Toppenish Railway Museum

Toppenish Railway Museum

Mary O’Dell believes preserving history helps with community identity, that’s why she started working at the railway museum in Toppenish, Wash. almost 30 years ago.

Full Transcript

My husband and I were driving through Toppenish, about 27 years ago or so, and we saw that this depot was open, and so we stopped to see, and I regret to say I asked, is there anything we can do? And I haven’t left since.

The building was built in 1911 as were most of the buildings in the Yakima Valley, they were all built around the 1911 to 1915 time period. And they were all serving local communities. Most of these communities were seven miles apart, and they had a depot every seven miles. And that was to bring goods and services in and out.

It’s not always possible to predict the future, but we can see the different things that history has, how it has impacted us, and how human beings impact history, and so a lot of what we do here is to show people what it was like to live, like the kids say, back in the day.

This car that we have right now is a combination sleeper car and a lounge car, and it’s really exciting, and so I would like this car to be like it used to be. It’s close, but I would like it to be repainted and all of the features in it restored.

We have people from every country that are here. The Germans particularly come because they are still entranced with the Wild West, and Toppenish is the town where the West still lives. And so they gravitate towards our museum, the mural tours, a lot of the landscape around them is exactly what they’ve been looking for. So they find us, and they come.

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