Marvel at the engineering of historic planes, trains and automobiles while touring Delaware museums dedicated to preserving the history of military aircrafts, vintage locomotives and steam powered engines.
-- The Air Mobility Command Museum, standing proudly alongside the long runways and giant C-5 Galaxy transport jets of Dover Air Force Base, is the kind of place that gets history buffs’ blood pumping, and puts airplane aficionados into a state of sweaty anticipation.
Nowhere else in the nation can visitors climb aboard classic military transport aircraft, or stand in the decommissioned control tower of one of the nation’s busiest Air Force bases. At the Air Mobility Command Museum, military history fans can witness the drama of the Berlin Airlift, tour Air Force Two or learn about the potentially perilous art of aerial refueling.
As the only museum dedicated to airlift and air-refueling history, the Air Mobility Command Museum is a uniquely far-reaching look into a side of military life rarely seen by civilians. Some of the largest and most iconic transports aircraft in history stand on static display come to life with veteran aircraft personnel giving guided tours of the museum’s exhibits.
The Air Mobility Command Museum is open to the public Tuesday through Sunday from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
-- Meandering peacefully along the banks of the Red Clay Creek through the heart of New Castle County, the vintage locomotives of the Wilmington & Western Railroad offer a journey into the nation’s past, when steam-powered trains were crucial to carrying passengers and products from town to town.
Today, the old trains chug along a 10-mile section of the old rail line as it passes through the rolling hills and leafy valleys, ending its journey at a shaded grove where passengers can disembark for a picnic lunch.
The railroad is run from the historic Greenbank Station, which began service back in the last half of the 19th century. Next door to the station, visitors can also explore the Greenbank Mill, a living history museum with tours and programs that tell a fascinating tale of America’s Industrial Revolution.
The Wilmington & Western Railroad runs throughout the year and offers several themed special events including a Santa Claus Express and Autumn Leaf Special. Please visit their website for a schedules and to purchase tickets.
-- Tucked away in a leafy, picturesque corner of New Castle County, Auburn Heights Preserve looks more like the country estate of a successful businessman from generations past (which it is). Step onto the shaded grounds, however, and a rich world of history unfolds.
On these quiet acres is the world’s largest operating collection of Stanley Steamers, those chuffing early automotive classics. Kids will be thrilled to ride aboard the 1/8-size steam trains of the Auburn Valley Railroad, while the grownups may decide to take a tour the Auburn Heights mansion, home to three generations of the Marshall family.
Inside the Marshall Steam Museum, displays of electric trains and vintage music machines keep the sense of discovery alive. All around the mansion lies the Auburn Heights Preserve, Delaware’s newest State Park site, encompassing nearly 200 acres of protected land adjacent to the Red Clay Creek and including the original family mill buildings.
The Marshall Steam Museum and Auburn Heights Mansion is open for tours on the first Friday and Saturday of each month (April – November). Please note that reservations are required. Public Steamin’ Days are held the first Sunday of each month (June – November) which include family-fun activities.
3 museums in one day? Take your time and enjoy the sights by booking an overnight stay online.
Discover why the First State is considered the historical crossroads of our great nation on the Delaware History Trail. Download a passport and earn a limited-edition book about Delaware history at http://www.visitdelaware.com/delaware-history-trail.