At the end of summer, many family fun budgets are nearing empty. Fortunately for the metro, free comes in the form of locomotives, cabooses and passenger trains at the Oklahoma Railway Museum. With free admission, train lovers of all ages can enjoy the charms of the choo-choo.
Located at 3400 N.E. Grand, the Oklahoma Railway Museum opened 10 years ago. Complete with a 1905 depot, the museum offers something for the whole family, from history facts and railway artifacts to actual train rides, held the first and third Saturday of each month, April through August.
"For a lot of kids, it's the first time they've ever been on a train," said Stan Hall, ORM president, who feels it's important to let children see trains up close and personal and also learn about train safety, such as not trying to beat trains at railroad crossings.
Hall said the museum tries to offer something for everyone, and continues to refurbish trains and add more inventory. The fleet makes for an impressive romp through time, from the late 1800s to the mid-20th century.
Visitors can step up " way up " to sit inside a passenger car like the 1938 Santa Fe coach on exhibit, walk through a Santa Fe diner built in 1942, and even peek into the kitchen to see how and where meals were prepped for riders. A look at a large map of the Oklahoma railway system from the early 1900s gives visitors insight into where track-bound travelers roamed back then.
Vintage-mod locomotives from the '40s, '50s and '60s provide the hip factor to the railway. Always wanted a picture of yourself standing on the steps of a caboose? ORM has five to choose from, going all the way back to 1878.
In modern times, we are used to watching freight cars whiz by, but ORM has some oldies in that category, as well, with boxcars, tank cars, flat cars and other miscellany.
ORM is set up for larger groups, too, including school programs and birthday parties aboard a birthday-themed train car.
The biweekly Saturday train rides leave the depot at five scheduled times. Tickets are $8 for adults, $5 for kids ages 3-14, and free for children under 3. Plus, Thomas the Tank Engine makes regular visits for a "Day Out with Thomas" event; his next stop at ORM is scheduled for Sept. 25-27.
From great photo opportunities to hands-on learning, ORM is on the right track for a great Oklahoma adventure. Museum hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays. For more information, call 424-8222. "Malena Lott