Southeastern Railway Museum: Georgia's Train Treasure
Located in Duluth, Georgia, Southeastern Railway Museum offers visitors an immersive experience through its extensive collection of historic locomotives, passenger cars, and railway artifacts.
Explore engaging indoor exhibits, stroll through the outdoor rail yard, and even hop aboard a train ride for an authentic rail travel experience. Don’t miss the chance to embark on this unique journey into the world of rail transportation.
Southeastern Railway Museum history
The museum was established in 1970 by the Atlanta Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society.
This welcoming museum was founded with the goal of preserving and celebrating the rich history of railroads in the southeastern United States. Over time, the museum has expanded considerably, now spanning 35 acres of land.
Initially, the museum’s collection was displayed in a humble building in downtown Atlanta. However, in 1998, it moved to its current location in Duluth, providing more space and the opportunity to enhance its exhibits and offerings. Since then, the museum has earned the distinction of being Georgia’s official transportation history museum.
To this day, the musem continues to grow and flourish, with ongoing restoration projects, special events, and educational programs that help conserve and share the captivating history of railroads in the southeastern United States.
The musem boasts an impressive collection of railway artifacts, locomotives, and rolling stock, offering visitors a glimpse into the rich history of rail transportation in the southeastern United States. The museum’s collections can be broadly categorized into indoor and outdoor exhibits.
- Historic Locomotives and Passenger Cars: The museum features a diverse range of restored and preserved steam and diesel locomotives, passenger cars, and freight cars that showcase the evolution of rail transportation over the years.
- Model Train Displays: The museum houses several intricate and detailed model train layouts, representing various scales and depicting different periods in railroad history. These displays are a delight for model train enthusiasts and casual visitors alike.
- Railroad Artifacts and Memorabilia: The museum’s collection includes a wide array of railroad artifacts, such as lanterns, signal equipment, tools, uniforms, signage, and photographs. These items offer a unique insight into the everyday workings of railroads and the lives of the people who operated and maintained them.
- Restored Train Cars and Cabooses: Scattered throughout the museum grounds, visitors can explore various restored train cars and cabooses, each with its unique history and design.
- Maintenance and Repair Equipment: The museum displays several pieces of railway maintenance and repair equipment, such as cranes, track inspection vehicles, and snowplows, showcasing the essential machinery that kept railroads operational.
- Walking Tours of the Rail Yard: Visitors can take a self-guided walking tour around the museum’s rail yard, where they can get an up-close look at the various pieces of rolling stock and learn about their history and significance.
In addition to these permanent exhibits, the musem also hosts temporary exhibits, traveling displays, and special events that showcase different aspects of railway history or focus on specific topics within the broader context of rail transportation.
This ensures that there is always something new and interesting for visitors to explore during their visit to the museum.
Highlights of the indoor exhibits
Here are some highlights of the indoor exhibits that you won’t want to miss during your visit:
Historic Locomotives and Passenger Cars
- Southern Railway No. 6901: This classic E8 diesel locomotive was once the flagship of the Southern Railway’s passenger fleet, pulling famous trains such as the Crescent and the Southerner.
- Georgia Railroad No. 1026: An elegant 1905 steam locomotive, this ten-wheeler represents the early 20th-century steam era and showcases the intricate design and craftsmanship of the period.
- “Superb” Pullman Car: This luxurious private railcar, built in 1911, was used by President Warren G. Harding during his 1923 cross-country trip and is a prime example of the opulence and style of early 20th-century rail travel.
Model Train Displays
- HO Scale Layout: This detailed layout features a combination of cityscapes, rural scenes, and industrial areas, with multiple trains running simultaneously. It showcases the intricate detail and realism that can be achieved in HO scale modeling.
- O Gauge Layout: The O Gauge layout features a variety of trains, including steam and diesel locomotives, passenger cars, and freight cars, running on three-rail tracks. It demonstrates the larger scale and presence that O Gauge trains have compared to their smaller counterparts.
