In 1998, the City of Tucson purchased the former Southern Pacific Railroad Depot on Toole Avenue downtown. Restoration of the main depot building and the three adjacent buildings to their 1941 architectural style was completed in 2004.
Prior to restoration, the City, in conjunction with a Citizen's Intermodal Task Force, created a Master Plan to guide their efforts. That plan called for devoting the former Records Building on the depot site to a transportation museum. The first of the three outlying buildings on the depot site, the Records building was built in three stages (1907, 1910, 1922), the latest stage completing the building as we see it today.
A management committee was formed in 2001 to complete the task of establishing the museum. The museum is now a division of Old Pueblo Trolley, Inc which was founded in 1983. By 2003, as well as completing a formal study, the museum was awarded a variety of grants and private donations that funded the museum exhibits. On March 20th, 2005, the 125th Anniversary of the Arrival of the Railroad in Tucson, the museum was dedicated with the help of Mayor Bob Walkup.
The museum needs community support to continue to preserve and interpret Southern Arizona railroad heritage through the museum's educational outreach, oral history and archival collections.