Maxwell museum

Connie Maret, a retired railroader, leads a group through the grounds of the Maxwell Siding Railroad Museum June 20 in Hermiston. The museum is open Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and other times by appointment.

HERMISTON — A pair of retired Union Pacific Railroad employees invites people to visit the Maxwell Siding Railroad Museum.

Located next to Hermiston’s Hodge Park, 100 W. Highland Ave., Connie Maret and John Spinden welcome visitors to the museum each Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. There is no admission charge, but donations are accepted. In addition, they are willing to open the museum on other days or for special events.

Both octogenarians, Maret and Spinden — who collectively put in more than 87 years at the railroad — enjoy sharing about their days working at the railroad, as well as providing information about the railroad’s history in the area.

Cory Reasor said volunteers assisted with a June 15 cleanup effort around the museum. He said with Maret and Spinden both in their 80s, it’s difficult for them to maintain upkeep by themselves. In addition to clearing weeds, recent graffiti was removed, Reasor said. Also, Reasor recently started helping with a Facebook page about the museum.

“I thought it would help in bringing more attention to the museum,” he said. “Not a lot of local people really know about it.”

Bill Sheller, a member of Three Rivers Model T Ford Club, manned a barbecue on June 20 at the museum site. Members of the Model T club received first-class treatment from Maret and Spinden, as they showed off different equipment before enjoying lunch at the museum. Sheller, who retired after 31 years with the railroad, said it’s nice to have people learn more about railroad history.

The museum utilizes rails from an old siding site that predates Hermiston’s incorporation. In addition to a 1913 George Pullman dining car, the museum grounds feature a pair of rotary snowplows, including one that was steam-powered. The site also includes more than six motorcars, a telegraph office and a 1912 passenger coach full of railroad memorabilia.

The museum was founded in the mid-1980s. Former municipal Judge John Bennett said it would provide an opportunity for residents and visitors to gain a further glimpse into the region’s railroad history.

For more information or to schedule a special tour, call Spinden at 541-571-8620, 541-567-3759 or Maret at 541-567-8532.

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Contact Community Editor Tammy Malgesini at tmalgesini@eastoregonian.com or 541-564-4539

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