As we pull into the parking lot, we see a couple of train tops, a mostly ivy covered fence and a makeshift mural of a train. If we had judged the Orange Empire Railway Museum by its cover we would have never made it through the entrance. Thankfully we did not and what a surprise!
The grounds are nicely maintained with old growth trees that provide plenty of shady areas to sit and enjoy a picnic or just enjoy the scenery and the fresh air. It’s okay to let the kids loose to run and play in the large grassy park. The six carhouses within the museum are home to a large part of California’s railway history. Curators and volunteers share their pride and enthusiasm for each car’s history with museum visitors.
The walking tour that we took was voluntarily guided; if you have little ones, a stroller is highly recommended. The details of each of the train’s history and specifications are given as though all of the museum’s visitors are the trains’ engineers.
The best part of the visit is the train and trolley ride. We needed a ticket to ride and at reasonable prices it is definitely worth it! The excitement in my two- and three-year-olds faces’ is absolutely unforgettable. Being a Thomas lover, my two-year-old son had a permanent smile affixed to his face–couldn’t even talk. When he got to the stairs of the train, he insisted on scrambling up them himself. Once in, he snatched the first seat he could (just in case we changed our minds and decided to leave).
The conductor greets all of the train’s passengers as they enter and take their seats. Due the fact that many people are museum phobic there were plenty of window seats to choose from. There is nothing like riding in a vintage train with your children to help you forget about dire straits, at least for the fifteen-minute ride.
The trolley usually has plenty of window seats to choose from, as well, and is equally enjoyable. The driver also greets every passenger as they enter and offers a hand of assistance if needed. As the ride begins, so does the history. The trains that are housed there suddenly come to life as their stories are told by the trolley driver.
The experience is unforgettable. In the museum’s gift shop the upcoming events can be found at the front counter. Thomas the Steam Engine is scheduled to visit in November and they have special Christmas events with Santa Claus. There are many other events hosted by the museum such as vintage car shows. The museum also offers “Caboose” birthday parties.
If you are interested in learning more about Orange Empire Railway Museum visit their website at http://www.oerm.org/.