Like many boys, David Trussel, now 75 years young, loved playing with toy trains. Several years ago, Trussel, a Greeley resident and retired publisher of the Greeley Tribune saw his long time dream come true within the walls of the Greeley Freight Station Museum. With over 20 (HO scale) miles of track spread over 5,500 square feet,this model railroad layout is no doubt one of the largest in the world.
Trussel not only designed but also coordinated funding, both personally and through friends, funding the construction of the building and exhibit. 130,000 volunteer hours later, young and old alike can travel back through time as steam locomotives climb steep grades, winding their way through numerous mountain passes, over elaborate tressels and through tunnels deeply carved into the mountain sides.
According to Executive Director Michelle Kempema, the Greeley Freight Station Museum has the “longest HO scale, single track main line layout in the world.” Typical trains run between 50 and 100 cars long. The main line alone would accommodate 14 trains, all running at the same time, each pulling 100 cars.
The detail, mountain sides to rivers, stunning bridges and tunnels, a burning building downtown, and firefighters doing battle with a wild fire in the forest (smoke included) is exquisite. Hundreds of buildings, hand-built to scale along with thousands of hand made trees and scenery, all add authenticity to this world class exhibit.
Model train enthusiasts can stroll freely through the three dimensional display while numerous trains navigate the only fully operational exhibit totally controlled by a computerized dispatcher.
The GFS museum, five years in the making, at cost of $1.5 million dollars is operated as a non-profit, supported by admissions and donations. It became totally self-sustaining in 2013. Their guest book for this summer boasts visitors from 46 different countries. The GFS museum, in Greeley, is just a short drive from Denver, at 680 10th Street, 970 392-2934.
Their website, GFSM.org offers a visual tour of the miniature trains in operation. Summer hours, Memorial through Labor Day, Wednesday through Saturday 10AM-4PM, Sunday 1PM-4PM. Winter hours, Labor Day to Memorial Day, Friday and Saturday, 10AM-4PM, and Sunday’s, 1PM-4PM. The museum is closed Monday and Tuesday. Adults $8, Seniors $6, Children 4-12, $4, 3 and under are free.