WELCOME TO OUR SITE!
Hours: Every Thursday Evening 7:00-9:00 PM
The Second and Fourth Saturday of the Month 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM
Closed on Major Holidays
The address is 3160 I Avenue. Phone (806) 335-3333.
email firstname.lastname@example.org or try the page.
Our mission is to preserve and recreate the railroad history of the Texas Panhandle through preservation and restoration of actual railroad equipment, preservation and acquisition of railroad paper items and ephemera. We have recreated the Santa Fe Railroad across the Texas Panhandle from Canadian, TX, to Clovis, NM, by construction of an HO-scale railroad layout set in the 1950-1970s era. The era was chosen to encompass the last steam locomotive operations and the advent of second-generation diesel locomotives in the area. We included cameo sections on the layout of the Rock Island and Burlington railroads.
We also strive to forge bonds with the City of Amarillo, Potter County, and like-minded local and national organizations.
In May, members of the Amarillo Railroad Museum celebrated the 33rd anniversary of the Museum’s founding. The organization has come a long way during this time and is thriving.
It all started with an announcement in the local newspaper concerning a meeting to be held for people interested in forming an HO scale model railroad club. In the earliest meetings the objective was laid-out for the club to obtain its own property on which a permanent model railroad layout could be constructed. To accomplish the stated goal of obtaining property, the dues were set at $20 per month per member so the club could accumulate some cash. Family memberships were set at $25 per month. To get the club started, a set of standards was adopted for construction of model railroad modules and several members built modules that became the club’s layout.
During the first few years the club met in storage space at an Amarillo automotive shop where one of the members worked. To grow the club, the modular railroad was displayed a few times at the Tri-State Fair and Exposition and the club also started hosting an annual Train Show. In 1996 the club hosted the Lone Star Region NMRA convention in Amarillo. The club eventually moved into an empty store in an older shopping mall in Amarillo where the modular layout was opened to the public on a regular basis.
While the organization started as a model railroad club under the name of the Amarillo Model Railroad Association, it was realized that the railroads were changing and it was decided there was a need for the club to modify it charter from just model railroading to preserve some of the railroad heritage of the Texas Panhandle region before it disappeared. In 1999, the name of the organization was changed to the Amarillo Railroad Museum and the organization was incorporated as a non-profit 501 (c ) (3) organization with the mission to preserve the rich railroad heritage of the Texas Panhandle thru the acquisition and preservation of railroad equipment and artifacts and thru model railroading.
The Museum purchased approximately 12 acres of land on the East side of Amarillo on grounds that formerly were a part of the Amarillo Air Base. The property contains a paved street and railroad track and is located directly across US Highway 60 from the BNSF (former Santa Fe) Transcon. In 2003 construction was started on a 5,000 square foot building on this property to house the Museum. A contractor built the shell of the building and members of the Museum finished the interior. Approximately 1,000 square feet inside the building was set aside for a Meeting Room, restrooms, kitchen and storage room while the remainder of the building was planned to house a new permanent model railroad layout.
Model Railroad Layout: Members of the Museum struggled with the decision concerning what to model but ultimately a decision was reached to model the Santa Fe Railroad across the Texas Panhandle set in an era between 1952 into the 1970’s. Members wanted to model the steam-to-diesel transition era and the year 1952 was selected as the starting point because the roundhouse in Canadian burned down in 1950 and the Santa Fe reconfigured the tracks at Canadian, Texas after that event. The latter end of the era was selected as several of the steam era structures still existed along the railroad and there were certain industries served by the railroad that needed to be modeled. Members will be allowed to bring any flavor of equipment to run on the layout except during formal operating sessions. The layout is equipped with a Digitrax DCC system.
The layout was professionally designed for the ARM so that outside expertise in track design could be utilized. Criteria for the layout design included a minimum radius of curvature on the main line tracks of 48-inches. The intent was and still is for the layout design to be a “blueprint” for the model railroad so that members will not be cutting the track to add new industries after it is built. The layout was designed for point-to-point operation but it has the capability for continuous running via use of a return loop located underneath the helix. The layout was designed to model several of the towns and cities served by the Santa Fe starting at Canadian, Texas thru Texico, New Mexico, covering approximately 200 miles of the railroad. Amarillo is the single largest spot on the layout and parts of the Fort Worth & Denver (BN) and Rock Island Railroads will be represented in Amarillo on the layout giving opportunities for interchange. A few branch lines are also represented.
Custom Cars: The ARM offers custom model railroad cars for sale. Proceeds from the sale of these cars have funded most of the layout construction to-date.
The "Real Thing," Railroad Rolling Stock: Prototypical rolling stock on the grounds of the ARM include a helium tank car, several cars from the “White Train,” a 1943 vintage ALCO S2 switch engine, and a Burlington Northern scale test car. The helium tank car was formerly used by the US Bureau of Mines to ship refined helium gas from local helium plants to large users such as NASA; NASA required 4 car loads of helium gas to purge the fuel tanks on the space shuttle as it was being readied for launch. The “White Train” was the name for the train used by the US Department of Energy to transport nuclear weapons and certain weapons components between the plants where the weapons were fabricated and assorted military installations. The name for the “White Train” was derived because all the cars were originally painted white in color, but in the last few years of operation of this train, the cars were painted an assortment of colors so the train would not stand-out so much from other trains on the railroad. Cars from the “White Train” at the ARM include 3 escort coaches where the armed guards rode, 6 power/buffer cars and the 1 surviving armor-plated cargo car. Tours are given inside the one of the escort coaches and the locomotive cab.
Phillip Pratt Memorial Garden Railroad: In March, 2011, Ms. Carol Abraham approached the Museum about donating her son’s G-scale train set for display at the Museum; her son had passed away a year earlier. ARM President Bob Roth explained there were no set plans for displays at that time since most of the effort at the Museum was on being spent on the construction of the HO scale layout however he noted long range plans for the development of a garden railroad that would incorporate G-scale trains. An hour after Carol left the Museum she called back and generously offered to fund the construction of the garden layout. The layout is a popular attraction for young and old. It is generic, but especially thrilling for kids.
In 2023, the local hobby shop, that had a extensive inventory of model railroading items, closed. The owner graciously donated many items to the Museum. Of special interest was an automated, coin-operated N-scale layout. With this donation, the museum now operates layouts in G, HO, and N scales, giving visitors the opportunity to see the broad range of sizes model railroading encompasses.