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Millbrae Train Museum

Post Date:08/10/2017 10:00 AM

The Millbrae Historical Society has worked for nearly 50 years to preserve the City of Millbrae’s history. One key piece of this story is the Millbrae Train Museum.

Due to Millbrae’s location on the peninsula and its proximity to San Francisco, transportation has always made up a vital part of the City’s character. Cities on the peninsula were built around train stations because trains had been the main mode of transport until the early 1900s.

Although it began its life as the Train Museum in October 2004, the structure was originally built in 1907 as the Southern Pacific Train Depot. This structure predates the City’s 1948 incorporation and is one of the oldest buildings in Millbrae.

During the 1970s, the Southern Pacific Transportation Company had plans to tear the depot building down. However, the newly formed Historical Society recognized its significance and came together to save the structure, successfully adding it to the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP).

The building remained in use and unchanging until 2003, when the City began building a new Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) station that would accommodate both BART trains and the older railroad models. Under the leadership of Historical Society Treasurer and Train Museum Curator Vern Bruce, the Historical Society transformed the old depot station into the Train Museum and has dutifully maintained the facility for the past 13 years.

The Millbrae Train Museum houses one full-sized railroad “sleeping car” as well as two restored trucks used exclusively by railroad companies. The 1941 Pullman sleeping car Civic Center was preserved from a premium Streamliner train known as the City of San Francisco and has never been modified, except to be repaired. Similarly, the two trucks – a firetruck and a railway delivery truck, respectively – have been meticulously restored and are on permanent display.

Visitors can enjoy one of the only train museums on the Bay Area peninsula firsthand every Saturday, from 10 AM to 2 PM. Additionally, the Historical Society hosts community events throughout the year at the Train Museum, including the Children’s Christmas Party on the first Saturday in December each year.

If you would like to become a volunteer docent at the Millbrae Train Museum or would like to donate any historical items, please check the Historical Society website at millbraehs.org or contact museum staff at (650) 333-1136.
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