The doors are finally open to the Traintastic Interactive Model Railroad Museum in Gulfport, and it’s being touted as the largest miniature train exhibit worldwide.
Traintastic President Glenn Mueller has never been shy about his passion for model trains. He considers himself a locomotive enthusiast and has collected model trains with his brother Richard Mueller for about half a century. It was that drive that led his entire team to create a 40,000-square-foot expansion with a strong focus on education and a little fun tossed in for good measure.
“Everybody that comes in is going to smile and that’s really what our goal is, to bring joy, but also to bring families together,” Mueller said.
The new building has all-new layouts including a tiny version of U.S. 90 and features Gulf Coast staples such as the Ocean Springs Caboose, the Biloxi Lighthouse, and the Mississippi Aquarium. There are tons of hands-on activities featured in more than 20 new layouts, interactive exhibits, STEM demonstrations, classrooms and party rooms, a playground, and real outdoor train rides. State funding and two generous community members helped finance the project which ultimately cost about $10 million and took almost three years to complete.
“I guarantee two things,” Mueller said. “When people walk through this front door, they’re going to say, ‘oh wow.’ And the other thing is, when they see everything, they’re not going to be able to do it all in one day. They’re going to want to come back.”
He added the museum allows both children and adults to tap into their imagination.
“They’ll be exposed to things that otherwise they’re not going to be able to really experience unless they travel, maybe outside the state or even outside the country,” Mueller said. “But it’s all right here and it is the world’s largest railroad museum.”
The new museum is now at 615 Pass Road in Gulfport and is just down the street from its former location. It has expanded from about 7,000 square feet to more than 50,000.
But did you know the original museum — the Mississippi Coast Model Railroad Museum — had a very humble beginning in 1990 at the Singing River Mall in Gautier?
“There was a model train club there that was struggling and lost their location, so then Richard found a building on Pass Road in Gulfport,” Mueller said. “And that one building became two buildings and then three buildings. The membership went from a handful to over 50 members now who have volunteered their time, expertise, and even some of their trains.”
And the multitude of expansions has grown over the years from the Mueller brothers’ love of trains.
“Because almost everyone knows at least one person with a passion for trains,” Richard Mueller said.
Traintastic is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for children, and discounted rates for military and seniors.
Photos are courtesy of the Traintastic Interactive Model Railroad Museum Facebook page.