Middleton Museum of Toy Trains & Americana

Library & Archives  

OERM's unique Middleton Collection is perhaps most famous for its Toy Trains, but it really does have a little bit of everything! The collection presents the joys of a lifetime of collecting by Evan Middleton, who ran the Toy Train shop at Knott's Berry Farm in the 1960s. Housed in two Denver & Rio Grande baggage cars that Evan purchased in 1967, the Middleton Collection is a long-standing institution at OERM.

Evan was the founder of the Western chapter of the Train Collector's Association (TCA) in 1954, as well as charter member #1 of the Toy Train Operating Society (TTOS) in 1966. He was well known in the Toy Train collector's field, and was doubtless responsible for introducing the hobby to many others. The collection has quite a variety of artifacts, some railroad related, others not. It's been constantly added to since its inception, and will no doubt continue to evolve in the years ahead. One of the more recently added displays are a magnificent collection of scratch-built O gauge trolley models donated by Bill and Betty Everett.

History of the cars that house the collection

Car 745 was built in 1929 as Baggage Car number 600 for the Denver & Salt Lake Railroad. It became Denver & Rio Grande Western 600 in 1947, and received its current number in 1948. It was retired in 1967 and purchased at auction (along with sister car 743) by Evan Middleton in 1967. Both the 743 and 745 were repainted by Museum volunteers in 1985.

Car 743 car was built in 1910 as Buffet-Library car No. 604 for the Western Pacific Railroad. It was transferred to the Denver & Rio Grande (D&RG) when the two railroads were under common ownership circa 1914-15, and renumbered D&RG 983. The car was rebuilt into its present baggage configuration in 1920 and renumbered D&RG 733. It was renumbered 743 in 1924. The car was retired in 1967.

Cars 743 and 745 were moved to Perris on their own wheels. Owing to the lack of a continuous rail connection between the Museum and the Santa Fe Railway tracks in Perris, they sat in downtown Perris for almost a year until Museum volunteers built the trackage that bridged the gap. The two cars were among the first to be moved over the new connection.

Prior to 1968, all cars which were delivered by rail to Perris had to be "snap-tracked" over the gap in the railroad. This time-consuming task involved leap-frogging the car or cars on pieces of temporary trackage which were continually moved one in front of the other until the gap was bridged.

 Evan Middleton with the newly arrived cars, 1968. OERM Collection, click to enlarge 

Photos

Evan Middleton was a famous collector of classic Toy Trains,...
Evan Middleton was a famous collector of classic Toy Trains,...
and so the collection features a good many examples...
and so the collection features a good many examples...
 in all scales and types.
in all scales and types.
Master model builder Bill Everett and his wife Betty have donated an impressive collection of about 300 scratch-built O gauge traction models...
Master model builder Bill Everett and his wife Betty have donated an impressive collection of about 300 scratch-built O gauge traction models...
representing all of the traction operations in the Western US. The first installment of the collection features the Pacific Electric...
representing all of the traction operations in the Western US. The first installment of the collection features the Pacific Electric...
and Los Angeles Railway and is now on display in the Middleton Museum.
and Los Angeles Railway and is now on display in the Middleton Museum.
Antique typewriters and adding machines as well as a collection of railroad telegraph insulators.
Antique typewriters and adding machines as well as a collection of railroad telegraph insulators.
The north car features an even more eclectic assortment of antiques...
The north car features an even more eclectic assortment of antiques...
and displays gathered from throughout the Western US.
and displays gathered from throughout the Western US.
The dispatcher's desk from PE's 6th & Main station in Downtown LA, along with two PE keystones from the San Pedro depot.
The dispatcher's desk from PE's 6th & Main station in Downtown LA, along with two PE keystones from the San Pedro depot.
A coin counter from Glendale Transit, and an interesting variety of antique tools.
A coin counter from Glendale Transit, and an interesting variety of antique tools.
A tie from the "One Man and Mule Railway" on Mt. Lowe. Note the depression in the middle where the mule walked.
A tie from the "One Man and Mule Railway" on Mt. Lowe. Note the depression in the middle where the mule walked.

Upcoming Events

Dec 13 - Dec 14
Dec 20 - Dec 21

Museum News

August 18, 2014 - 19:00
The weekend of June 14 and 15, 2014 was busy at Orange Empire Railway Museum for the Father's Day Barbecue in Holstrom Park and the second day of Pacific Electric Weekend. Several picnic tables were...
June 24, 2014 - 05:18
All aboard! Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends are once again chugging into the Orange Empire Railway Museum for five days in November. Day Out With Thomas is scheduled for 8th, 9th, 11th, 15th and...