Visit the Donald Cooper Model Railroad!

The Donald Cooper Model Railroad is open on weekends ONLY. The DCMRR is CLOSED on Wednesday’s.

Admission to the DCMRR is included with admission to the museum. Admission is $5.00 for non-members 17+, members and children are free.

**Please note: We cannot process credit or debit cards inside the museum.***

Get on board with the Donald Cooper Model Railroad!  A four-level-high, DDC- controlled model train layout  has something for every size, child or adult.  The layout honors the importance of the railroad in Mahwah’s development and history!

The Donald Cooper Model Railroad continues to entertain children of all ages with seven trains running at a time. Adults and children delight as they watch over the four layers of the railroad, seeing the many wonderful things that are made possible only by the assistance of trains! As the passenger cars make their way through the Amtrak stops and the subway stations, and mine workers wait for their lumber load to arrive, thirty-car coal trains take large sweeping curves as they climb the grades of the two-track main mahwah5mahwah2line!

The Blue Main Line sits between the lower level and the large freight yard and passenger terminal. You can find either passenger or freight trains making their way along the rocky cliffs that identify this line. Trains coming from Union Station or the freight yard must enter this line before heading down the connector track to the large lower level main line.

Come visit our railroad to see it in action. See also our collection of Lionel “O” Gauge trains representing railroads all across the country and all types of locomotives.

This exhibit was made possible through the generous donations of Renee and Ebrima Darboe of Mahwah, New Jersey and the Margolis family of Ramsey, New Jersey.

Admission to the railroad is included in your admission to the museum. If you are interested in model railroading, we would welcome you as a member of our crew. The requirements are a love of the hobby, being twelve years of age or older, and becoming a member of the Mahwah Museum Society. If you have any questions please click here to email our train crew or call 201.512.0099 and leave a message for the train crew.

Please note: The DCMRR is NOT open on Wednesdays, it is NOT a train ride and it is NOT a free train display. The DCMRR is a permanent exhibit at Mahwah Museum, open Saturdays and Sundays from 1-4 Sept-June.



Are you a train buff? The Donald Cooper Model Railroad is one of our most popular permanent exhibits. The layout is a favorite stop for children of all ages. For more information about how to volunteer with the DCMRR crew please click here.

Discover Mahwah’s History, Explore our Archives


archives2The Mahwah Museum has a rich collection of personal and family papers, business papers, organizational records, newspapers, oral histories, video recordings, books on disk and other objects. We are currently organizing these collections and putting guides to them on our website to facilitate use.

  • Mahwah Museum is actively collecting more materials about Mahwah’s past and is interested in hearing from anyone who might have materials to donate. If you have old photographs, letters, artifacts or other materials about the people, places, businesses, and history of our region, please consider donating them to the museum for preservation and use by the whole community.
  • If you have materials, but want to keep the originals, we can arrange to scan them for use in the archive.
  • We welcome researchers interested in using the collections for their research,  but ask that you please contact our archive director at before coming so that we can set up a time and locate materials for you,before you arrive.
  • If you are interested in learning how to describe and process archival collections, consider volunteering with us. We need help to organize and make available these great resources. Many hands make light work!

Click here for descriptions of our collections!


Newspaper Digitization Project

Newspaper Digitization Project

Just a few of the clippings and newspapers held by the Museum.

With the generous support of the New Jersey Council for the Humanities,  Mahwah Museum is undertaking an ambitious project to work with the community to digitize our collection of newspaper clippings.

Why Newspapers?

For studying local history, newspapers are one of the best sources available. Day-by-day they tell stories of important events in people’s lives, tragedies and disasters,  politics and development, and the social and cultural life of Mahwah and the region surrounding it. An individual article can be interesting, but when you put together a large collection, it becomes something more. They help us to write the history of our towns.

We have a lot of newspapers in Mahwah Museum’s archives, both complete collections of local papers and individual articles. Clippings present a challenge — do we organize them by date or do we organize them by subject? What happens when more than one subject is discussed? How do we find articles that mention specific people? Digitizing the clippings — scanning them and describing them in a database, enables us to search, sort, and index them in ways that will make them far more useful for research.

Many of the archival collections at the Museum have large collections of clippings. Some, like the ones gathered by Howard Avery, focus on the activities of Mahwah Boy Scout Troop 50 and the Mahwah Board of Education. Others, collected by town historians Janet Brown and John Bristow, feature the  early efforts of the Mahwah Historical Society, telling stories of the history of the township, the region, and the efforts to preserve them. Other collections may have a handful of clippings, obituaries, wedding announcements, or other events.

How Do You Digitize Them?

Cell phone apps make it easy to snap pictures.

