Het Spoorwegmuseum Railroad Museum- Utrecht, Netherandsl

The front of the old train station/museum!
Landon was so excited for the model train!
After taking a tram and two trains, I walked the few kilometers from Utrecht central station to the railroad museum. Landon was so excited to be there that he looked at the ticket counter and surrounding area and ran straight to the end to look at this solitary model. Little did he know what lay ahead. The first building of the museum is the old train station. They had rooms decorated and set up for 1st class, 2nd class, and 3rd class. The 1st class room looked like a fancy formal sitting room!

Left luggage from many generations
Seeing the artistry of the train station and the nicely decorated sitting rooms made me realize how classy and nice travel used to be. It was reserved for those with the money to do so, and was about making a nice experience as well as getting from point A to point B.

Landon and a real-live train
The stately old station

Outside of the fancy station, there were several trains parked. One that Landon and I were able to explore was a Royal train that the Dutch royal family actually used for several years. It had spartan apartments for each member of the royal family that included a shower and a bunk. One unique feature was an ornate sitting room, and a radio room where they could send and receive communications. 
Steam train!
Once I pulled Landon away from the few trains parked on the tracks and got him into the museum proper, I think his little mind was just blown. All around were different engines and cars! He was so enthralled with everything that he immediately went to the ride-on train toys and started playing with those. That was one of those mommy face-palm moments where I’m thinking, “Why didn’t we just go to the mall with the ride-on toys?! Why did I pay money to come to this museum!” Eventually, I cajoled Landon into exploring the rest of the museum. He was occasionally pulled away by the Chuggington cartoon that was playing near the gift shop, but that pull was not as strong as the stupid ride-on toy trains.

Conductor Landon in his very own train!

The indoor train yard included a wide variety of trains. Some of them were open to explore inside, while we enjoyed looking at the outside. Our ticket came with a neat guide in English that told a little about the most notable trains in the collection. The blue train below was specially designed with a square, long nose to protect the train engineer in case of a crash. Safety first!

Safe train with long nose to protect the engineer

Landon especially enjoyed the mail train. There was a neat video that explained how the mail was taken from individual post boxes and sorted and delivered all over the Netherlands and beyond. Much of the fine sorting took place inside the train in transit!

Mail train interior

Some of the trains had more decoration than others. I liked the classic look of interior wood and exterior detailed paint, like the train car below.

Detailed classic train car

After thoroughly inspecting each train car and engine in the garage, we went on an adventure to find out about the invention of the train. It was a multimedia adventure with audio guides and special effects! Landon got his own audio guide so he would know what is going on, which is a first for him.. I was surprised he kept it on! I was impressed that this audio guide was completely automatic and changed what it was talking about based on where you were in the adventure. That was great except some of the time, I was skipping ahead to chase a toddler. Anyway, we started on this dark elevator that shook and made lots of loud noise. Landon was not quite sure about that. We exited into a room decorated like an old English town. Trains were invented to help with coal mining in England. The tour guide voice in the audio guide was speaking like he was the inventor of the train.

We just emerged from the mine/scary elevator, Landon’s listening intently!

Anyone who knows Thomas the Tank Engine probably knows Stephen, an old engine that is restored to working condition. Landon was super excited to see that Stephen was one of the first steam engines!

Stephen, the first steam engine

We wandered through city streets and workshops where they were building early steam engines. Then we came out into a room with a full-size steam engine! That was the end of the tour, but Landon saw the tracks going off into the distance and decided to see where they led. Unfortunately, it was just a painted wall… I just love him and his little audio guide!

Landon heading off into the wild blue yonder…
and realizing that it was a dead end!

The next exhibit featured the Orient Express, a train that took wealthy passengers in style from continental Europe to Istanbul, Turkey. The dining room inside was quite lavish! I liked the wood siding.

Wood siding and Orient Express insignia
Interior of Orient Express

Next, we braved the wind and went outside. There was an interesting amusement park style ride that Landon and I went on. It was all in Dutch, so I didn’t catch quite what we were doing, but I think the premise was that the repair workers had just gotten done repairing a train and we were taking it on a test run. The lady manning the ride said we would be bored for the first two rooms, and she was right. She said then was the ride part, and that would be fun. She was right again. We went into a room with screens in the front like we were driving the train. Landon sat with me because I think otherwise he would be scared. The seat jostled and vibrated, and we went down tracks with several different scenes, almost crashing several times before the end of the ride! It was quite exciting.

Inside of concentration camp rail car
Landon wanted to go see the other trains in the shunting yard, so we stayed outside. I had forgotten that they had a rail car that was used to cart Jews to concentration camps during WWII. Once I saw the car, I knew exactly what it was, and when I went inside, I had the most physically intense experience to a place that I’ve ever felt. In that moment of standing inside the car, it seemed like I felt the pain, the sorrow, the fear, and the anxiety that the people that were shoved in there like cattle felt. It shocked me that I was experiencing it at the time, and afterwards I really just felt like puking. I can’t imagine that people thought that what happened during the Holocaust was OK. Just terrible.  I couldn’t stay in there for long, though, because Landon was long gone down the railroad tracks in search of other trains.

Outside of concentration camp rail car

Having Landon walking all over (safe, unused) railroad tracks meant I had to get some pictures of him on the tracks. The problem is that as soon as I started snapping pictures, he would charge me!

Little boy on the tracks
Charging the camera

Last thing we did before I put Landon down for his nap in the stroller was go upstairs in the main train hangar. There, we could see more of the trains and study the tops of them. It was cool to have so many different kinds of trains all in one place! There were other attractions including a kid train ride and outdoor playground that were not open while we were there, but I would say this is a perfect activity for children of all ages- especially train lovers!

View from the upstairs viewing platform

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