Museum Collections

The NEW BUFFALO RAILROAD MUSEUM – “The Little Museum That Could”  packs a great experience into a compact space, just across the train yard from the former Pere Marquette railway round house steam locomotive facility. The museum is a celebration of New Buffalo’s railway history and the quality of life in small town America.

You’ll find unique historic artifacts, a collection of brakemen’s oil lanterns (commonly known as bird cages or bug torches) , illustrative and informative displays, rarely seen archival photography that bring railroading in the 19th and 20th centuries to life.

Most of the items in the museum have been donated or loaned by area residents. Many of these people, or their ancestors, worked in New Buffalo for the Pere Marquette Railroad, which eventually became the Chesapeake & Ohio and, finally, CSX. Rumor has it that it is rare to find a family in New Buffalo without at least one railroader in its genealogy.

To illustrate the history of the greater New Buffalo area and in particular to highlight the role the railroad played in its development, our permanent collection is comprised of the following exhibits and artifacts:

Replica of the Pere Marquette Railroad Depot
The Museum is housed in a replica of the original Pere Marquette Depot that existed near the site in the 1920s. The original plans were discovered by life-long New Buffalo area residents Nadra and Al Kissman and Ron and Rol Oselka and the building was built from those original blueprints.

C&O Boxcar
Acquired in 1990, this Chessie System (formerly C&O line) rail car has been refurbished and is now a repository of area history, artifacts and memorabilia including the “Veteran’s Wall” listing our area’s proud men and women who proudly served our Country.

Troop Sleeper Car
Pullman Troop Sleeper CarSee how our soldiers, sailors, marines and airman traveled during WWII. Between December, 1941 and June, 1945 U.S. railroads carried almost 44 million armed services personnel. As there were not enough cars and coaches available to meet the massive need for troop transit created by World War II, in late 1943 the U.S. Office of Defense Transportation contracted with the Pullman Company to build 2,400 troop sleepers.

A troop sleeper car was a railroad passenger car which had been constructed to serve as something of a mobile barracks for transporting troops over distances sufficient to require overnight accommodations. This method allowed part of the trip to be made overnight, reducing the amount of transit time required and increasing travel efficiency.

Our recondition Pullman Troop Sleeper features photographs, posters and artifacts depicting the contributions made by America’s “Fighting Railroads.”

Historic fire engine
New Buffalo City Fire Department’s historic Button & Blake Hand Pumper (Circa 1863). These hand pumper fire engines were pulled by and relied on human power to pump water to the fire. The unit on display at the museum includes a two-wheel hose cart. The fire truck was built sometime between 1850 and 1863 in New York state. The fire truck’s biggest most splendid hour came when the New Buffalo Fire Department responded to the call for help during the great Chicago Fire. The pumper and crew were loaded on to a flat car and the Pere Marquette took them to Chicago. The pumper was restored to its present condition as part of New Buffalo Founder Days in 1964.

HO Scale Model train layout
This interactive display features an HO scale train layout which shows visitors how the the village of New Buffalo may have appeared in the 1920s. Depicted are the train yard, roundhouse, turntable locomotive facility, Hobo Village, the Pelican Pond into which boiler wash was disposed, the Quonset Hut, which is now Oink’s Ice Cream, Whittaker Street (not to scale), and the surrounding neighborhood. Maintained by the Dunes Model Railroad Club, it demonstrates how important the Railroad was, not only to New Buffalo, but to the entire region.