A Passion for Locomotives

The Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden

Article by Allison Bankston

Photography by Rebecca Sloan Photography

Originally published in Arvada Lifestyle

When your kids are young, much of your life revolves around them, and you're always looking for fun things to do as a family. Dr. Michael Berger of Berger Orthodontics is the father of two: Max is about to turn three and Gemma is two months old. Dr. Berger and his wife, Dr. Crystal Kim, are committed to doing lots of fun things in the community.

Dr. Berger and his family moved to Arvada in 2020. “Colorado has been a fun place to raise a family. There are so many great activities and places to visit that children enjoy.”

The family enjoys visiting the local aquarium, as well as hiking, skiing, and going to see live concerts. At this stage, though, things kind of revolve around Max, and he's into trains!

One of the family's favorite places to go is the Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden. They have a membership, giving them admission year-round, free train rides most days, and special ride access on member appreciation days. “Max just can't get enough of it!” says Dr. Berger. “They have a really cool garden train set— with steam and electric trains that run throughout a miniature city filled with bonsai trees.”

Dr. Berger often shares information about local activities with his patients. “I enjoy talking with parents about fun activities they do with their kids in the area, and I share the things Max enjoys. I actually learned about the train museum from my patients. During these early years in our kids’ lives, we want to build strong family bonds and make memories with them.”

Deputy Director Robert Kramer from the Colorado Railroad Museum says their main goal is to preserve and restore Colorado Railroad history. “The state wouldn't be what it is without the railroads. It dictated what areas developed and which communities became ghost towns.”

About 100,000 people visit the museum each year. It's a top-ten Denver area place to visit, and people come for lots of reasons, from families riding the trains to researchers and model train developers using the museum's extensive archive of historical information.

A lot of schools do field trips to the museum, and the organization also brings the stories of the railroad into classrooms. The museum has 16 staff members and more than 300 volunteers, so it's a strong community effort.

There are so many fascinating, historical stories, such as the Orphan Train Robert explained to us. In the 19th century on the east coast, groups of orphans were placed on trains, and throughout all the stops westward, the children were offered to families who wanted to adopt. Robert suspects his grandfather was on one of those trains. “He was orphaned in New York in 1885 and then adopted in Indiana, which is odd for that period, otherwise.”

The Colorado Train Museum is mostly an outdoor attraction with dozens of static trains. They also have three operational steam locomotives, a couple of big working diesels, and three galloping geese—which were old cars and trucks converted to rail service. On Thrilling Thursdays, the museum has reenactors on site to help you experience the time period of the locomotives.

One of the biggest attractions happens over three weekends in September and is called Day Out with Thomas. “It's the closest thing to Woodstock for toddlers that I've ever seen,” says Robert. “When the kids see Thomas as a real entity that interacts with them, the kids just lose their minds. They scream like the Beatles are in town!”

“I think doing all these fun activities sparks the imagination,” says Dr. Berger. “It's such an important part of childhood. Colorado features a lot of great outdoor activities, and we want to continue to explore our beautiful state.”

For more information on the Colorado Train Museum, visit coloradorailroadmuseum.org. And for information on Dr. Berger's practice, please check out bergerorthodontics.com.

“I think doing all these fun activities sparks the imagination. It's such an important part of childhood. --Dr. Michael Berger. 

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