ENID, Okla. —
It all started with a lantern.
When Frank “Watermelon” Campbell kicked off his 42-year career with the railroad, he was given a lantern that would quickly become the piece to set off the eventual opening of the Railroad Museum of Oklahoma.
“It didn’t prove very satisfactory because it would go out on me,” Campbell said, adding railroad officials told him to buy a new lantern and throw the first lantern in the garbage. “Well, I never (threw) it in the garbage. I kept it at home. And that’s what started my railroad collection.”
Since then, Campbell has spent years preserving railroad history and even recently recognized with a Citation of Recognition from the state of Oklahoma for his dedication to the railroad museum and to the community.
Before the eventual opening of the railroad museum, Campbell formed a small museum in a train depot in his backyard.
“I had it crammed full of railroad memorabilia, and I went to railroad shows and on eBay — all different ways to put together all of the things at the railroad museum,” Campbell said.
One day, Campbell decided to share his collection.
He approached the Santa Fe Railroad to request a donation of the Santa Fe Freight Depot in Enid for use as a museum.
The building had been vacant for 25 years, and a considerable amount of work had to be done before the museum could be opened to the public in 1989, Campbell said.
Throughout the past year, $68,000 worth of improvements were made at the facility.
Refurbishment work included constructing a pump car, cleaning the train yard of weeds, putting together a library in the “round top” building, repainting the freight room floor, cleaning all of the carpets throughout the museum, refurbishing the model railroads, cleaning and rearranging showcases and re-painting some of the museum’s cabooses.
“We have the largest railroad museum of this type in the nation,” Campbell said.
Today, there are more than one million pieces of railroad memorabilia in the museum.
“We have the largest collection in the world of railroad dining car china,” he said.
The museum also is home to the smallest train layout in existence, Campbell said, and features HO and N-gauge model railroads.
Other museum features include 12 cabooses from 10 different railroads, 31 pieces of rolling stock, including boxcars and tank cars in the train yard, 3,640 feet of railroad track, a steam locomotive and a diesel locomotive.
The museum runs two excursion trains — made up of cabooses from different railroads — each year. The spring excursion between Enid and Okeene is set for May 3.
As the local chairman for the conductors’ organization union, Campbell was part of training superintendents and other officials on the railroad.
“Me, being the local chairman, they needed to know all about the unions,” he said.
His work with the “bigshots” would pay off later.
“When I was putting the railroad museum together, and they were pulling the cabooses off of the trains, then I could call up those fellas and visit with them and get them to donate a caboose to the museum,” Campbell said. “I had a lot of clout with the different officials from the different railroads, which was a great thing in putting together the railroad museum.”
The museum, located at 702 N. Washington in Enid, is open from 1-4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. The museum is open by appointment only on Sunday.
Admission is by donation at the volunteer-run facility.
For information, museum officials may be reached at (580) 233-3051.
ENID, Okla. —
It all started with a lantern.
- Progress 2014
City committees are like a 2nd pair of eyes
“The value is they see things I don’t see. Sometimes they’ll have questions on things I haven’t thought of." — Enid Woodring Regional Airport Director Dan Ohnesorge
The Enid News & Eagle is publishing eight special sections that explore the progress made and the challenges faced in Enid and northwest Oklahoma. Please click on the ENE's Progress 2014 section front to view the featured individuals, businesses and organizations, concluding this week with Community Service, and see prior editions, Health and Wellness and Economic Development, Education, Northwest Oklahoma, Family, Agriculture and Energy and Faith.
A historic trail from trash to treasure
When Frank “Watermelon” Campbell kicked off his 42-year career with the railroad, he was given a lantern.“It didn’t prove very satisfactory because it would go out on me,” Campbell said, adding railroad officials told him to buy a new lantern and throw the first lantern in the garbage. “Well, I never (threw) it in the garbage. I kept it at home. And that’s what started my railroad collection.”
Recreating city of Enid into a work of art
“Overall, I hope to see some art that adds vibrancy and creativity throughout Enid. When you have a vibrant and creative town, it attracts more residents and work force.” — Visual Arts Committee member Kelly Tompkins, Main Street Enid director.
A great partnership
“There is no doubt we have good numbers. We can’t brag on ATS enough for our guys, because it’s rare.”
John Lipsey, DOC Assistant Supervisor for the Northwest District
Roots dig deep to keep Enid beautiful
There is property value, pride, visitors coming, businesses coming,. The way your city looks, they’ve proven over and over again it’s in the top five things they’re going to notice.” — Suzy Meibergen, chairwoman of Keep Enid Beautiful
Project is growing
Garfield County Master Gardeners is brought to the county by Oklahoma State University Extension, and there currently are more than 60 members of the volunteer group.
Life for ESO director is more than music
I have just been very fortunate to be around so many people with so many diverse skills. I don’t think there is anyone I’ve ever met that didn’t make an impression, that didn’t make me a more well-rounded person.”
Douglas Newell, music and executive director, Enid Symphony Orchestra
Park Avenue Thrift is passionate about Enid
“People are jealous of David and I because we have a wonderful job. But we’re nothing without our people.” — Paula Nightengale
Getting involved all part of a good education
Jenny Root, special education teacher at EHS, has served as sponsor of Community Service Club at Enid High School for about 10 years. “I believe community service is an important part of education,” Root said.
- More Progress 2014 Headlines
- City committees are like a 2nd pair of eyes