History

Colorado Model Railroad Museum

Our History

While just three years old, David G. Trussell lost his father during the Battle of the Bulge during the latter stages of World War II. Born from this family tragedy was an interest in trains and model railroading that has lasted Trussell a lifetime. His mother moved back in with her folks in the tiny Missouri town of Shelbina where her father worked as the station agent for the Burlington Railroad. In the ensuing years David was a regular fixture at his granddad’s depot, growing up to the sound of telegraph keys, the dependable ticking of the huge station clock gracing a marble lined waiting room and the roar of passing trains.

In 1949 his mother remarried, and the family moved to the Ozarks, but Trussell’s interest in trains didn’t wane. Imagine his excitement when he encouraged his cub scout pack to wrangle a ride on the final passenger train run from Osceola to Lowry City and back, a staggering distance of five miles.

As his family moved from the Ozarks, David maintained his railroad hobble interests and created his first scratch-built HO scale structure while in high school. After college he served as a lieutenant in the United States Army, including a 1965-66 stint in Vietnam, where he managed to hop a ride on an armored train from Saigon to an air base some 30 miles distant just to appease his appetite for visiting railroads.

Many home layouts followed after his discharge, each one larger and more detailed than its predecessor. These culminated in the building of a giant modular model railroad big enough to fill an entire gymnasium. The layout was transported in two trailers and visited sites from Kansas City, Missouri, to Seattle, Washington. While in Seattle at the Train Show portion of the National Model Railroad Association Convention his Denver, Greeley and Tahoe layout earned the ultimate first place show ribbon. By this time there was a skilled core group of volunteers from the Northern Colorado area who became the original volunteers for what is now the Colorado Model Railroad Museum.

After a 32-year career in journalism publishing more than a half dozen newspapers in the western United States, in 2002, Trussell sold his newspaper stock and “retired”. The idea of returning something positive to the community was born during a discussion with Kenny Monfort, a successful businessman in the Greeley, Colorado, area who urged him to return something of lasting value to the local community. Taking Kenny’s suggestion to heart, David took stock of his talents and the idea of designing and building the “Greeley Freight Station Museum” (eventually the Colorado Model Railroad Museum) was born.

Ground was broken for the museum in 2002 and construction required his total commitment for the next seven years as the 10,000 square foot facility and its contents took shape, sometimes at an inch-at-a-time pace.

Becoming a 501(c)3 non-profit entity in 2008 the museum was filled with railroad artifacts and revealed to the public during a grand opening conducted on Memorial Day weekend in 2009. Since that time more than 125,000 visitors have enjoyed what former Model Railroader Magazine Senior Editor Jim Hedinger says is “…the finest model railroad I’ve ever seen”.

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