Prototype modelers are always in need of motivation. I spent a week on vacation in Slovenia in June, and during that time I broke away from the family for a few hours and visited the Slovenian National Railway Museum in the capital of Ljubljana.
To my great surprise it was—hands down—one of the most awesome museums I’ve ever been to. It was full of motivation and a few surprises too.
The photo above is the view you get as you enter the museum grounds. The roundhouse and exhibits are is excellent shape. There are steam engines–many of which still operate–all over the grounds.
This complete narrow-gauge train was on one side of the museum. The engine is an outside-frame 0-6-0 that ran on narrow-gauge cog trackage. Below, a massive 2-10-0 sitting outside the roundhouse.
Below. In better light, this 2-8-2 passenger engine was also on the radial tracks.
One of the things that makes this museum so easy is that everything is in English. There is a story here that, after Yugoslavia collapsed, the Slovenian government decided that everyone in the nation should learn to speak English because it would not be wise to expect Slovenia to be part of the European community and expect everyone else to speak Slovenian. Slovenian kids start taking mandatory English language classes beginning in 6th grade. Everybody speaks English. It’s like being in Germany.
I was unable to get a good photograph of the turntable as there was much work in progress on the radial tracks. The turntable can be seen here in the distance, with a large 4-6-0 engine a right.
Does the turntable operate? Oh yeah–it has to. There are a half-dozen steam engines in the roundhouse that still run.
There was one diesel mixed in with the steamers outside–this thing, which looks pretty interesting.
Below. Before going inside, I ran across this tank car in the back of the museum. I recognized the trucks as U.S-manufacture right away.
Below. Here’s a closer view of the trucks. They are absolutely of U.S manufacture. Does anyone know the lineage of the tank, the car and/or perhaps the trucks?
Once inside the roundhouse things got very interesting. There were about nine or ten steam engines inside, several still in operating condition.
The engine below, with what looks like a front-end throttle, was built in 1906 in Austria and was one of a few oil burning engines in Slovenia during the steam era. According to the fact sheet nearby, the engine was discovered in a forgotten engine shed in 1996 and it went right to the museum.
A number of narrow gauge engines are in the roundhouse and display on narrow gauge carriages, for lack of a better term. This one, below, was built in 1892 in Linz, Austria, and was rebuilt again in 1930 for service in a Slovenian iron works.
What a cool little engine this is! A model could be the centerpiece of a little switching or industrial layout. It is in immaculate condition and I would guess that it still runs.
This display, below, includes memorabilia from the days when the Slovenian railways were under Yugoslavian control.
I didn’t take a picture of the most impressive engine in the roundhouse, a big Austrian 4-6-0 passenger engine that looked like was running the weekend before and smelled great–like dirt and oil. It was tucked away in a corner and impossible to photograph.
Below. Half the roundhouse is a fully-functioning steam engine workshop. According to the guy working the front desk, there are two engines being rebuilt in the backshop. I opened the door to the shop and shot a photo quickly…
Then the museum operator opened up “the signal shop” for me in one of the adjacent buildings. This building includes a large number of beautifully restored interlocking machines, signal equipment uniforms, communication equipment, and other things, all of which were in superb condition.
Below: Signs and grade crossing equipment.
Below. The shop contained about 20-25 interlocking machines like this one below.
Another interlocking machine, slightly different than the others.
More interlocking equipment, below.
Here is a nice display of uniforms, some of which date back to before 1900. Note the trainman’s uniform on the left–it included a ceremonial sword.
Here, below, is a wonderful display of what we call in the U.S. “date nails”. Date nails seem to have fallen out of favor in the U.S. in the 1960s, but they are still widely used in Europe.
Below. A beautiful replica of a station office complete with immaculate period equipment.
Below. In the back of the communications museum building is a large open area full of speeders, velocipedes, handcars and other equipment.
This little speeder was my favorite. I saw it in the corner and said “Oh yeah!” It’s just a simple speeder car but I really like the front.
There was so much more to see and learn, but my visit ended in just 90 minutes as I was needed back in Radovljica by the family. For this post, I’ll end with a prototype model. According to the display, the model was made by Mr. Mirko Dolinsek, a designer of wood castings in the railway workshops in Maribor. He made only three wooded models, using 20 different kinds of wood. It is displayed on an operating turntable with mirrors so visitors can see all the detail. It is exquisite.
I hope you enjoyed the tour as much as I did. You can check out the museum’s website at http://www.slo-zeleznice.si/en/sz-group/about-us/slovenian-railway-museum and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slovenian_Railway_Museum.
See you next week at St. Louis RPM! – John G