The Smithsonian Institution is the largest chain of museums in the world. Among those museums is the National Museum of American History formerly known as the museum of History and Technology. Located on the National Mall in Washington D.C., it shows the history of life in the United States of America. Some of the museum’s features include the war boat ‘Philadelphia’ and the American flag that flew over Fort McHenry during the War of 1812 at the time Francis Scott Key was inspired to write the poem that became the national anthem of the United States of America. You will see how America became the nation it is today with a visit to this museum.
Now some of you are saying, “This is great. I enjoy visiting Washington D.C. with all the monuments, and the Smithsonian has great museums. This museum does not have anything to do with trains. Therefore, I have scratched this particular museum off my list.”
You have scratched the National Museum of American History from your list. Be advised that ‘you’ are making a very ‘big’ mistake.
The National Museum of American History displays the history of the United States of America. This history includes transportation. What is part of transportation? Railroads. One thing you will find on display is the John Bull steam locomotive. Originally built in England in 1831 and brought to America, it was used between New York and Philadelphia. Today, you can see it at the museum.
In case you are wondering, that is not all.
Welcome to the ‘America on the Move’ exhibit. As soon as you enter, you see the Number 3 Jupiter locomotive from the Santa Cruz Railroad Company. You then enter a box car from the Southern Pacific. Then you see the Number 303 streetcar from Washington D.C. From there, you see the Southern Railway Depot where passengers are sitting waiting for their train to come. You walk past an exhibit on the railroad workers and see the 1401 Charlotte steam locomotive which was built in the shops in Salisbury, North Carolina. If that is not enough, you can take your seat in a Chicago subway car.
Is the National Museum of American History on your list of museums to visit? You now have a reason to put it on your list.
The National Museum of American History Kenneth E. Behring Center is located on Constitution Avenue NW (U.S. 1/50) between 12th Street and 14th Street. It is next to the National Mall. It is open from 10:00am to 5:30pm every day (except December 25). There is no admission to visit the museum, but you will need to pass through a security checkpoint. The museum does not have any parking. Parking is street parking that may fill up quickly during the day, or you can find a nearby parking garage. Public transportation is another option. You can get more information at https://americanhistory.si.edu/.
As you can see, Washington D.C. is not just about politics. It is about museums. It is about the Smithsonian Institution. It is about the National Museum of American History. It is about ‘America on the Move’. It is about the transportation… of railroads.