A Community Museum in Gaithersburg, Maryland

Throughout the US, several towns have preserved their railroad stations and made them into small museums. Right near Washington, DC is a good example of this trend: Gaithersburg, Maryland. It is called the “Gaithersburg Community Museum”, located in the former freight depot on the mainline from Washington DC to Chicago.

 The Museum logo on the side of the caboose.  

The Museum logo on the side of the caboose.  

The original train station right next to it still exists, featuring a sandwich and coffee shop, as well as a ticket machine for MARC – the commuter train service run by the State of Maryland. According to the flier available at the museum, the station complex was built in 1884. Gaithersburg itself was incorporated in 1878. The tracks through the town still serve as the main line west from Washington, and there is a platform for local MARC commuter trains to stop. During visits to the museum, it is very likely that you will see trains passing by – AMTRAK’s Cardinal, plying the route between Washington and Chicago, and CSX freight trains. 

 Metropolitan coal burning passenger / freight locomotive in front of Gaithersburg station circa 1890.  (Photo courtesy:  Smithsonian Institution )

Metropolitan coal burning passenger / freight locomotive in front of Gaithersburg station circa 1890.  (Photo courtesy: Smithsonian Institution )

 Gaithersburg, Maryland train station.  

Gaithersburg, Maryland train station.  

 The freight depot turned museum . Notice that there is still an active platform for MARC commuter trains. 

The freight depot turned museum . Notice that there is still an active platform for MARC commuter trains. 

The City of Gaithersburg purchased the train station and freight depot in 1984 – one hundred years after they were built. The restoration project was well done, with original features retained throughout the buildings. Inside the Community Museum are exhibits concerning the history of the city, including early maps showing who owned the varied parcels of land.

 Inside the Gaithersburg Community Museum. 

Inside the Gaithersburg Community Museum. 

The outside exhibits consist of a preserved steam engine, a Budd Company RDC 3 and a caboose. The steam engine is well-painted and maintained, but it is obvious that it will never run again. Here is information from the flier available at the museum: 

The Buffalo Creek and Gauley website makes for interesting reading. For the link click here.

 A view of #14 outside the museum.

A view of #14 outside the museum.

 The tender showing the railroad's name.

The tender showing the railroad’s name.

The caboose is open to the public and contains some interesting exhibits. It shows pictures of caboose life and operations. Also on display is an end-of-train device, sometimes called FRED, typical of those now deployed throughout on US railroads. It was the introduction of such devices that precipitated the demise of cabooses.

 Flier from the Museum

Flier from the Museum

 Inside the caboose 904152.

Inside the caboose 904152.

 An FRED (end of train device) in the caboose that you can turn on (as shown here).  More detail about how end-of-train devices work can be found  here .

An FRED (end of train device) in the caboose that you can turn on (as shown here). More detail about how end-of-train devices work can be found here .

The RDC 3 is also open to the public. The brochure about it, which is available at the Museum, states: 

 The RDC 3 at the museum. 

The RDC 3 at the museum. 

 Seating in the RDC 3.

Seating in the RDC 3.

One of the two “driving cab ends” of the RDC 3.

Although it is a small museum, it is definitely worth a visit. It’s website is www.gaithersburgmd.gov. The Museum is open 10 am through 3 pm, Tuesday through Saturday. The address is 9 S. Summit Ave., Gaithersburg, Md. – right in the heart of the small, original downtown.

All photos by Ralf Meier with an iPhone 6 Plus. 

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