Iron Spike Train Museum has the “best” year to date | Business
After being named AAA Travel Treasure of the Midwest in October 2018, the Iron Spike Model Train Museum in Washington has started to see an increase in attendance.
“This has clearly been our best year,” said Claire Saucier, co-founder.
The museum’s busiest day was December 29 with 151 visitors and the second busiest day was December 22 with 147 visitors.
“The last two months of the year represented 2,300 visitors,” said Saucier. “We attribute that to the AAA article because as soon as this article came out, we went from 100 people per week to 300 people. You can check out our connection logs and they all reference (the article). “
Saucier said attendance increased 26.6% in 2018 from the previous year.
“We’re way ahead of what I thought we would be two years from now,” said Don Burhans, co-founder.
The museum welcomed 6,357 visitors in 2018.
“We are on track to grow significantly in 2019,” Saucier said.
The museum’s volunteer hours also increased in 2018. There was a 15 percent increase with 12,600 hours recorded. The museum has around 40 active volunteers.
“Some of the volunteers come once a week,” said Burhans, “others come five days a week.”
Burhans said it depended on their retirement schedule.
“Most of our volunteers are seniors,” Burhans said.
Saucier added that they wanted to add more young volunteers to learn the skills needed to keep the hobby alive and maintain the museum.
The museum added an exhibit in 2018 titled “An Exhibition in Miniature”.
The exhibit has been in a basement since 1944. Joe Collias’ widow donated the exhibit to the museum in 2018.
“In the past eight months, we’ve completely rebuilt it,” Burhans said.
Collias was a railway photographer from Saint-Louis. Saucier said he was a “scratch builder” meaning he would build from an image.
“So he would photograph the buildings and then build the structure in the proper dimensions to make it an HO scale mockup,” she said.
The exhibition is displayed throughout the front room and in the museum workshop. Some items are for sale.
One of the items is an HO scale coal wharf built by Collias in the 1950s. It will be drawn for a $ 5 chance. Saucier said the coin was worth around $ 600. The winner will be drawn on February 9 at the Iron Spike auction.
Another new exhibit is the Lego trains. It is on display in the front room of the museum.
“One of our board members donated Legos and Lego trains to support the museum,” Burhans said.
Burhans added that they will sell some of the Legos, while others will be left as exhibits for children.
Right now, Saucier said they are working to stabilize what they already have.
“It takes a bit of time to nurture and maintain the arrangements that we have,” she says.
Saucier said they plan to have another rail show at the city’s auditorium to celebrate their birthdays in late April or early May.
They are also open to the possibility of hosting auto shows. However, their big goal is to install air conditioning.
“We spent two summers without air conditioning in the back room, the main room of the museum,” Saucier said.
They reached the $ 17,000 goal they set for themselves in 2018. Saucier believes it will take around $ 30,000 to purchase the air conditioning unit.
Saucier hopes the auction dinner in February will help them achieve their goal of having air conditioning for the summer.
Another goal they’re working on is finding a visitor from North Dakota.
They received visitors from 49 states, but not a single one from North Dakota.
“I’m not even convinced that anyone lives there,” Saucier said.
The museum, located at 1498 High St., is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Fridays from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sundays from noon to 6 p.m. and is closed Mondays and Wednesdays.