Hundreds of people stepped back in time on Saturday as they lived through history at the Western Railway Museum’s Family Fun Day.
Smiles abounded as the young and young-at-heart toured the large Suisun City property off Highway 12, getting closer to the wealth of trains and related memorabilia.
At least 50 cars of various vintages are housed at the museum, some available for short trips and others on display. Meanwhile, guides offer interesting stories about each piece, sharing insight into a time when train travel was all the rage.
Eric Mencis, the museum’s executive director, said at least 200 visitors had arrived by noon and more were expected. There is so much to share, he said, and so much more to come.
“We revamped it to be a little more practical, a little smarter,” he said of the annual event.
In addition to the trains, visitors could make bracelets out of brightly colored pipe cleaners, create paper art, color, snack on scorching popcorn, and all the while learning about the trains.
The subject, in fact, is very personal to Mencis.
“I’ve loved trains since I was a kid,” he recalls. “I know everything about trains. I just loved riding them. I like to tell their story, just the fascinating stories of this way of life.
Soon, that energy will be channeled into even more exhibits at the museum, making them more informative and, perhaps, more interactive.
“A lot of locals don’t know us. I want everyone to know us,” exclaimed Mencis. “People should know what’s in their backyard.”
Speaking of building sites, this is how the museum got its new mascot, Comet. The weeks-old kitten, friendly and feisty as can be, recently emerged from under a bush and into the hearts of the staff.
“I didn’t have lunch that day,” Mencis recalls. “Because he ate my lunch. We’re just happy to have it.
And the children were delighted to follow him in the museum which he essentially directs, underlined the director.
Outside, the carhouses were full of wagons and people marveling at them. The 1960s steam locomotive “Pollyanna” is on the grounds, along with the 1971 “Harold and Maude” wagon, which Maude lived in in the film.
Leslie Russo was thrilled to be at the museum, where she experienced a family connection.
“My grandfather worked for Southern Pacific Railroad, so I grew up on trains,” she said.
Lorry Barry was equally excited.
“I grew up in Fairfield and this is my first experience here,” she said, adding that she felt lucky to have finally visited and wished she had come sooner.
Samantha West shared the day with her children and each, it seemed, was deeply engaged.
Milo West, 4, played at a train table with James Doyle, 3, while Milo’s two brothers took a caboose ride.
“They’re teenagers,” advised Samantha, “so there’s something for everyone.”
Meanwhile, James’ sister Adie, 6, was creating art.
Paula Lattuca said her nephew, Alex, worked at the museum, so they came from Lincoln to see him.
“We always go out for the Halloween event. It’s so much fun,” she pointed out. The Christmas event and other visits are on her to-do list.
For more information about the museum and upcoming activities, visit https://www.wrm.org/.