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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Idaho Vacation: Nampa Train Depot Museum

Nampa Train Depot Museum,  Nampa, Idaho
While there are many old railroad depots that have been turned into museums, there are few, if any, that rival the beautiful Baroque revival architecture of the Nampa Train Depot Museum.  Make this scenic building and contents a quick Idaho vacation stop. 

Built by the Oregon Short Line Railroad in 1903, the depot was the 2nd in Nampa, replacing the original depot built in 1887.   The building now houses displays of the Canyon County Historical Society and Union Pacific Railroad. 

Old Railroad Sign, Nampa Train
Depot Museum
The museum was saved from demolition in 1972 and dedicated and opened  to the public on July 3, 1976.  Between 1972 and 1976, the building was partially restored and the beautiful woodwork was rebuilt and replaced.  The original woodwork had been removed while the depot served as offices and storage between 1925 and 1972. 

The museum has three main exhibit rooms plus offices for the Canyon County Historical Society and a museum store. 

Model of Dewey Palace Hotel,
Nampa Train Depot Museum
In what was originally the Women's and Children's Waiting Room, a feature exhibit is a replica of the Dewey Palace Hotel, once the largest and most stately in the region.  Another exhibit demonstrates the classy travel clothes that were typical of the period.  There are also several items from Thomas Edison's contributions including a gramophone and various light bulbs.  The "Bronco Billy" western classic starring Clint Eastwood was shot in several SW Idaho locations including Nampa.  Memorabilia and props from the movie are on exhibit.  Other items of interest are also located in this room.

Early Edison Phonograph,
Nampa Train Depot Museum
The original Station Office is now full of railroad items.  Try out the telegraph, or view one of the two working train sets and see if you can find the miniature animals, lookouts, and other fascinating features in the display.  Also on display are a huge collection of locks and keys, old lanterns and other antique office machines. 
Part of Model Train Exhibit,
Nampa Train Depot Museum

In the original Men's Waiting Room are beautiful hand crafted wooden train models made by a Nampa artist.  Also found here in another model train display with lots of detail area surrounding the tracks that depicts an Idaho mountain town. 

Part of Hand Crafted Wooden Train Models,
Nampa Train Depot Museum
Outdoors is a 1942 caboose that is open for inspection.  The museum has a large collection of books and photographs of the area.  Museum staff will help with research efforts if they are given some advance notice. 

The museum hosts many school and youth groups and is open to the public.  Museum hours are
Wednesday - Friday 11:00am to 5:00pm and Saturdays 10:00am  to 2:00pm (May-October) and 11:00am to 2:00pm November-April. 

Lock and Key Display,
Nampa Train Depot Museum
The Museum is located at 1200 Front Street, Nampa.  Access from I-84 is quite easy from either Exit 36 or 38.  You cannot miss the railroad tracks in downtown Nampa.

Need a suggestion for a place to eat?  Click here for details on a great Mexican meal or here for wonderful Chinese food.  Both are located close to the museum. 

Additional Information:

Canyon County Historical Society:
City of Nampa:
Nampa Chamber of Commerce:


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