Railroad Artifacts and Memorabilia
- Railroad Dining Car China: A display of various dining car china patterns used by different railroad companies, showcasing the elegant table settings and unique designs that were once a hallmark of dining aboard a train.
- Signal Equipment: The museum has a collection of various types of signal equipment, including semaphore signals, signal lights, and switch stands, which played a crucial role in maintaining the safety and efficiency of railroad operations.
- Railway Post Office (RPO) Exhibit: This exhibit offers an inside look at the Railway Post Office, where mail was sorted and processed on moving trains. Visitors can see authentic postal equipment, uniforms, and mailbags used by RPO clerks.
Highlights of the outdoor exhibits
The outdoor exhibits at the musem provide visitors with a unique opportunity to explore the variety of rolling stock, maintenance equipment, and the rail yard. Here are some highlights of the outdoor exhibits:
Restored Train Cars and Cabooses
- Central of Georgia No. 509: This restored wooden caboose, built in 1926, showcases the classic design elements of early 20th-century cabooses and gives visitors a glimpse into the living and working conditions of train crews during that era.
- Southern Railway No. X201: A restored 1940s bay window caboose, it demonstrates the evolution of the caboose design and highlights the improvements made for crew safety and comfort.
Maintenance and Repair Equipment
- Fairmont Track Speeder: These small, motorized vehicles were once a common sight on the railroads, used by maintenance crews for inspecting and repairing track. The museum has a restored Fairmont Track Speeder on display, allowing visitors to appreciate the simplicity and efficiency of this essential railroad maintenance tool.
- Wrecker Derrick Crane: This crane, designed to lift and move heavy objects such as derailed cars, is a testament to the engineering prowess of the railroad industry. The crane on display at the museum highlights the importance of having specialized equipment to maintain safe and efficient railway operations.
The museum offers train rides for visitors, providing an authentic experience of rail travel and allowing guests to immerse themselves in the history of rail transportation.
Train rides are generally offered on operating days, which are typically Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Tickets for train rides can be purchased at the museum on the day of your visit.
The museum occasionally hosts special themed train rides and events, which offer unique experiences for visitors of all ages. Some examples of special themed rides include:
- Santa Express or North Pole Express: During the holiday season, the museum may offer festive train rides where children can meet Santa Claus and enjoy holiday-themed activities onboard.
- Trick or Train: Around Halloween, the museum may host family-friendly train rides with fun, spooky decorations and activities for kids.
- Murder Mystery or Dinner Train rides: Occasionally, the museum may host special events such as murder mystery train rides or dinner trains, where guests can enjoy a themed experience while dining onboard.
Operating hours and admission fees
Typically, the museum is open on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. However, it’s essential to visit their website or contact the museum directly for the most up-to-date information on hours of operation, as they may change due to special events or other circumstances.
Please note that these special themed rides and events may be subject to change and may require advance reservations or additional fees. It is highly recommended to visit the Southeastern Railway Museum’s website or contact them directly for the most up-to-date information on train rides, schedules, and ticket prices.
How to get to Southeastern Railway Museum?
To get to the Southeastern Railway Museum, located in Duluth, Georgia, follow these directions:
Address: 3595 Buford Highway, Duluth, GA 30096
- By car
To reach the museum from Atlanta, head north on I-85 towards Greenville. Take exit 104 for Pleasant Hill Road, turning right onto it. Continue for roughly 3 miles before making a left onto Buford Highway (US-23 N). After traveling about 1.5 miles, you’ll find the museum on your left.
The musem offers ample free parking for visitors on its premises.
- By public transportation
Unfortunately, public transportation options to here are limited. There is no direct public transit to the museum, so using a car or a rideshare service is recommended for convenience.
By combining history, interactive experiences, and the opportunity to explore a wide range of railway artifacts, the Southeastern Railway Museum provides visitors with an unforgettable journey into the world of rail transportation and its impact on the development of the southeastern United States.