It was 50 years ago this month that the original "Age of Steam" exhibit was being created at Fair Park. In preparation for the 1963 State Fair of Texas, the small attraction received two additional items during the month of August: recently retired Dallas Union Terminal steam locomotive #7 and Southern Pacific's Eakin Street Yard Office (H&TC Depot).
Now 50 years later, an era is drawing to a close as trackage is being dismantled at the Fair Park site. Nearly 2,000 feet of track that displayed some 28 pieces of vintage rolling stock is being pulled up this week.
The original Texas & Pacific spur dating back to a period prior to the 1936 Texas Centennial Exposition was used to exhibit the first two locomotives which included T&P's "Texas" type steam locomotive #638, and later the ex-New York Central "Mohawk" steam locomotive #3001 masked as T&P #909.
Additional trackage was constructed as pieces were added to the Museum. Major expansions took place in 1965 with the arrival of three additional steam locomotives: Big Boy #4018, Frisco #4501, and Eagle Picher Mining Co. (ex-Frisco) #1625, and again in 1969 with the arrival of Santa Fe Motorcar M-160 and Coach Observation #3197. A couple of modest track expansions took place in the 1990s to make more efficient use of the 1.5 acre site.
The Museum's rolling stock collection continued to grow in subsequent years despite a lack of additional trackage, necessitating storage of approximately 1/4 of the pieces offsite. With nearly 3,000 feet of rolling stock, the Fair Park site had become obsolete, which contributed greatly to the Museum's decision to relocate to the new 12.34 acre Frisco location. Some 3,200 feet of track has already been constructed at the new facility. An additional 3,000 feet of exhibit track will be laid as part of the second phase of construction, once funds are in place.