal to all ages. It has a Christmas-themed display, LEGO town exhibit with a working train, and a caboose you can climb in and explore. It also has a large collection of railroad memorabilia, a circus-themed children's layout, and the centerpiece attraction which is a highly detailed model railroad layout.

Several trains were running through the scene, all controlled by volunteer conductors who mingled with the visitors. In addition to watching the model trains move through their environment, there were fascinating details and interactive displays to explore in the landscape.

One of my favorites was a forest fire scene complete with a fire crew and smoke you activated by pushing a button. I saw several small towns with mercantile shops, hardware stores, hotels, and brick facades with painted advertising. There were historic automobiles, such as Studebakers and Edsels, on the town streets.

One of the miniature towns showcased an explosion at a fireworks factory, and the fire department was on the scene. This interactive display had smoke and flashing lights which were activated by a button, similar to the forest fire scene.

There were animals interspersed in the layout including clucking chickens (interactive display), mama bear and cubs, dogs, and cows. There was a large lake with people fly fishing, canoeing, camping, and swimming. Below is a food truck with customers eating at a nearby picnic table to give you an idea of the impressive attention to detail.

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A miniature model of a food truck with people eating at picnic tables.Photo by the author

The museum has an "Eye-Spy" game that is fun for all ages. You receive a list of sixteen items to find around the museum, some are part of the train displays, and others are hanging on the walls. Our whole family had fun searching for the clues. A second part of the "game" is finding five dinosaurs hidden in the centerpiece train layout - this was trickier than expected, but we managed to complete the challenge!

In addition to the model trains, there is an impressive array of memorabilia such as lanterns, photographs, railroad pins, dishes from the dining cars, and the below-pictured traffic warning device.

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Traffic warning device.Photo by the author

My favorite exhibit was the "Department 56" Christmas village. I especially loved the Fisher-Price design with vintage toys that include a corn popper top, retro chatter phone face, and stacking rings. According to the museum's tour pamphlet, the currently displayed village is only 1% of the entire collection. Every Thanksgiving, the pieces are rotated, so come back at least once a year to admire this intricate display. The CMRM is the only museum to have the entire collection, and the North Pole Series is currently on display.

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Department 56 North Pole Series display at Colorado Model Railroad MuseumPhoto by the author

We all enjoyed touring the large, wooden caboose - it was like stepping back in time. The furnishings are simple, with two beds, a sink, storage, and a sitting area. You can climb up into the cupola, a small windowed area that projects from the roof where the crew usually sat.

Plan your visit

From the front desk staff to the volunteer conductors, everyone was friendly and helpful. They all were excited to share their train knowledge, and their enthusiasm was contagious.

The museum is in downtown Greeley next to the railroad tracks at 680 10th Street. During the winter (01 September - 31 May), the museum is open Friday - Sunday, so please plan accordingly. They offer a senior, military, and student discount.

A fun weekend adventure for the whole family. All abroad!!

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Jill is a clinical psychologist who earned her PsyD in 1997. She has over twenty years of clinical experience working with anxiety, depression, and trauma. Jill enjoys writing about personal growth, self-care, and healthy relationships. She is also an outdoor enthusiast, museum lover, and runner.

Colorado Springs, CO
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