The Model Town and Railroad Diorama

Core Exhibit

Voted Most Popular Exhibit by Our Guests!

This diorama is a replica of Crested Butte’s Structures and Scenery from the 1920’s.


 The Train Exhibit is continually evolving and is a major draw for visitors of all ages. The backdrop is a realistic mural painted by Susan Anderton depicting the bench on Gibson’s Ridge including the Colorado Fuel and Iron buildings. Dedicated volunteers, including Tom Bielefeld and Dave Watkins, have spent thousands of hours scratch building replicas of Crested Butte’s structures and scenery from the 1920s. The engines and rolling stock (freight and passenger cars) are also scale replicas of the actual Denver & Rio Grande trains used at that time. The diorama is HO scale (1:87 proportions) and the trains are HOn3 gauge. HOn3 Gauge is a narrow gauge railroad, which was better for travel through mountainous terrain.    

Come in and see many little scenes showing what life was like in the coal mining era. You’ll recognize historic buildings like City Hall on Elk Avenue and Second Street, the Old Rock Schoolhouse and the Crested Butte Hardware/Conoco Gas Station. Pay attention to the fact that Coal Creek has already been diverted from its natural course and now meanders through the town. Residents work in their yards, tending their livestock, planting gardens, and hanging laundry. Notice how the deep snow took a toll on the homeowners’ fences around their yards. Check out details like the baseball field, whose fence is lined with advertisements from the 1920’s.   

The model builders have done extensive research to make sure this exhibit is historically accurate so that it helps tell the story of everyday life in Crested Butte during the mining era.   

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