If you’re like me, when you saw the title of this post you probably thought ‘Why does Las Cruces of all places need a Railroad Museum?’ or ‘What’s the point?’. That question (and the fact that the museum is free to visitors) is exactly why I went – my curiosity must be sated.
As you can proabably imagine, the museum is located next to the train tracks, which means that unlike the other museums in Las Cruces (like the Branigan Cultural Center for example), the Railroad Museum is not located in the most populous, or even the nicest, neighborhood. I’m not saying it’s dangerous, but rather that it falls victim to the zoo phenomenon. Anyone who has ever been to a zoo in a major city knows that they’re never located in a nice part of town; the zoos are always in a more rundown area that’s safe for a family during the day, but probably a tad sketchy at night. The same general rule applies here.
The Railroad Museum in Las Cruces is more than a tad odd. First of all, it’s only open Thurs. – Sat. for reasons unknown to me. Secondly, it’s kind of obvious they don’t get many visitors. From the first moment I walked in the door, I got pounced upon by museum staff who wanted to know where I was from, why I was visiting, if I needed more information about local attractions in Las Cruces or maybe information about other railroad tourist spots in New Mexico, etc. I felt somewhat uncomfortable with all these people staring at me, like I was supposed to give some magic answer or possibly do a trick.
The museum itself is not all that interesting. I got the impression from the exhibits and the museum staff that the museum existed mostly because the railroad depot it’s located in is over 100 years old (built in 1910) and they felt the need to honor that acheivement somehow. There was a somewhat cool model trail set in the back room built to look like an old Las Cruces, but that was about it.