The museum reopened just a few weeks prior to my visit to DC. Of course the problem is that the museum closes at 5:30 p.m. When you spend most of the day in meetings it gives you very little time for things like museums.
However, on the final day of our meetings we finished a little bit earlier than normal. Of course I had to stick around for a while, as there were a handful of people who wanted to talk to me. When the meetings were over I dashed up to my hotel room, changed clothes, and zipped back down and hopped on the Metro.
I wasn’t sure what time the National Musuem of American History closed, but I certainly wanted to be there before it did.
I arrived at the museum at about 4:30. I figured, well, I’ve at least got an hour, so I ran in.
The lower level of the museum featured a display about steam power. This was very interesting to me on several different levels. For one thing I earned my degree in Mechanical Engineering, and I find old equipment like this to be fascinating. Also of interest was the fact that my great-grandfather and his brothers owned and operated a big steam-powered sawmill about a century ago. I’ve seen some old pictures of it. There was a big steam engine inside the mill which, via leather belts, turned a shaft in the ceiling of the mill. This shaft ran across the length of the building. All of the saws and other machines inside the mill were connected, again via leather belts, to the rotating shaft in the ceiling. The steam engine was the power source for the entire sawmill.
Inside the museum they had several steam engines which operated various types of industrial operations. They had some which turned shafts with leather belts. I couldn’t help but wonder if any of them were like the steam engine that ran my great-grandfather’s sawmill.
After looking at the steam power display for a while I meanandered over to the display on transportation, where they highlighted things like steam-powered railways, and the development of automobile travel and the advent of freeways. I had made it through to the section covering the 1950’s when a security guard came and told me that the museum was closing and that I would have to leave.
I s…l…o…w…l…y walked out of the museum. As I approacehd the exit I happened to spot the C3PO costume from Star Wars on display. I managed to get a close look at it and snap a picture before I left.over 4 years ago