By David Markham
With topics ranging from Mexican and Mexican American track workers to Harvey Houses and Harvey Girls, the Johnson County Museum is planning four programs this fall relating to its ongoing special exhibit about the local impact of railroads.
The special interactive exhibit, “TRAINS: Transportation and the Transformation of Johnson County” opened at the museum in mid-May and examines how everything changed after the railroad came through Johnson County for the first time in 1867. The exhibit will be on display until Jan. 13.
The related upcoming programs are: Traqueros in Kansas on Sept. 14; National Academy of Railroad Sciences (NARS) on Oct. 12; Harvey Houses and Harvey Girls on Nov. 30; and Railroaded: The Industry that Shaped Kansas on Dec. 7. These programs all take place beginning at 6 p.m. on Thursday nights. With the exception of the Dec. 7 Railroaded program, which is a free virtual presentation, these programs are all for ages 16 and older and take place at the Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center and cost $8 per person with a 20% discount for museum members.
“We hope that attendees at our programs will walk away with a new appreciation for the history and people who made the railroad what it is today,” said Museum Curator of Engagement Lindsey Arnold Seevers. “I’m especially excited about (Washburn University Historian and Grant Director and a fourth-generation Mexican American Kansan) Valerie Mendoza’s presentation on traqueros, the Mexican and Mexican American track workers who were integral to the railroad’s expansion. I’m glad we can share the lesser-known parts of history, especially about railroad workers and how their impact is still felt today.”
The “TRAINS” exhibit has already proven itself a hit with museum visitors of all ages.
“Visitors young and mature are really enjoying the exhibit,” said Curator of Interpretation Andrew R. Gustafson. “Our youngest visitors are captivated by the N-scale model train layout and trying their hand at the telegraph machine. I think our adult visitors are really struck by all the ways in which the railroad changed Johnson County – some we might think about, and others that might be less obvious. We have seen a good number of older visitors watching the model train, too. There are a so many fun things for visitors of all ages – flip doors, the telegraph decoding, the model train, and lots of incredible photos and history.”
The Johnson County Museum is located inside the Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center, 8788 Metcalf Ave., Overland Park. Exhibit and KidScape admission is included with regular museum admission rates of $6 for adults, $5 for seniors, and $4 for children ages one to 17, and free for children under one. The museum is open 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and is closed on Sundays and holidays. The museum’s next quarterly Free Day, featuring free admission all day for all ages, will take place on Saturday, Sept. 16.