Museum of Transportation
There are more than 70 old trains in the expansive Museum of Transportation, half of them sole survivors of a bygone era. You’ll find vintage cars, horse-drawn carriages, old airplanes, buses and boats.
The collection takes up 129 acres (52 hectares) of land in West St. Louis County, 16 miles (26 kilometers) southwest of downtown. There are 10 buildings and many outdoor displays, as well as four miles (six kilometers) of railroad siding, two man-made tunnels and a research library. History buffs should allow at least half a day to explore the site.
The railroad exhibit makes up the bulk of the museum’s collection. It’s divided into five main areas: Freight Cars; Interurban and City Transit; Passenger Cars; Rail Maintenance and Test Cars; and Rail Motive Power. Climb aboard the sleeping quarters of a caboose or admire the largest working steam train ever made. An example of the streamline 1950s Aerotrain, designed by General Motors, is here, alongside a 1939 Silver Charger, one of the last shovel-nosed engines.
There are more than 200 road vehicles at the museum, all housed under the one roof. The centerpiece of the car collection is a vintage 1901 vehicle built by the St. Louis Motor Carriage Co. There are thought to be only nine of these vehicles still in existence. One of only 55 Chrysler Turbine cars ever made is also on display.
Daily guided tours are free and no reservation is required. Tours specifically for kids are run on Tuesdays and Thursdays during summer. A miniature train operates on site March through November. It’s not included in the price of a museum entrance.
The Museum of Transportation is open year-round, but hours vary depending on the season. (Check the website for details.) Many of the most impressive trains are outdoors, so come prepared for all types of weather and wear comfortable walking shoes. A bus from downtown takes about an hour, and there’s also plenty of free parking on-site.