All Aboard

The Reuben Wells is the centerpiece of the museum All Aboard! exhibit. It became part of the museum’s collection in 1968.

What do you do with a 35-foot-long, 55-ton locomotive? Make it the centerpiece of a gallery devoted to railroads, real and otherwise! Located on the museum’s Lower Level, the All Aboard! features the Reuben Wells, a circa 1868 locomotive that once pushed train cars up a nearly 2-mile-long steep hill outside the southern Indiana town of Madison.

The gallery also contains a simulated train station where visitors can “sell” tickets and send a telegraph message, as well as a layout of operating toy trains (and others on display). A computer game encourages visitors to design their own railroad or race trains.

Indianapolis was once a central hub of train travel, with scores of passenger and freight trains passing through the city every day. While those days passed with the introduction of air travel and the construction of the interstate highway system, trains have remained a vital factor in the fast and efficient movement of freight throughout the country. At a time when train travel is once more being explored as a means of mass transit, All Aboard! is a reminder of their importance in Indiana history—and by extension, that of America.

All Aboard! was made possible by many generous donors and supporters. Learn about the museum transformational donors.

Visitors “ride” in the tool car attached to the Reuben Wells. It has been on display at the museum since 1968.