Durham Western Heritage Museum is in the restored union train station in Omaha, Nebraska directly across from Council Bluffs, Iowa. It was unique as a train station because it was opened in 1931 and was done in an art deco style inside and out.
The peak years of use of the station were between 1942 and 1945 when 10,000 passengers went through the building a year. By the 1960s, passenger service was down to one train a day. The final passenger train went through on April 30, 1971 and at that point Union Pacific wanted to tear the station down, but a groundswell of local support saved the building and turned it into a museum.
The main floor is restored as closely as possible to the original design and layout and still be functional as a museum. Of special interest are the cast figures who represent travelers scattered around the main floor AND the working soda fountain. I love cherry phosphates.
The bottom floor had displays on the history of Union Pacific, the history of the Omaha World’s Fair, and other parts of Omaha life. I really think this was about the best museum we went to during my class. I highly recommend it both as a great example of art deco architecture and as a museum.
UPDATED March 12, 2016: I double checked the link and it was still good. I made the photo of me in the soda fountain bigger because I love the soda fountain and this photo. I also added the signature block. I went back in 2014 and I enjoyed it just as much the second time. Be sure to stop if you’re in or near Omaha and remember to stop for the pioneer photo op.
Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.