The National Museum of Transportation is often overlooked in St. Louis with everything else that can be found in the city, but it shouldn’t be. The museum has been open since 1944 by a group of people who acquired the Bellefontaine mule drawn street car. Coincidentally, this is also the first vehicle you will see inside. The land sits on old Barrett Station in St Louis County and the Missouri Pacific Railroad. The goal of the museum is to protect and preserve our past to teach our children and future generations about the history of transportation in the United States. The Museum of Transportation uses the exhibits, artifacts, education programs, and more to encourage the learning of mass transportation to people who visit.
Entering the Museum of Transportation
When you first get to the Museum of Transportation, you’ll see the mini train track in the parking lot. There is also a caboose outside the entrance, and a model car with signage. Off to the side there is a arrrowtrain and three steamrollers. You can walk around and walk through the caboose before even getting into the museum along with blowing the whistle or ringing the bell.
When walking into the Museum of Transportation, my eye first caught was the Bellefontaine mule drawn street car as this was the neighborhood I lived in till I was ten. When you walk through the double set of doors, the counter to buy tickets is straight ahead. Tickets are typical prices for attractions like these. You can sometimes find discounts on Groupon (share aff link to tickets). They do offer discounts for active military, first responders, and seniors over 65. You can add on tickets for the mini train for around $6 which includes unlimited rides all day. They have a newer thing called creation station geared towards ages 1-5 that is around $3 per person. After getting your wrist band, it’s time to enjoy the attractions!
Inside the museum to the left of the desk is a timeline and facts on the wall and a McDonald tribute on the other wall that goes around the corner. In this corner is also the entrance to the Creation Station if you bought this extra pass. Around the corner are glass cabinets with lots of memorials and items about trains with Disney, movies and more.
There is also a little cafe here with drinks and food options. They have table and chairs inside and then a few picnic tables right outside. There is also a few vehicles including an area with a vision of the future that has the bullet train hoping to be built here in the United States. There is also a train table. Most trains are operated by a push of a button so if it’s not running, just find the button to push.
Don’t Forget to Visit Creation Station
Creation station has fun, vibrant painted murals on the wall. For this area, you’ll need an extra ticket. There are specific times you can enter to keep the total number of visitors at acceptable levels. Creation station has wooden train tracks, train crafts, ride on toys, and a climb on bus. This area is geared for ages 1-5.
Outside this first building is the path to the others including the area to jump on the mini train. This does require an extra ticket but it includes unlimited rides. So, take a ride now and then ride again at the end of the day. Also, there is a requirement to be under 48 inches tall and 110 pounds or less. While kids are waiting to try out the handcars, they’re a little street area with Little Tikes vehicles to drive for the little kids who can’t do the hand cars yet.
The mini train has a roof and the train goes around the track twice for each ride taken. There is a bridge and some airplanes, a rail bus, and other things you will see while riding the train. Cross at the train crossing and start up the path to head to the Lindburg Car Museum, the trains, and trolly if it is operating.
Check Out All the Classic Cars!
After you get to the top of the hill, you will see the Lindburg Automobile Center which holds a host of cars including a Chrysler Turbine Car. Fun fact…this car runs on corn oil, paint thinner or whiskey! There are a few videos running inside this museum to watch. Upstairs on the second level is a history timeline which was fun to see with the evolution of cars, like when eight track tapes were added and such.
The volunteers at the Museum of Transportation love to share knowledge and talk to you about the vehicles here. Across from the automobile building is the Barrett Station Depot which houses smaller railroad artifacts has a beautiful garden train and a model train exhibit. You can also talk to the clerk to go out to the parking lot to see the Douglas plane and HT Pott Towboat. I love the deck off of the train station where you can play games riddles or sit for a minute.
So Many Trains and Trolleys!
As you continue exploring the transportation museum, the rest is outside even though a lot is under cover. There are so many trains, it’s hard to take in. Many of these trains you can walk through or climb up into. As you walk up to the pavilion, there are more to see, walk through, or look in. There is also a trolley included with admission when it is running. Ran by volunteers, they have three different trolleys they run depending on the day. It was awesome to get to ride!
In the train yard, make sure to check out the worlds biggest tank car, Union Pacific snow plow, this thing is massive! Visit the cab of the Union Pacific Big Boy. Look inside the car Truman rode in as Vice President. Also make sure to check out the end of the tunnel that’s on the National Register of Historical Places. The oldest train on the property as of now is the Boston & Providence RR Daniel Nason which was from Civil War. This area you can learn and see lots of history.
Overall, the Museum of Transportation is a wonderful museum with lots to see and do. Kids will love the train rides, model railroads, and seeing different modes of transportation while the adults enjoy reading, seeing history, and model railroads too! Depending on the age of the people with you will determine how long you will be here. We went as multigenerational group from preschoolers to grandparents all had a lovely time and enjoyed it for a good part of the day. Food and drink can be brought in but only enjoyed in certain areas. I highly recommend bringing a water bottle as there is alot to see and visit.
As we love trains around here check out this post about visiting the Big Boy 4014 which is still in operation!