All ABOARD!!! When in Savannah with kids, Georgia State Railroad Museum is a must do attraction! Even without kids, its a museum that will take you back in time when railroad was king.
The museum is the oldest and largest existing nineteenth century railroad operations complex in the US. Construction began in 1850 and thirteen of the original structures remain today. If you are in to photography, take the good camera as the grounds offer some amazing photo opportunities of not only the train cars on the property, but the buildings and the shell of some of the original buildings which stand. You don’t have to be an adult to appreciate the history of this complex: it contains five building with permanent exhibits which include a roundhouse with its operating turntable, steam and diesel locomotive rail cars, steam-powered machinery, model railroads, and many different type of railroad cars you can go inside for a closer look. Originally home to the Central Georgia Railway, this complex handled freight, passengers, manufacturing and maintenance.
Here is a quick glimpse of what you can expect to see a short video from Savannah’s Coastal Heritage Society:
Located across the road from the Savannah Visitor’s Center where parking is free, this museum is next to other attractions including the Savannah Children’s Museum and the Savannah History Museum. NOTE, the Visitor’s center is a great place to start your trip as it includes maps, guides and is a starting place for many city tours on trolleys and buses. We took a leisurely stroll from our hotel which was many blocks away – it is flat but our daughter was anxious to see the trains so she complained with the “are we there yet!”. We enjoy seeing Savannah from a slow walking pace, however it is easily reached by car if you need to drive.
We purchased our tickets in the gift shop and decided sadly only had time for the train museum, we had to skip the Children’s Museum. You can easily do both in a day. Once inside the railroad museum, we were lured by the roundabout and the sound of a train whistle. People had boarded the passenger car attached to engine 119 and we asked if we could ride. The train was full, but were given passes to the next time to ride, at no extra cost. TIP: Before you go, make sure you check out the schedule of rides on the Georgia Train Museum Website for 2015 here. They are not offered every day, and some days steam engine, some days diesel.
While we waited we toured the many types of restored train cars. My daughter LOVED the caboose and the refrigerated car. Each car had information about its use and where it came from. I can say I had never had been in a box car before and it was interesting to read about the history of the particular car I was on and the general purpose of each type of car posted in the self tour cars.
To go inside the company passenger and company cars, must be on a guided tour which offered at different times during the day. This is included with admission and not to be missed; be sure you make a note of the times. Inside these is a time warp back to original decor and items found on the cars when originally used. It a step back in time seeing bedding, clothing, dishes, furniture and bathrooms complete with shower in the company cars. So different from business travel today, though I suppose it was the Lear jet of its time!
When walking the grounds, we came across a blacksmith demonstration amidst the walls of buildings that were no longer fully standing. The museum grounds are truly a visual historic feast and my husband was kicking himself that he had left the “good camera” back at our hotel. We went in February, we were bundled up as most of the touring is outside. Pick a sunny day to visit as the blue sky background showcases the facilities.
Our time to board the diesel engine on the roundabout came and we found our seats in the open air car. Once the engine started we were excited to spin around to the track that took us across the yard to a large building that was formally maintenance of the cars. While we moved heard about the history of the area – going back as far as revolutionary times and the importance of trains in Savannah’s economic history. I wondered if my daughter was bored, nope, she was enjoying being on a train and was listening. We did too!
If you are a fan of trains or a fan of older buildings or a fan history, the Georgia State Railroad Museum is a must when in Savannah. Well worth the admission, which is budget friendly and entertaining for the entire family – including multi-generation trips. The location next to the visitor’s center, other attractions,free parking make it budget friendly in both your vacation dollars and time. The museum is located next to Savannah’s Revolutionary War Battlefield – yes, more opportunity to take in the city’s history. You can read about things in a book, but being able to walk in the buildings and the cars, is a invaluable way to visualize the rich history of Savannah and Georgia. As a positive, your support helps preserve the history for generations to come as they are continually purchasing new exhibits and restoring old railroad cars.
Great place for adults and children alike.
Hours of Operation:
Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Day
655 Louisville Road
Savannah, GA 31401
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