As locals and visitors to Mérida already know, the city is chock-full of museums, art galleries, music venues, and all sorts of attractions.
While some of these draw hundreds or thousands of visitors a day, others seem to slide under the radar, even for those in the neighborhood.
One of these under-visited attractions is the Museo de Ferrocarriles de Yucatán, Yucatán’s Railroad Museum. With all the talk surrounding the Mayan Train, we thought it was about time to bring you a tour of this tremendously underrated attraction.
This outdoor museum located just across from La Plancha Park features a great number of train carriages and locomotives spanning Yucatán’s railway history. Most of the wagons and locomotives on display date to the late 19th century through the 1980s.
Railroads were key to Yucatán’s development in the 19th century as they connected the Peninsula’s many henequen plantations with ports such as Sisal.
While most newcomers to Mérida have no memory of passenger trains running through the Peninsula, only a few decades ago rail was a common form of transportation from Mérida to destinations such as Progreso and Izamal.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of the museum is that visitors are allowed to explore virtually all of the carriages and locomotives.
One of the first things you are likely to notice when visiting the museum is the wide array of colors used to paint the wagons, which create quite a contrast when set against Yucatán’s often clear blue skies.
On most days the museum does not receive that many visitors. According to administrator Pedro Garrido, it is not unusual for the museum to not attract any visitors at all during weekdays, so with good timing, you could have the entire place to yourself.
The rail museum is particularly ideal for children, as its wide-open spaces and ample opportunities for climbing the trains are sure to get them excited.
The future of the museum was called into doubt earlier this year, as support from the rail union for the museum dried up. But union employees decided to take on the task of cleaning up the park themselves after a nearly 20-month closure caused by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This is a very special place and it would be a shame to let it die after 20 years, that’s why we are continuing to fight to keep it open,” said Pedro Garrido.
The rail museum is now also pivoting towards hosting more events as a way to collect funds. A good example is the upcoming Festival del Taco, to be held next weekend.
The Yucatán Railroad Museum, on Calle 43 near 48, Centro, is open from Tuesday to Sunday between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. General admission for 30 pesos for adults and 15 for children.