I have driven past the Heart of Dixie Train & Railroad Museum in Calera, Alabama (just south of Birmingham) many times while taking my kids to and from Indianapolis and Mobile, and finally had the opportunity to stop and check it out. Being boys, I thought my twins would love this, especially since it’s free.
What we found was mostly old, rusty trains that you were only supposed to walk around (I’d like to say that’s all we did, but it would be a lie – we did climb up a few). A few you could walk up and look in a small space. I didn’t quite understand why they couldn’t restore at least a few for walking through or sitting and watching train videos. Though apparently there is some indoor museum part that we did not find.
Other than that the money maker is the train rides. The day we were there, the Cottontail Express left on what they said was an hour and half or so ride – and apparently this included an Easter egg hunt, judging by the baskets being carried by the kids. This was a very popular train and I can’t speak for its value.
Since we didn’t have that kind of time (and our experience on the Polar Express at Indiana’s White Water Valley Railroad wasn’t the best), we decided to ride the little museum train, which apparently had been purchased from the Birmingham Zoo. This was advertised as a 12-minute ride. What it was was about 4 minutes at best riding so fast all my boys could do was brace themselves and wait for it to be over. This was quite disappointing for the $3/person we paid for it. However, others getting off later seemed to have enjoyed it, so perhaps our expectations were too high, considering the Indianapolis Zoo offers a much longer one for a much less price.
All in all I would rate this experience about one star, but if you want more information, visit http://www.hodrrm.org/