If your kids are train-obsessed, you definitely need to put The Railway Museum of Greater Cincinnati on your must-visit list.
The Railway Museum of Greater Cincinnati is located in Latonia, KY, at the former Louisville and Nashville Railroad yard. The museum is entirely volunteer-run and owns and maintains an impressive collection of authentic trains and railroad equipment.
This hidden gem was founded in 1975 when a club of local railroad enthusiasts decided to run passenger cars on Amtrak trains. However, in the 1980’s, Amtrak tightened its restrictions on passenger cars, making it too difficult (and expensive) for the club members to continue running their recreational rides.
Therefore, this group shifted its focus from railroad excursions to the preservation of equipment that belonged to the seven railroads that passed through the Queen City. The original passenger cars remained — and today there are roughly 80 trains, artifacts and pieces of equipment at the museum, including sleeping cars, box cars, dining cars, switchers, diesel locomotives and even an old railway post office.
These trains are magnificently large and stunning to see in person. Inside the cars, you’ll find original seats, gears and even sinks, all very well-preserved and maintained. The majority of the collection is from the first half of the 20th century, which is obvious by the Art Deco feel and design of the trains.
History aside, there is so much for kids to do and experience at this museum:
Some vehicles are designated as “climb aboard” cars, welcoming guests to walk through a passenger car or sit in the engineer’s seat.
Kids will love “driving” the trains and peeking through the windows. These cars are stunning and well-preserved; when you sit inside, you’ll be transported to a different time and place.
While not every train interior is accessible, most of the trains have exterior areas to explore — and kids will get a kick out of climbing the stairs and platforms.
It’s so fun for kids to be able to climb so many different types of trains, including a caboose, baggage cart and old viewing platform.
With no trains running on these rails, kids can be free to run and explore this living history museum.
It’s fun watching kids look around and get so excited about the various trains. A word of caution: wear sneakers and socks — and pants, if possible. This is a real, authentic rail yard, so there are rocks, pieces of glass and coal, stray nails and splintered wood on the ground. As long as you walk carefully and assist your kids with the climbing/uneven areas, you should be fine!
When you arrive, signs point you to the “office,” an old train car containing a donation box and maps. The museum asks for $4/adult and $2/child under 10 (cash only), and you’ll drop your cash into the donation box. Tours are self-guided; however, if you can, find a volunteer to show you around. We were lucky enough to go on a day when a few volunteers were working, and relished in the wealth of knowledge these guys shared.
The Railway Museum of Greater Cincinnati is a living history lesson that lets kids touch, feel and interact with the past. For kids, there is simply no better place in Cincinnati to experience trains. The glory and scale of these magnificently manufactured machines is on full display at The Railway Museum, which continues to thrive with the support of dedicated volunteers, curious kids and the everlasting allure of the lovely locomotive.