Railroad Museum of Long Island
|The Railroad Museum of Long Island in Riverhead gives kids a place to explore the history of railroads on Long Island through hands-on exhibits, model train displays and a vintage miniature train ride.|
Located just north of Main Street in downtown Riverhead, the Railroad Museum of Long Island is the home of a number of old rail cars and locomotives that reflect the history of railroading on Long Island. There is a large paved parking lot across the street from the Supreme Court building that offers ample space to park and it's a short walk to the museum entrance. The Bay Window Caboose was in operation on the LIRR for twenty years, and has been preserved here to give visitors an idea of the working conditions on the railroad in the sixties and seventies.
When you get inside, you may be tempted to double check those dates. The rustic interior brings to mind a nineteenth century cabin, with its coal-burning stove and bathroom that's little more than a latrine. Kids definitely find this railcar interesting, although the display could be designed better -- a single entrance onto the car means that families are working their way around one another in a very small space to get through the display.
A large model train display is a big highlight. A number of different trains wind their way through a miniature village decked out with cars, people and buildings. The trains go over little bridges and under little tunnels, and the whole display is landscaped very nicely. There's no barrier between the trains and the people viewing them, which is great for getting a close look. However, if you're kids are the grabby type you'll have a keep a close watch on them.
The museum building is housed in an old lumber yard, which has large open spaces for the restoration work that goes on at the Riverhead site (there is another site in Greenport). In addition to all the tools and equipment inside, there is a second model train display that features small renditions of Riverhead landmarks like Atlantis Marineworld and the Big Duck. The train itself has a circus theme, accentuated by the big top at the center of the railroad.
Back outside, the miniature train from the 1964 World's Fair is still making the rounds. This is a 16" gauge train that was housed at Grumman's Calverton plant following the fair for many years and then donated to the town of Riverhead (the Greenport Carousel is another family attraction from Grumman). The train circles the grounds at the museum and gives a smooth and comfortable ride. Rides are unlimited with museum admission.
The ride on the train takes you past a display of old rail cars, some of which were designed to drive on both roads and rails. The scattered placement and weathered condition of the cars has a vibe that's more scrapyard than Smithsonian, but all of the trains here were in use for many years and they look authentic by way of the wear and tear they've endured.
Across the street, there is an additional display of train cars and locomotives that are still sitting on the rails. This includes a number of LIRR passenger cars from as far back as the 1950s. One double decker car still undergoing renovations is from the early 1930s. Visitors can only go inside the most recent cars, as the other ones are still being restored.
The Railroad Museum of Long Island is open to the public on Saturday afternoons from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Admission to the Riverhead site will also get you into the Greenport site if you're making a day of it. The cost is $5 for adults and $3 for children from 5-12. Kids under five are free.
The Railroad Museum of Long IslandOfficial Site: http://www.rmli.org/
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