Sue Kelly, executive director of the Southeastern Railway Museum, joins the Atlanta Real Estate Forum Radio podcast for the Around Atlanta segment to discuss the museum’s exhibits, activities and events. She is joined by co-hosts Carol Morgan and Todd Schnick in the studio for this week’s episode.
Sue started her involvement with the museum over nine years ago when she volunteered weekly with her son. After becoming increasingly more involved with the museum, she became the Volunteer Coordinator and then the Director of Operations before becoming the Executive Director.
Located in Duluth, the museum is a 501C3 non-profit that provides an educational atmosphere that vividly brings to life the cultural, technical and historical aspects of the transportation system. The museum was founded over 60 years ago by a group of railroad veterans who started the Save the 290 Club. The aim of this organization was to save the 290 engine, and it later turned into the Atlanta chapter of the National Railway Historic Society. Artifacts found in the museum were originally located throughout Georgia but were consolidated to the museum in the late 1900s.
Activities and Events
The museum offers a variety of activities and events for children of all ages. Railroad Speeder Day is coming up on July 17 and 18 hosted by the Southeastern Railcar Operators Association. During the event, motorcars are brought in that were once used to inspect railroads and kids can take a ride on a real speeder car.
The Antique Typewriter Showcase is happening on July 24. The Antique Typewriter Collectors Group brings in an assortment of antique typewriters. Attendees will have the chance to type on different kinds of typewriters, as well as purchase them and get to know how their history relates to the railroad system.
From August 6 – 8, the museum offers an event that will capture every child’s heart. Guests are invited to bring in their tractors and trucks and kids can explore all the different types, including all the trains at the museum. The event also has food and live music for guests to enjoy.
“It’s a whole festival of all things antiques and, of course, trains. Even if you’re a kid or young at heart, it’s a fun festival,” said Kelly.
The museum has over 90 pieces of railway equipment, as well as tractors, busses and antique artifacts such as uniforms and plates. The museum recently acquired the Marco Polo Pullman Car which was built in 1927 and is one of six cars that are named after early explorers. These types of cars were built to carry passengers of high class and were known as the “Air Force One” of its day. The museum also offers scheduled tours of the Marco Polo Pullman Car, which is being prepared to become a permanent exhibit.
Museum upkeep is a necessary part of preserving the museum’s history. Most of the care and maintenance of the trains is funded by ticket sales. Memberships are also offered to help maintain the museum, and members can become a part of the history. The gift shop also supports the museum, as well as professional photographers who come in and film the exhibits for different projects.
The museum also offers several volunteer opportunities, and the current volunteers have completed a total of over 17,000 hours of work toward the museum’s mission! They started a campaign called Fast Track to the Future to help expand the museum, and have a goal of raising $1 million over the next five years.
“It’s our way to enhance and expand the museum,” said Kelly. “We’re going to enhance the educational experience, improve and expand the exhibits, modernize the museum for growth and hopefully, get professional staff.”
The museum offers many sessions of summer camps. Summer Rail Camp is open to children ages 5 – 12 and this year’s theme is Classic Trains. The camp includes crafts, games, snacks and opportunities to ride on the trains.
Listen to the full interview above for more information. To learn more about upcoming events and how to get involved in the museum, visit www.train-museum.org
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