Scanning clippings on a flatbed scanner is the best method because it flattens the clipping and lights it evenly. But digital cameras, even those on cell phones and tablets, can get high quality images. Using a cell phone scanning app, like CamScanner, allows cropping and filtering that makes it easy to get a good image.

But scanning the clipping is only the first step. Just having a digital image doesn’t help us find or organize the content of the clipping. For that we’ll use a database program, entering some basic information about the clipping as well as adding subjects and indexing names and organizations.

The final step will be transcribing the clippings to make them text searchable. That’s a long term goals, but for now, we just want to get them under control.

How Does the Newspaper Project Work?

If you are interested, or just want to learn more about it, come to one of the information meetings. There we will do a presentation on the project, show you what we are building, and the kinds of materials that we have.

We will also hold workshops where we teach new members how to participate, and where we work on the clippings. You can participate any way you like.

  • Scanning or taking photographs of clippings
  • Typing the descriptions of the clippings into the database
  • Transcribing articles that others have scanned and described
  • Helping check the work done by others for typos and other errors.
  • Teaching and troubleshooting at workshops and presentations.

We would be happy to organize a special presentation/training for groups, whether scouts, clubs, classes, or other organizations. Just let us know!


Is this just for Mahwah history?

No! We are digitizing clippings from the Northwest Bergen County and Rockland County — including events in Ramsey, Suffern, Wyckoff, and other towns and boroughs. Many of the families who settled this area moved fluidly from town to town and we want to trace it all.

Do you have to be a Mahwah resident, or a member of the Museum?

No! We welcome any and all who are interested in participating.

Where can I access the database?

Because of copyright, we can’t post most of the clippings online, so use will be limited to the Museum. Once we get a good handle on the newspapers covered in the database, we will request permissions and make as many as we can available online.

Do you want scans of clippings I own?

Yes! If you have clippings that cover local history, we would love to include them with the ones the Museum holds. Every little bit helps!

Who do I contact to join / learn more/ schedule a presentation?

Contact us by emailing:



We are now open with these exhibits:

We are featuring four exhibits for the 2018-2019 season, “Kilmer, The Man, Kilmer, The War Years, The First World War Part I and the First World War Part II.

Mahwah Museum is located at 201 Franklin Turnpike, Mahwah, NJ 07430.

Admission to the museum is $5, free for museum members.

Our first exhibit “The First World War Part I and the First World War Part II ” will document the role of the United States in the First World War.

This exhibit commemorates the 100th anniversary of the United States entering the war, at the end of which most European Empires, except Great Britain, ceased to exist, and the League of Nations was formed to prevent the repetition of such a conflict. Mahwah Museum wants to share these events with younger generations not familiar with the Great War, as well as with older generations whose family histories may have been impacted by the war.


Our second exhibit “Kilmer, The Man & Kilmer, The War Years” will focus on local Poet Joyce Kilmer. “A patriot and warrior, a poet and lecturer, a husband and a father, a sergeant in WWI.”


2018 is the 100th anniversary of the death of Joyce Kilmer- poet, journalist and lecturer who enlisted in 1917 to join the fighting and died in action in July, 1918 as a Sergeant with the Fighting 69th. This exhibit tells the story of this greatly-admired hero.

When the Museum is reopened for the 2018-2019 season we will be featuring, aside from our new exhibits, our permanent exhibits:

Les Paul in Mahwah and The Donald Cooper Model Railroad.

Permanent exhibits:

The Donald Cooper Model Railroad

The Museum’s Donald Cooper Railroad is an operating HO-Scale model railroad with many trains traveling between levels and on different routes. Centralized electronic switches allow the operator to control the entire layout from the DCC central control panels. The railroad yard is fully functional allowing operators to make up trains and dispatch them to their own destinations. The four-level high layout has three independent scenic modules that are constantly changing, as well as a trolley, a subway system, logging station, waterfall, roundhouse and turntable. We invite engineers of all ages to come and visit our ever-changing and growing railroad world. The Donald Cooper Model Railroad is open on WEEKENDS ONLY, and NOT open on Wednesday. For information about joining the train crew, please email or call 201-512-0099.

Please note: the DCMRR is not a free train display (admission is free only for members of the museum) and it is not a train ride.

Les Paul in Mahwah

Mahwah Museum has a small permanent exhibit featuring some Les Paul history  which allows visitors to learn the essential facts of Les Paul’s life and career.  It has sections on his inventions and innovations, a display of one-of-a-kind precious guitars made especially for Les, and a re-creation of the studio in which Les did his work.  Learn how this creative genius transformed rock, country and jazz music. See how he and Mary Ford performed for their weekly radio show from their home in Mahwah.


Mahwah Museum receives operating support from the New Jersey Historical Commission in the Department of State.

