Don Heimburger

Something has changed on the tour group scene in the last 10 years: railroad museums are beginning to play a greater role as a destination for groups.

The reason for this is that railroad museum marketing has become smarter, and museums have spent time and money beefing up their trains to handle more riders.

Rail museums offer a variety of benefits for groups. First, they offer history, as most museums display and promote historical pieces of rail equipment, from steam locomotives to early diesel engines.

Besides the equipment, many museums offer rides from a couple of miles long to half-day trips. These trips can include meals or light snacks, and usually have an end point that in itself is scenic or historic. Some train trips ramble through snow-capped mountains, while others follow scenic rivers or skirt lakes. Larger trains can accommodate up to 200-300 people on a single trip, as most coaches have a capacity of 50 or more.