Thursday, June 19, 2008

Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Museum

Today was my first of my summer adventures - we took the short 20 minute drive up to Baltimore to the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Museum, right in downtown Baltimore.

If you are a train enthusiast, parent or child of a train enthusiast, or really even anyone who enjoys history (that's me) this is an amazing place to visit. I learned all sorts of things about one of my favorite cities today - such as: Baltimore is the birthplace of American railroading. Who knew? The train ride we took (in a circa 1940s MARC car) took us along the first mile of commercial railroad track in America. THAT is serious historical stuff that even my kids think is cool!! Preston didn't even move from his seat once, just watched out the window. Of course, the train doesn't go fast at all, and the view is sometimes just of the not-so-great part of Baltimore, but you go past Mount Clare Museum House as well as the big building where they are refurbishing a bunch of old train cars (there are a lot of old and run down train cars outside that my boys thought were pretty cool.)

The exhibits inside the museum itself interested my sons for only a few minutes - a lot of model train cars, original sets of dishes from the dining cars and the original train station. Outside in the roundhouse, however - HOLY COW. A massive maze of engines and cars - so many it was hard to keep track of my kids. They were fascinated and so was I. There was so many to see and the building is so tall and imposing. Nearly all of them you can look inside and several of them you can walk around in. All my kids enjoyed pretending to be engineers (there is another massive steam engine in ANOTHER building that they played in for a long time too)
There was a little movie about trains showing and a train table nearby to amuse (or completely obsess about to the point of distraction) the boys. The staff was so friendly and helpful. Not once did I hear anyone fuss about my children - telling them to watch out or not to run or to keep quiet. It really feels like they are trying to cater to families with small children - although there is MUCH to see and read for adults, I think they are just careful to be kid-friendly.

The train ride was included with the steep price of admission ($36 for the four of us) but only runs once during the day, at 11:30. There is a big open area behind the roundhouse where the kids could run around and play on a big wooden train - there's also a huge model train set-up out there that was really neat.
Around on the OTHER side are MORE cars you can go in - an old dining car, a car with a model train movie inside, a car full of an actual model train set of Baltimore which my boys were REALLY excited about, as well as a caboose you can play in.I was so surprised that we lasted so long there and I was surprised at how interested I was in the exhibits. I'm not so much into trains, but the historical aspect of it - these trains in the context of the city and the time period when they were in use is very interesting to me. The kids LOVED it. I highly recommend it to families with young kids - but, one piece of advice. Bring at least two adults. I asked my sweet friend Kellie to join me incredibly last minute and I was SO glad she came with her son and two nephews (the extra boys in these pictures!!). The space is just huge and I would've been very hard pressed to keep track of everyone with only my own set of eyes. Oh, and you can't bring in your own food, you have to buy it at their snack bar, and I hate buying snack bar food. That's why we finally went home at 1:15 :)


Michelle said...

What a great trip. James would love all the trains.

Deb said...

i'm so glad you enjoyed it! we love that place. we got a season pass, to help offset the ridiculous entrance fees.

Kellie said...

It was a good day.

NanaBuni said...

Baltimore is also the birthplace of yours truly at 9:30 am June 29, 1928 on Appleton St. in Baltimore, MD. I have several relatives buried there including my Nana Mary Doherty, my Mother Catherine Doherty O'Hare, My Aunt & God Mother Mary Josephine Doherty Pohlar and many more to numerous to include. I have visited the very same museum.