Wednesday, September 4, 2019
The Bellingham Railway Museum, located in downtown Bellingham, is a smallish museum tucked in between a parking garage and other small shops. After turning down the street were Google Maps showed the museum, I realized quarters would be needed to feed one of the many parking meters lining the downtown Bellingham streets. Luckily, I spotted one of my bank’s branches. The branch had a tiny parking lot. After parking, I went inside for a roll of quarters.
After parking and feeding the meter, I walked two blocks to the museum. Inside, next to the door, was a man behind the desk reading. After a moment, he looked up, startled, wondering how long I had been standing there. Without a word, I handed him a ten and smiled, “One adult please.”
Past the desk, looking to the right, were bookshelves crammed with railroad related books. Children were everywhere. Mostly the kids were all preschool aged and were attended by helicopter parents.
Ignoring the other visitors, I surveyed the train layouts. The museum’s modelers have a sense of humor. Tyrannosaurus Rex riding around in a rail car on an S Gauge track. Not exactly Jurassic Park but fun nonetheless. An obvious Easter egg.
The level of detail on the S gauge layout was pleasing. The details are what make the model realistic.
Two trains circled the S gauge tracks. The one above, a short passenger train pulled by a steam engine was a bit clownish.
The other train, a modern engine pulling old fashioned passenger cars also seemed a little out of place. But at least they were going round and round at a pretty good clip.
The BNSF engine should have been pulling freight, not passengers.
The above street scene was well done.
The artistry in these street scenes is hypnotizing. It is easy to spend hours staring at the detail, moving the eyes around and around looking for flaws, imperfections and little surprise Easter eggs.
Take the lumber mill scene above. Are alligators, sea lion or giant green frogs common around lumber mills? Which, if any of these are Easter eggs? Purposefully included details, humorously added, to confound the viewer.
For those out-of-towners staying at Larrabee State Park, seeing an RV in the model would be a bit familiar. Large noisy trains thunder through Larrabee State Park multiple times each day.
The deer in the lumber camp above seems a little out of place. There weren’t any Sasquatches hidden in the trees behind the lumber camp.
The hobo camp also had a deer in it. No Sasquatches.
The other train layout used Lionel O gauge trains and features. Over the years, Lionel has produced some nifty electromechanical gadgets to make operating their trains more interesting.
A control center, not shown, allowed visitors to activate crossing gates, switches, lights and more. The control center was constantly attended to by a child and a hovering parent. The kids really liked the feedback from operating the controls.
Pictures, maps and posters were hung on the walls. Below the wall hangings were displays. One of the museum founders, who passed away, hand made a number of the trains to scale. His reproductions are flawless. Above, on the wall, are images, maps and descriptions of how railroads fit into the Bellingham area’s history.
With the pictures and descriptions, the area’s railroad transportation history comes into focus. Very educational and well done.
Another wall had passenger service advertising. In the sixties, we took the train a few times back and forth between Seattle where we lived and the Tri-Cities where aunts, uncles and cousins lived. Riding the observation cars through the scenic Cascade Mountains was always memorable.
The display space below the ads contained examples of place settings used in dining cars. As a child, we never ate in dining cars. We brought food with us for the four to six hour train ride.
This museum provides a pleasant place to spend two hours. A number of good looking restaurants are within a two block radius.
Hope to see you on the road ahead!