Living history leaps into the future with new exhibit

By From page B12 | January 22, 2014

Against the backdrop of powerful wind turbines and a beloved historic railway, visitors are exploring the future of energy and transportation at a new exhibit presented by the Western Railway Museum.

Traction Labs, an interactive exhibit highlighting renewable energy solutions, opened in November and has been attracting visitors of all ages from throughout California and beyond.

The Western Railway Museum, popular for its scenic train rides through the Solano countryside and its collection of historic trains, leaps into the future with the exhibit that propels participants into a time 20 years from today. Traction Labs features six hands-on activities, which explore numerous renewable power sources such as solar, wind and water. Visitors get a glimpse of the serious questions and possible solutions regarding modern energy and transportation choices.

“In Traction Labs, the year is 2040. How will people get around? Where will the power to run America come from? These are the issues the exhibit challenges young people to think about,” explained Phil Kohlmetz, executive director of the Western Railway Museum.

“While the Western Railway Museum preserves and interprets the heritage of railroads powered by electricity, we want to be sure the history we preserve is relevant to the concerns of today’s world. How our society addresses the issues of energy and transportation will have tremendous impact for generations to come,” said Kohlmetz.

A highly interactive exhibit aimed towards students in grades 3 through 8, as well as adults, Traction Labs has been in the planning stages for the past six years. Kohlmetz hired Cinnabar, a professional museum design and fabrication firm in California, to assist in the implementation, since the size and scope of the exhibit was far beyond anything the museum has ever done before.

Among the local businesses that have contributed to the new exhibit is EDF Renewable Energy, which has been a leader in the development of wind power in the county. Major financial support also has come from companies interested in education: Valero Benicia Refinery, the Bruce Singer Education Fund and the Billy and Louise Yarbrough Family Foundation.

Traction Labs is open to all visitors to the museum located at 5848 State Highway 12 in Suisun City.

Admission is $7 for kids 2-14, $9 for seniors over 65 and $10 for adults and includes the opportunity to take a ride on one of the museum’s historic streetcars.

For more information visit the museum’s Website or call 707-374-2978.

The Western Railway Museum is owned and operated by the Bay Area Electric Railroad Association, a non-profit, public-benefit, historical and educational organization.

Western Railway

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