Jim Murray Jr. had a vision for vacant lots in northeast Oklahoma City in what was becoming known as the “Adventure District” near the zoo in the late 90s.
In 1997 Murray and others started working toward obtaining land and railroad track in northeast Oklahoma City at 3400 NE Grand Blvd. They opened the Oklahoma Railway Museum in 2002.
Murray, 70, still had plans for expansion of the museum grounds, his daughter Anne Murray said. But Jim Murray suffered a stroke May 3 and died May 6.
Inside a garage where Murray was working on a train only a day before his stroke, a garage big enough to work on a train car, his friends, families and supporters plan to gather at his funeral Tuesday.
By 2003, Murray and others managed to move an old railroad depot from Oakwood to the grounds near NE 36 and Lincoln Boulevard. Soon there were old railroad cars, then restored railroad cars and track to run a train.
A decade later, The Oklahoma Railway Museum, has become an active place for families and children.
The museum is known for hosting train rides from “Thomas The Train,” once a year in the fall on tracks between NE 50 and NE 10, a yearly Halloween train ride and a Christmas train ride.
Jim Murray was a machinist who moved to Oklahoma City from Boston, Mass. in 1971. In 1976 he started an air-conditioning business.
In 1981, he started Cannonball Enterprises that built small-scale model railroad cars that were one-eighth the size of a real railroad car.
Anne Murray, museum administrative assistant, said land had been purchased to the north of the museum with plans to build a railroad roundhouse with displays inside.
“We've just started on it and we're in the midst of fundraising to make that happen,” Murray said.
Friends, family and others interested in the museum will be at an 11 a.m. memorial for Jim Murray at the museum inside the main building where he kept working on train cars.
The day before his stroke, Jim Murray was working on a railroad car renovation.
“He was out there all the time working on the museum stuff. He was out there all the time,” Anne Murray said.
He is survived by wife, Anne Murray, and daughters, Anne and Ruth, and son Shaun.
How to help
Make a donation
Jim Murray Jr.'s family asks that instead of flowers, people may make a donation to Oklahoma Railway