The Mahwah Museum
201 Franklin Turnpike
Mahwah, NJ 07430
Open: Wednesday-1:00pm-4:00pm/Saturday & Sunday 1:00pm-4:00pm/Closed Monday-Tuesday Thursday-Friday
Fee: Non-Members $5.00/Members Free
I visited the Mahwah Museum over the weekend and found a very engaging suburban museum that had interesting exhibitions on the subjects of Women’s Rights, Mahwah history, Les Paul memorabilia and train sets that would delight any child or the child within. There were a lot of small children that were getting a kick out the trains in the basement going around and around.
The Mahwah Museum is open during the Northwest Bergen History Coalition Weekend
The staff is very nice and very engaging with the visitors. They will walk you through some of the exhibitions, explain the concepts and make up of the exhibits. You can see most of the museum in one day but there is a lot to read so try to make a few trips to this interesting little museum in the middle of Mahwah, New Jersey.
Les Paul Exhibition at the Mahwah Museum
The Mahwah Museum:
The mission of the Mahwah Museum Society is to preserve and present the history of the community and its connection to the region. Museum exhibits display information about the history of Mahwah and the surrounding community. The Museum’s collection of artifacts, photographs, historical records and documents is carefully preserved, documented and cataloged and is available by appointment to historians and researchers. By encouraging discovery, understanding and appreciation of the region’s heritage, the Museum provides perspective for the present and the future.
The Society is comprised of the Mahwah Museum at 201 Franklin Turnpike and the Old Station Museum and Caboose at 1871 Old Station Lane. The Mahwah Museum opened in 2001 and hosts several permanent exhibitions and a main exhibit on two levels. Permanent exhibits include: Les Paul in Mahwah, The Donald Cooper Model Railroad, the Who’s Who of Mahwah, the Lee Vold Gallery and a topographical model of Mahwah Township. The main exhibit changes periodically. Please check http://www.mahwahmuseum.org for current exhibits.
The Old Station Museum and Caboose opened in 1967. The restored Erie cupola caboose shows the daily operations of train crew life. The Old Station Museum was the original Erie Station in Mahwah built in 1871. Many Erie Railroad artifacts and photos related to passenger trains are displayed. The Museum is a great resource for adults and children. Educational programs are offered frequently.
The Trains of the Mahwah Museum:
The Mahwah Museum has an extensive collection of model trains representing all scales. This collection has been made possible by generous donations from the Cooper-Darboe and Margolis families.
The Donald Cooper Model Railroad:
Located in the lower level of the museum, the Donald Cooper Model Railroad is a DCC powered, 28″ x 13″ operating HO gauge model railroad. Designed as a walk-in layout, the visitor can experience the sights and sounds of a real operating railroad.
The collection that makes up the railroad was donated to the museum by Renee Cooper-Darboe of Mahwah, New Jersey. Donald Cooper lived in Mahwah on Island Road. He went to work for the Erie Railroad in Buffalo, New York as a Yard Supervisor. He was employed by the railroad until the 1960 merger with the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western. After he left the railroad, he moved back to Mahwah and began installing security systems.
It was during this time he met and married his wife, Renee and learned his electrical skills. After retiring, he and Renee decided to construct a model railroad representing the trains that went through his yard in Buffalo. From 1990 to 1995 Don worked constructing the tracks and doing the electrical work while Renee built the buildings and carefully placed the people in the railroad cars. Sadly, Don passed away in 1998 and the railroad sat unused for 8 years. Renee contacted the museum in 2006 and asked if we would like a “train set”. The rest, as they say, is history.
The railroad consists of four levels, a subway, two mainline tracks and a fully operational train yard. We also have a logging railroad and a trolley line. The Donald Cooper Model Railroad is a permanent exhibit of the Mahwah Museum and open during its regular operating hours on Saturday and Sunday. Volunteers are always welcome. No experience is needed. Please visit our museum website for more information.
Jerome Margolis Lionel Collection:
Jerome Margolis was an avid collector of Lionel “O” gauge trains. He was also the owner of one of the most popular pizza restaurants in the area, Kitchley’s Tavern. People visiting his restaurant were treated to three large display cases filled with his trains. What they didn’t know was that he had many more stored away. Thanks to his son, George, they are no longer out of view.
Our museum was the lucky recipient of the remainder of this collection. Currently they are in static display in out layout room for our visitors to enjoy. The collection represents many of Lionel’s most popular models from the 1970’s through 2005. The famous Santa Fe, red and silver “War-Bonnet” F7, Union Pacific “Big-Boy articulated locomotive and Pennsylvania “Mountain” steam locomotive are just a few pieces in the collection. Come and enjoy this wonderful collection of some of America’s best known locomotives.
The Mahwah Museum Society is a nonprofit corporation under the laws of New Jersey and has qualified as a 501(c)(3) tax exempt entity under the Internal Revenue Code. It is governed by a volunteer Board of Trustees.
Open Weekends and Wednesdays from 1:00pm-4:00pm October-June and the Donald Cooper Model Railroad is open on Weekends from 1:00pm to 4:00pm October-June.
The Old Railroad Station Museum in Mahwah, NJ
Their sister Museum, The Old Station Museum and Caboose is located at:
1871 Old Station Lane
Mahwah, New Jersey 07430
It is open Sundays from 2:00pm-4:00pm June-September.
The Mahwah Museum is part of the Northwest Bergen History Coalition.
*This information was taken from the pamphlets provided by the museum on my visit. Take the full afternoon to explore this interesting museum and their exhibitions.
*Please contact the museum for any changes in exhibitions or schedule of times.