Great Plains Transportation Museum, Kansas

After walking around downtown Wichita, we finally or I finally decided to visit one of the museums located in the area. The clouds were getting dark and we passed by this museum earlier and since we were heading back to the car, I went inside while Deelow and Corvo walked around the block.

I went inside where it was a little cool and we paid $7 plus tax. I didn’t look at the exhibits inside, went out to see the great trains themselves. As I ask inquire and walk out here is the history of how the museum came to be.

History of the station

The Great Plains Transportation Museum, Inc., (GPTM), incorporated in 1983, was an outgrowth of the former Great Plains Railway Museum, which was closed in 1977 and placed into storage when it lost its home on the second floor of Union Station.  At the time, Union Station was to undergo an extensive renovation through an urban renewal project and the Railway Museum was to eventually have a place in the Union Station building again. The new home in the Union Station building never materialized, so a small group of railroad enthusiasts decided that if there were to be a railroad-oriented museum in Wichita, it would be necessary to incorporate a new museum.

In the meantime, the City of Wichita sold the former Union Station building to Multi Media Cable Vision.  The sale of Union Station included former Santa Fe locomotive 3768, which the cable company did not need for its business, so they donated it to the Museum. 

There were a couple of other locomotives and trains in grounds and at account the museum’s collection includes 6 locomotives and several pieces of rolling stock used on freight and passenger trains.

  • Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway 4-8-4 steam locomotive #3768.
  • Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway EMD SDFP45 diesel locomotive #93.
  • Burlington Northern Railroad EMD NW2 diesel locomotive #421 (Ex-St. Louis – San Francisco Railway #261)
  • Various other diesel locomotives
  • An electric locomotive
  • A drover’s car
  • A tank car
  • Maintenance of way equipment
  • A Postal storage car
  • A heavyweight baggage car
  • Various types of cabooses

The steam locomotive was a feature attraction the Museum needed before opening its doors to the public.  Already on hand from the former Great Plains Railway Museum were a Frisco wooden caboose, a Santa Fe drovers’ car, and a former KG & E electric locomotive.  The Burlington Northern Railroad had donated a former Frisco switcher locomotive that was sitting in storage on their property.

Santa Fe 93

“Santa Fe diesel locomotive #93 was one of nine FP-45 passenger diesels built in 1967 by General Motor’s Electro Motive Division (EMD) for Santa Fe. Originally numbered #103, it served for 31 years, and was assigned several different numbers and paint schemes. The FP-45 was a variation of similar EMD freight locomotive designs. However, it was geared for passenger train speeds, and included a steam generator (item 21), which was used for climate control in passenger cars.”

Santa Fe Locomotive

I explored around the locomotives, entering and looking inside. Taking pictures and then I went back inside the building and looked at the exhibits from parts of a train, to rail tracks, lights and anything related to railroads and its vehicles. As I walk here is the continuation the museum’s history.

A volunteer crew erected a fence in the summer of 1985 for enclosing the property and to protect the outdoor displays.  Because the Museum would also need some office space, gift shop space, and indoor display space, a lease for a small portion of the Player Piano building was also negotiated. 

Doors were first opened to the public in December 1986.  The Museum held a “Grand Opening” the following June and by then a small admission was charged instead of relying only on donations and gift shop sales for income. 

After its official opening the GPTM has acquired additional rolling stock over the years — such as two industrial locomotives, some cabooses, a tank car, and a former Santa Fe diesel electric locomotive — and various artifacts and memorabilia, and books. 

In addition to visitors from the Wichita and the nearby surrounding area, there have been visitors from other parts of Kansas, numerous other states, and a variety of foreign countries.”

It didn’t take much long for me to look around the museum, and even though there were some souvenirs to be bought. I held myself from doing so. I went out and look for Deelow and Corvo since the rain have start sprinkling.

Here are the links for more information:

Say Cheez!

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