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