The Museum Begins

The Museum Site in 1976, before improvements.


This group decided to construct what Anderson calls an "architectural screen" on the site of a recently demolished CPR-YMCA building at a major intersection in town. The view across this site and the tracks was unsightly; the screen was intended to block this view and enhance the area by showcasing historic features of both Cranbrook and the railway. A centerpiece was to be an old passenger car, which the Foundation had borrowed $5,000 to purchase. Anderson describes the car as "architecture on wheels," since the railway car design follows most architectural design principles of proportion, rhythm, line, and so forth.

The car, like other railway displays in small towns, was set on a short piece of track. Along with this, a temporarily-placed wooden caboose served as a comparison to the passenger car. Crews hired under federal job creation programs started work to clean both pieces of equipment. But just before this began, Anderson made an astounding discovery, one that would change his very career.

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