The Greeley Area Chamber of Commerce with museum staff and volunteers celebrate the grand opening of the museum’s new plaza.
A new plaza at the Colorado Model Railroad Museum honors one of the museum’s longtime supporters.
The museum on Tuesday hosted a ribbon-cutting for the new Al Frank Memorial Plaza.
Frank became a supporter of the Colorado Model Railroad Museum in 2012 when he sent the museum information on its 1919 red caboose.
Over the years, Frank and Executive Director Michelle Kempema had many discussions about how he could create future exhibits and other projects at the museum. In September 2021, Frank donated nearly 500 books, pamphlets and magazines to create the Al Frank Library.
Wanting to leave a lasting gift to the museum, Frank commissioned three bronze statues from artist Randolph Rose in Yonkers, New York. The three statues arrived in Greeley in April 2022. The museum installed the statues in the plaza to welcome visitors as they enter the building.
“All Aboard” depicts a train conductor calling out to signal the train is about to leave. “Goin’ to Grandma’s House” shows a father carrying his daughter as he walks alongside his son.
In addition to the bronze statues, Frank created the designs for the planters in the plaza as well as provided funding for the landscaping and hardscape.
While work on the plaza project began in early 2022, sadly, Frank died on Dec. 3, 2022, before he could see his dream come to fruition.
“Al loved everything to do with railroads — their construction, history, and preservation — and enjoyed educating the public about them as a long-time volunteer at both the Colorado Railroad Museum and the Forney Museum of Transportation,” the museum said in a news release. “He was one of a kind, and he will be dearly missed.”
Frank was self-employed for most of his life and after moving to Colorado, he began working at Electro-Media, an electronics company that specialized in sound system installations.
In 1996, Frank retired from Electro-Media as the company’s sole owner.
Along with his fancy for trains, Frank was a skilled oil painter, jewelry maker and musician. He collected art and antiques and restored classic cars as well as fished and enjoyed ham radios.
The Colorado Model Railroad Museum was founded by David Trussell in 2002. Construction of the facility took seven years. It was unveiled to the community on Memorial Day weekend in 2009.
Since its opening, more than 150,000 visitors have passed through the museum’s door to enjoy railroad artifacts including the 1919 C&S 10583 Caboose, Lionel Trains collection, OC&E Railway HO scale layout and more. The museum hosts special events and activities throughout the year.