Iowa

History–

Site

Visit

Assignment
Kimberly Richman

Trainland, USA
A Great Visit
My parents live in the small town of Colfax, amazed with the size of the museum. You Iowa. They had been telling me for months that I can see a counter with a cash register in should visit a museum that they have in town. front of you, and beyond that there is nothing They had been out to it (a but trains that train museum) and had seem to go on really enjoyed it. I deand on for miles. cided that it was worth a The museum visit. Railroads have probably takes helped to populate this up the square state and really were an footage of a couimportant part of Iowa‟s ple of fairly large history. There was a time houses put next when the sound of ento each other. gine whistles wailed The center of the across Iowa farmlands. museum inTrainland USA is a great place to visit! At this time, I decided cludes exhibits that this would be a great from two eras of time: the frontier era and the steam era. The idea for a site visit. diesel era runs along the outside or border of Trainland USA is a toy train museum located the museum. in Colfax, Iowa. I did some background research. A local Colfax man, Red Atwood, began collecting Not only can you view the authentic Lionel O gauge trains when he was a young boy. As Lionel trains, but all of the scenery is handtime passed by, Red‟s collection grew larger and painted and intricately detailed. It is really larger. His collection got so big, that Red started just spectacular to view. You feel like you‟re dreaming of building one of the world‟s largest a child again! Everything is encased in glass model railroads. In 1976, Red began building a and each section of the country is labeled. new home to accommodate his dream. In 1981, For instance, there is an area labeled, “Eastern United States”, an area that depicts his dream came true. “Nebraska” and another area that simulates The really cool thing about Trainland is that “Washington and Oregon”, just to name a it is an operating train museum. Everything is few areas. working and moving when you go in to view things! Trainland was obviously aptly named because it There are control panels that create depicts the development of the railroad across the an automated system. You can hit levers to make the trains begin their trek. There are country. also push buttons that you can push throughWhen you enter, you‟re immediately

out the museum to make different cool things happen. It‟s really awesome just to hit a lever and watch everything closely to see what is going to happen next. When you push a button or lever, it is not marked, so you have no idea what sort of motion you just set out into play. It‟s really quite exciting! All the railroad pieces and trains are original and they are authentic pieces. They date from 1916 to 1976. One of the things that I liked the most was all of the attention to detail. In a winter scene, there were ice skaters that seemed to be really skating. In an „Old West‟ scene, there were gunfighters in a fight where it seemed as if the bullets were really being fired. It was so realistic! It made you want to come back with a niece or nephew who would appreciate the detail as much as you do! It really was awesome! They also had historic landmarks in the appropriate areas of the country that were done extremely well to look like the real object. There was a realistic looking Mount Rushmore and a White House. There were also some trolley cars in the San Francisco section of the train museum. There‟s even part of the museum (I think it may have been in Nebraska) where a little boy is flying a kite and the kite is actually flying. I wondered how they made all of these things happen. There were so many trees, vehicles, bicycles, telephone poles, telegraph poles, people, and accessories around the trains that everything looked like it was so real and right from a certain place and in a certain era. It was just like being in a “visual” and interactive history book. How cool is that? Parts of the museum and parts of the country were dark at times (as it was night) while others were bright as it was daylight. I was able to talk to Red‟s wife after I toured the museum about what went into putting the museum together and about her husband‟s passion. She spoke about Red‟s long hours and how he was still a child at heart. She also gave me a few stats about the museum. There is over 2600 square feet of display area that comprises Trainland USA. Red used 4,000 foot of track, 25,000 foot of wire, and 2.5 tons of plaster in building his dream. The hours spent away from the house on this project? COUNTLESS… REFLECTIONS The trains were magnificent to look at. The museum was creatively organized in a way that taught it‟s guests about trains, parts of the country, landmarks, and history. It was a very unique place to visit. It was also fun to have so many user-controlled switches, levers, and buttons to push and pull. This made everything exciting and new. You didn‟t know what would be happening next. The employees there were also very friendly and knowledgeable, especially Mrs. Atwood, who was so enthusiastic! I also liked the extensive detail in everything, from the detail on the license plates on the small cars to the tiny baby that a mother held that seemed to be really crying! I was really amazed! This is a place that I would love to bring my preschool students to or some younger family members to. I did my site visit early on. Unfortunately, Trainland is not open year-round.

Bibliography

I interviewed Karen Clark by telephone on Wednesday , September 3rd, 2009 at 7:00 pm. Ms. Clark resides in Colfax and had information about Trainland USA. <Interview Duration 15 minutes> I interviewed Kathie and Curt Warrick of Colfax, Iowa about Trainland. The interview took place on Wednesday evening, September 3rd at 7:40 pm. (They came over to my house and the interview was done in person.) Kathie and Curt Warrick live near Trainland USA and have been there many times before. <Interview Duration 30 minutes>

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