Edwin Olsen Railroad Museum
“Listen to the jingle, the rumble, and the roar….”
from “The Wabash Cannonball” by J.A. Roff
The prevalence of train songs in every genre of music strongly indicates America’s fascination with trains and the romantic image of early rail service. Especially in the plains states and westward, the railroad was an essential component of expansion and adventure; and its influence is heralded in art and collectibles. The iron horse drew the chariot of new beginnings and the lifeline to supply houses in the East and the ports of the Gulf Coast.
Trains are a topic of dreams for children realizing the journeys of the powerful locomotives, connecting familiar places to far-off mysteries. Perhaps it is in those early days of wonderment that the majesty of the railroad grips our imaginations and hearts.
In 1881 the Gulf, Colorado, and Santa Fe Railroad was completed from its genesis in Galveston through Cliff Town, drawing businesses to current downtown economic locales. A depot built in 1901 ushered into Clifton’s early economic district a flood of customers. With the popularity of auto transportation however, railway services for passengers declined after World War II, ending passenger traffic to Clifton’s downtown district in 1953. For some years the Depot sat as a reminder of a bygone era. After 1983 the Depot was donated to the City of Clifton and was moved to its current location, a short walk from its original site. The depot served as the house of the local police department for more than 25 years.
In 2016 an extensive restoration of the depot was initiated by the Olsen Family to honor Edwin Olsen, an enduring railway enthusiast. The depot now houses railroad memorabilia and information on the railway services, with a natural emphasis on the Santa Fe. Edwin Olsen Railroad Museum is a fascinating collection of and connection to an era when the locomotive linked not only the economic but also the social facets of our expanding culture.
This wonderful addition to Historic Downtown Clifton is located at 300 South Avenue E. For more information contact the City of Clifton at 254.675. 8337.