Become a member of Mahwah Museum!

Join Us!

mahwah6Mahwah Museum hopes you will become part of our family of members and patrons.  Membership includes free admission to the Museum and to our Lecture and Gallery Talk series.

We accept credit cards (online ONLY) though Paypal.  Should you wish to join us by mail, please send your check and vital information to Mahwah Museum, 201 Franklin Turnpike, Mahwah, NJ  07430.  Please make checks payable to Mahwah Museum.  We thank you for your participation.

Individuals ($15)

An Individual Member gets a membership card which entitles the Member to free admission to the Museum; free admission to all of our lectures and gallery talks;  invitations to member events;  free subscription to the newsletter ; and voting privileges at the annual meeting.  Dues are $15 per year per person.  Enjoy our most economical membership for individuals under 62 years of age.

Individual Membership – $15

Seniors ($10)

An individual who has reached the age of  62 can have all the benefits of an Individual Membership at a reduced price. Dues are $10 per year per person.
Museum Senior Membership – $10

Family ($25)

A Family Membership gets a membership card which entitles the all members of an immediate family (parents, plus children under the age of 18) to  free admission to the Museum; free admission to all of our lectures and gallery talks; invitations to member events;  free subscription to the newsletter; and  voting privileges at the annual meeting.  Voting privileges are extended to both adults.

Museum Family Membership – $25

Sponsors ($100-$249)

Sponsorships are an important way in which individuals can provide much needed support to the Museum.  Individual Sponsors get a membership card which entitles members of the Sponsor’s immediate family (parents, including children under the age of 18) to free admission to the Museum; free admission to all of our lectures;  invitations to member events;  free subscription to the newsletter; and voting privileges at the annual meeting.  In addition voting privileges are extended to a second adult.  The Sponsor is recognized in the Museum, on Museum literature, and on our web site.  The following are levels of sponsorship:

Mahwah Museum Sponsor $100 – $249

Museum Supporter ($250 – $499)

The Supporter level is available to both individuals and businesses.  The Supporter level is an important way in which individuals or businesses can provide much-needed support to the Museum. Supporters get a membership card which entitles members of the Supporter’s immediate family  (including spouse, and children under the age of 18) to free admission to the Museum; free admission to all of our lectures; invitations to member events; free subscription to the newsletter; and voting privileges at the annual meeting. In addition, voting privileges are extended to  both adults. The Supporter is recognized in the Museum, on Museum literature, and on our website.

Supporters will receive a signed copy of Images of America: Mahwah by Carol W. Greene.

Mahwah Museum Supporter – $250-$499 

Museum Patron ($500 – $999)

Our Patrons are those who give $500 – $999 in cash, or in goods and services, during a year.  Patrons get free admission to the Museum; free admission to lectures and gallery talks;  a free subscription to the newsletter; invitations to Museum events; voting privileges at the annual meeting;  and recognition as a Patron in the Museum, on Museum literature, and on the Museum’s website and a link to the member’s website.

Patrons will receive one signed copy of The Ramapough Chronicles  by Carol W. Greene. Click here to become a Patron.

Mahwah Museum Patron – $500 – $999

Museum Benefactor ($1000+)

Our Benefactors are those individuals or businesses who pay dues of $1,000+ in a year.  Benefactors get free admission to the Museum; free admission to lectures and gallery talks; free subscription to newsletters; invitations to Museum events; voting privileges at the annual meeting;  and special recognition as a Benefactor of the Museum on Museum literature and on the Museum’s website and may include a link to the member’s web site.  This may include a designated sponsorship of an activity, publication, and/or exhibit as discussed with donor and Museum.

Benefactors will receive one signed copy of The Ramapough Chronicles by Carol W. Greene.

Mahwah Museum Benefactor – $1000+

Become a Volunteer Docent at Mahwah Museum!

Become a Volunteer Docent at Mahwah Museum!

If you are looking for an interesting and fun way to get involved with local history, please consider becoming a volunteer docent at  Mahwah Museum!

Docents work on Saturdays, Sundays, or Wednesdays from 1pm to 4 pm September-June
Our docents are volunteers who open the Museum, guide our visitors to the exhibits, answer questions, and close the Museum at the end of the day.

Docents are needed from 1-4 p.m. Saturdays, Sundays, and Wednesdays from Mid-September to June when the Museum is open.

Docents let us know their availability, and are scheduled according to their requests.

Docents can work as often as they like, and new docents are teamed with experienced docents.
If you choose to volunteer, you will be trained in all of the things you need to know about being a docent, and you will be scheduled months in advance so you can know when you are to help. Docents trade places with each other if problems with scheduling arise, so that the Museum always has docents when the public is invited.

Please email or call the museum if interested- (201) 512-0099