Is there anything quite like the sound of a wood-fired train roaring to life, it's smoke billowing out into the open sky as it lurches down the track?
If you happen to work at or visit the Union Pacific Railroad Museum, your answer just might be, "No."
And this week, the museum announced it would kick off its seasonal, free family events that will take place from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. every Friday from May through August.
Each Friday the evening will center on a theme and include a variety of family friendly activities.
According to the Omaha World-Herald, this Friday's event is themed, "All in a Day's Work." Those who attend can participate in a variety of events including mail sorting, cracking a "secret" code and decorating park ranger badges.
What's the Museum All About?
The Union Pacific museum is home to three different exhibits: "America Travels by Rail", "The Lincoln Collection" and "Building America".
You'll want to stop by America Travels by Rail. The exhibit covers about 40 years of domestic travel by train. Among the dining, lounge and coach cars on display, you'll get to see thousands of artifacts. One of the highlights? A vintage Union Pacific china collection as well as uniforms, menus and furniture.
The Abraham Lincoln exhibit is no slouch, either. In fact, the museum came into being after someone found a few silver pieces from the president's rail car.
Some of the highlights of the exhibit are a rocking chair that used to sit in one of Lincoln's law offices, as well as furniture built for his car. We took a look at the museum's brochure for the Lincoln items, and it's pretty incredible. one of our favorites is a silver serving set used in the president's car.
Another cool, yet tragic, item is a banner procured from the president's funeral procession. The script on the artifact includes one of Lincoln's most famous quotes:
"With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right. Let us finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds..."
If you're the type that likes to do some research before visiting a museum, check out these pair of links:
Staying on Track: A Little Train History
If you're a newbie to the railroad world, it helps to have a quick briefing on the industry.
Railroads first popped up in the United States in the early 1800's....1815, to be exact, according to the experts at American-Rails.com. That year, a man named Colonel John Stevens won the contract to build the first railroad line in North America. Stephens also was the first person in America to test a steam locomotive.
It took 17 years for that first line to be built, but in that time a lot had changed. Stevens did full-scale testing of steam engines, as did a guy named Horatio Allen.
By 1840, nearly 3,000 miles of track had been laid! However, the rail industry was still in its experimental stages. Forty years later, more than 50,000 of railroad tracks criss-crossed the land.
Over the next hundred years, the industry rose, fell and rose again, passing through what's known as the "Golden Age" and moving into the "Silver Age".
As other forms of transport became more popular, rail companies merged and consolidated in the 1960's and 1970's. Just one decade later, however, deregulation of the industry led to a rail Renaissance.
Want More? Head to the Museum
As we said, free Friday family nights will happen from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. every Friday through August. If you're interested in getting more involved with the museum, check out their Union Pacific Railroad Museum patron's page.