Three Railroads, One Museum
Narrow Gauge Railroad
The Hesston Steam Museum keeps the history of narrow gauge steam railroads alive. Geared locomotives like this 1929 Shay were a common site in logging camps and gold and silver mines in the west.
Like all steam engines, our locomotives burn fuels such as coal or wood to produce steam to drive the wheels. You'll love the sights, sounds and smells of real steam engines. Ride along with us on a beautifully wooded railroad traveling over hills and past lakes and farm fields on a two and a half mile journey back in time.
Vintage Amusement Steam Train
These 1/4 scale locomotives are steam or gasoline powered and were mainly built for amusement parks from the 1920's to the 1950's. These trains were meant to haul kids and their parents over half a century ago and are still steaming along today.
1/8 scale Hand Crafted Models
Our smallest railroad is history in miniature where steam locomotives operate just like their big brothers. Turning water into steam using a real coal fire, these "little trains" take as much skill to operate as the real thing. Painstakingly built by the people who run them, these trains run on track with rails only 7.5" apart and travel through the heavily wooded hills and under a bridge in a mile long winding route. Great fun for kids of any age!.
More than just Railroads
Hesston Saw Mill
Our mill is typical of the mills dotting the countryside in the 1890's. These mills provided much of the lumber used to build towns and cities. Our mill was built in 1900 by the Hill-Curtis Machinery Company of Kalamazoo, Michigan. The mill features a 60 inch insert tooth blade, meaning that we can change teeth instead of changing the blade when it becomes dull. We saw our own lumber for restoration projects here at the museum. Some of the lumber we produced was used in the reconstruction of the Shay logging locomotive and in the construction of a new narrow gauge caboose.
Electric Power Plant and Stationary Engine
Our power plant was first to provide power to the LaPorte County Court House. It produces 60KW of DC power. A great deal of coal is shoveled into the boiler everyday to run the steam engine. The huge Allis-Chalmers engine originally ran the Sanders Saw mill in Elkhart, Indiana. In fact, it replaced the smaller Smith Mayers and Schneer next to it at the same location.
Steam Traction Engines
America’s unsung hero: The steam traction engine, sometimes referred to as a steam tractor, was a versatile tool for the farmer. It was responsible for increased food production in the 1890s - 1925. Farmers could finally purchase a machine to pull plows and power devices like threshing machines - tasks horses did before these unique machines were available. The museum’s examples of the steam traction engine come from numerous manufacturers and were built between 1899 - 1922. Operation is in full swing at the Labor Day Weekend Steam & Power Show when the threshing machine is used to process grains for the fall harvest.
Visit our Rustic Blacksmith Shop
Every town, village or settlement had a blacksmith. The craft was indispensable back in the early 1900s. Everything from wagon wheels to plows was repaired as well as nails and other hardware produced at your local smith. Our blacksmith shop is open various days throughout the operating season. Visit the blacksmith and see how fire, anvil and hammer come together with artistic knowledge to create useful and beautiful creations. You can even purchase some of these one-of-a-kind items from the Depot Store - the museum's gift shop.