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Hey Heidi: What's in the tunnel at the Museum of Transportation?

7:18 AM, Sep 26, 2013   |    comments
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Museum of Transportation

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  • ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - A walk along the tracks at the Museum of Transportation is a step back in time.

    "We have everything from horse drawn pieces, a piece of the roman aqueducts, to an aircraft that was flown in WWII," said Molly Butterworth, the museum's cultural site manager.

    It all started with one piece back in 1944.

    "The museum was founded by a group of railway enthusiasts they wanted to save a mule drawn streetcar that was built back in the 1870s and run in north st. Louis from the World War II scrap drives," Butterworth said.

    They saved it and went on to build one of the best railroad, automotive and streetcar museums in the world.

    "We have over 100 pieces of railroad equipment. We have close to 200 four, six and eight wheeled vehicles, cars, trucks, buses you name it," Butterworth said.

    They even have this one of kind car designed by a fashion designer in Detroit that became known as Bobby Darin's dream car.

    "One of the most innovative things he did with it in the 1950's was make the turn signals actually turn," Butterworth said.

    And that's not even what they consider the most impressive piece.

    "Probably the most impressive piece is an operational Chrysler turbine car. It was built by Chrysler in 1964 and it will run on any fluid that burns. We run ours on kerosene, but you could pour it full of whiskey or perfume and run it on that," Butterworth said.

    But all of this is here along Barrett Station Road because of this tunnel.
    "There were two tunnels that were built by what was then the Pacific Railroad between 1851 and 1853 just west of Kirkwood," Butterworth said.

    They were the first man made railroad tunnels built west of the Mississippi River and the one you see at the museum was in operation until 1944.

    "Our tunnel has collapsed in the past so we don't allow people in it for the safety reasons," Butterworth said.

    But they do use it for storage.

    "Right now, we have two pieces of railroad equipment in the tunnel, we have two flat cars on one of those flat cars is actually a steam locomotive frame," Butterworth said.

    They have other pieces in an off-site storage facility and slowly they all rotate into exhibits making this a place you need to visit often.




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