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Kingmanites have been workin' on the railroad ... museum

A scene from the three train layouts at the Railroad Museum that people will see during the grand opening this weekend. Whistle Stop Club member Mark Wolski built the railroad depot and Arlene Doutre built the other buildings and decorated them. Dave Bacon made the trees, sidewalks, roads and all other details.

Museum celebrating part of Kingman's history is having its grand opening this weekend

KINGMAN - The Whistle Stop Railroad Club is inviting everyone "all aboard" for the grand opening Saturday of the Railroad Museum in downtown Kingman.

The event will take place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Santa Fe Depot, 402 Andy Devine Avenue, and admission is free.

The Kingman Chamber of Commerce will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 9:30 a.m., and the railroad club will present a check for $5,500 to the city, which is the unused amount from the $15,400 start-up money it provided to the museum.

"We're overwhelmed with the support we're getting for the museum from the community and all of northwest Arizona," said Dave Bacon, president of the railroad club, which has about 20 members. "I'm excited about the grand opening, and so is the public. We're expecting at least 500 people to show up on Saturday.

"Everyone loves trains, and if it weren't for the railroad, Kingman wouldn't be here today."

The museum, which features history panels, exhibits, books and three large model train layouts, opened Sept. 15 to the public, said Bacon. So far, about 2,000 visitors from 45 of the 50 U.S. states and 17 countries have visited.

Bacon said the grand opening is taking place because detailing on the three layouts, the largest of which measures 11 by 28.5 feet, is now complete. They include trees, animals, people, bridges, houses, cars and even a model of the depot and surrounding buildings.

A bookshelf houses railroad books donated by enthusiasts, and nearby sits a Fairbanks scale that can measure up to 7,000 pounds of freight. The scale was installed when the second depot was constructed of reinforced concrete in 1907 and weighed freight until shortly after World War II.

Photographs of the original wooden depot, built in 1885 and used until sparks from a steam locomotive set it on fire and burned it to the ground in 1906, line the walls.

According to the history panels, the depot had fallen into disrepair by the early 2000s and was closed to the public until a combination of federal, city and private grants paid for renovations, which were complete in early 2011.

The railroad club operates the museum at one end of the depot, and an Amtrak station is situated at the other end.

"We want people to see the whole museum at the grand opening, the artifacts, history panels and everything in here," said Bacon. "We've worked hard on getting it all ready, and we want to show it off.

"People will be surprised when they come in this weekend."

At the event, Dawg's 'N' Donuts will offer free donut samples throughout the day, and a raffle drawing is scheduled for 4 p.m.

A long list of raffle prizes will be awarded, including two round-trip Amtrak tickets from Kingman to Los Angeles, two certificates for four people to the Grand Canyon West Skywalk and round-trip tickets for two from Williams to the Grand Canyon on Grand Canyon Railway.

Food prizes feature meals at a variety of local restaurants, and other prizes include paintings and drawings, a pedicure, flowers, gift cards, handmade wreaths, sharpening services, yard art and car washes.

Raffle tickets are $5 for six tickets or $1 per ticket and can be purchased before the grand opening or on the same day at the railroad depot.

Winners need not be present for the drawing.

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