NOTE: Read the article in the attached PDF to view photos!
Our last visit to the Christopher Transportation Museum was about two years ago, prior to the recent expansion that nearly doubled the size of the museum, so we were eager to return!
According to Anne Lapinski, collection curator and manager, the mission statement of the Christopher Transportation Museum is “To preserve historical artifacts that share the American story of transportation by rail, ship, and air – particularly the bygone era of passenger’s fine dining experience.” The museum houses countless railroad artifacts as well as steamship artifacts, airline artifacts, and zeppelin airship artifacts. In addition, there is a newel post collection, circus memorabilia, salesman sample plates, hotel keys, photographs, artwork, local displays and so much more.
A walk through the museum is EDUCATIONAL! This china manufacturing process display follows a piece of railroad china through various stages of finishing (see attached PDF for photo).
A walk through the museum is IMPRESSIVE! One prized attraction (and a favorite exhibit of museum owner Jay Christopher) is the Illinois Central French Quarter Pattern ten-piece china set (photo above). Very few complete sets are known to exist. The design features “an ornate multi-colored band with a full color New Orleans scene in the center, the pattern was used on the Panama Limited that ran a 921-mile route between Chicago, St. Louis and New Orleans.”
A walk through the museum is NOSTALGIC! This “Union Station” display takes us back to the glory days of the railroad (see attached PDF for photo)!
A walk through the museum is AUTHENTIC! I suspect this display (see attached PDF for photo) is based on Mr. Christopher’s train travels. In his youth he travelled many times from Chicago (through Sheboygan) to Manitowish and back!
A walk through the museum is FUN! These antique rocking trains (see attached PDF for photo) that watch over the Union Station entrance remind us of the thrill and intrigue of railroads that can begin at a young age!
A walk through the museum is HUMOROUS! It’s hard to walk past this Pullman bathroom display (see attached PDF for photo) without noticing a few things. There is the signage (left) that reminds passengers, “Do not use the toilet when the train is standing in the station.” A peak in the toilet (upper right) reveals what appears to be the opening to the railroad tracks below! Sitting on the shelf is a piece (lower right) that warns, “Notice to Passengers: Do not empty this toilet out of train window.”
A walk through the museum is AMUSING! I came across this display of the Deagan Dinner Chimes (see attached PDF for photo) that invites visitors to “try your hand” by following the arrows and challenges them to recognize the a “melody that was first used on the railroads and later adopted by another well-known company.” My guess: NBC!?!
Of course, a walk through the museum is HISTORICAL! I find these remains from the Hindenburg disaster particularly intriguing (see attached PDF for photo). The display includes the famous audio recording of crash as reported by Herbert Morrison that you can listen to while viewing these pieces of history.
A walk through the museum has VARIETY! The museum houses much more than railroad and transportation-related displays. Have you ever seen a Newel Post Collection (see attached PDF for photo)?
Like everything else in the museum and throughout the Christopher Farm & Gardens, newels are important to and meaningful for the man who has brought this all together, Jay Christopher, who explains:
“Newel posts are not typical run-of-the-mill objects to collect. It was a fluke that I first stumbled across the newels in an antique store. Most visitors to the store probably walked right by the dusty newels. I admit I have a rather active imagination and this odd pile caught my eye, and I saw something others had not seen in these old, battered posts. As you can see through the beautiful restoration of the 100-plus newels on display, the craftsmanship is not lost and the transformation to their original luster is amazing. Wood is a wonderful medium and one for which I have always had an appreciation. I began purchasing and restoring antique pieces of furniture during my twenties to furnish my first home. Throughout high school, I worked at a hardware shop and learned my way around tools of the trade. I have many fond memories of working at that store and the craftsmanship skills I acquired there.”
A walk through the museum is about COMMUNITY! The Christopher family originally purchased the 37-acre residential farm property in 1997. Through a series of acquisitions, the Christopher Farm & Gardens currently consists of approximately 500 acres with over 6,000 feet of Lake Michigan Shoreline. Mr. Christopher has made this his home and supports this community in countless ways, including various displays in the museum such as the James V. and Helene Y. Siegl Santa Collection which was moved into this space following the recent expansion (to learn more, follow this link: https://www.christopherfarmandgardens.org/areas-of-interest/garden-art/siegl-santa-collection/)
Speaking of “community”, on behalf of the Local Cancer Community, I would like to express my deep appreciation to Jay Christopher and all of the wonderful staff (especially Erika and Rob) for all they have done and all they continue to do for us!
I encourage you to watch this Local Cancer Community Update and make sure you are on the ST&BF “POP UP” e-mail list to receive information about future visits to the Christopher Farm & Gardens! Consider joining us on Tuesday, April 18th for the monthly TLC Survivorship Session as we discuss Nature Therapy (particularly, how we experience at the Christopher Farm & Gardens). We will also be discussing various planned outings and events at the CF&G throughout 2023, including the 2nd Annual WANDER-thon fundraising event at the Christopher Farm & Gardens scheduled for Friday and Saturday, August 18th & 19th!View PDF