Six Dazzling Toy Train Displays to Get You in the Holiday Spirit

These displays were chosen by the Smithsonian website. The post was written by Jennifer Nalewicki. Jennifer writes:

With the holidays chugging into full swing, what better way to get into the spirit than by seeing a display of model trains decked out for Christmas? Ever since Lionel introduced its first electronic train set in the early 1900s, model trains have become a ubiquitous part of the holidays, circling shop windows and Christmas trees in households nationwide. Here are six displays across the United States that take this beloved holiday tradition to the next level.”

Holiday Train Show, New York Botanical Garden, New York City

Housed inside the New York Botanical Garden’s 116-year-old Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, the largest Victorian glasshouse in the United States, the Holiday Train Show has been a holiday must luring locals and visitors alike to the Bronx since 1992. Now in its 26th year, the annual event serves as a miniature approximation of New York City, with pint-sized replicas of iconic structures such as the Brooklyn Bridge, One World Trade Center, Yankee Stadium and the conservatory itself, each built by hand using natural materials like twigs and tree bark. Adding to the wonder of the cityscape is nearly a half-mile of railroad tracks circumnavigating the display.

New York Botanical Gardens Holiday Train Show

New York Botanical Gardens Holiday Train Show

I have been to this one – the buildings and bridges are totally amazing.

Holiday Garden Railway, Morris Arboretum, Philadelphia

This year’s display features a quarter mile of garden-scale train tracks comprised of—wait for it—seven loops and tunnels, 15 different rail lines, two cable cars, and nine bridges, including one trestle bridge you can walk under. The jury is still out on whether or not there will be a partridge in a pear tree.

Wonderland Express, Chicago Botanic Garden

Every winter, the Chicago Botanic Garden morphs into a world of wonder during Wonderland Express, the garden’s annual holiday model-train show. Located inside Nicholas Hall, this year’s event features pieces from the garden’s growing collection of nearly 400 train cars and engines as they chug past miniature replicas of more than 80 of the city’s most recognizable buildings and landmarks, including Cloud Gate, Millennium Park and Centennial Wheel, all designed by Paul Busse of Applied Imagination (he’s also the mastermind behind the displays at the New York Botanical Garden and Morris Arboretum.)

Holiday Junction Featuring the Duke Energy Holiday Trains, Cincinnati Museum Center

Since 1946, people of all ages have made it a tradition to see the Duke Energy Holiday Trains in Cincinnati, and this year is no different. Featuring hundreds of model trains that the museum has acquired over the years, some of which date back to the early 1900s, the 9,000-square-foot display is easily one of the country’s oldest. This year’s event is in a new and updated space inside the museum, and features stylized replicas of the Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky skylines designed in Art Deco—a nod to the museum’s architectural roots.

Holiday Junction Featuring the Duke Energy Holiday Trains

Magical Holiday Express, B&O Railroad Museum, Baltimore

Located inside the museum’s cavernous roundhouse, which once served as a working passenger train car shop for the B&O Railroad, the Magical Holiday Express celebrates trains of all shapes and sizes. Climb onboard a working train and meet Frosty the Snowman, or simply marvel at the many different model trains on display.

B&O Railroad Museum, Baltimore

B&O Railroad Museum, Baltimore

Trains at NorthPark Center, Dallas

Housed inside the New York Botanical Garden’s 116-year-old Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, the largest Victorian glasshouse in the United States, the Holiday Train Show has been a holiday must luring locals and visitors alike to the Bronx since 1992. Now in its 26th year, the annual event serves as a miniature approximation of New York City, with pint-sized replicas of iconic structures such as the Brooklyn Bridge, One World Trade Center, Yankee Stadium and the conservatory itself, each built by hand using natural materials like twigs and tree bark. Adding to the wonder of the cityscape is nearly a half-mile of railroad tracks circumnavigating the display.

NorthPark Center, Dallas

NorthPark Center, Dallas

 

York (England) Model Railway Show 2018

English model railway shows are a completely different experience to any I have visited here in the USA. One of my pleasures is watching vids of the English shows. This vid – 1 of 4 – is of the York Railway show. As you will see there are a variety of scales depicted. A word of warning – the vid is 20 minutes long. My favorite layout is one named “Behind the Lines” and shows the “action” behind the lines in World War I. It’s at the 17 min 55 sec mark.

High Sierra Model Train Club in Chico

A gentleman came to the layout last Saturday and told me that I should come to Chico to see the High Sierra Model Railroad club’s layout. I declined on two accounts – (a) it is hot as hades in Chico and (b) for an old phart like me a long way to go. He went on to invite me to view the vids of the layout on YouTube. This one has instantly gone to near the top of my model railroad vids – see for yourself:

The second vid is much longer but for those Club Members who are ex SP this one will surely appeal.

I tried to find a website for the club but failed to do so. So, sorry, can’t give you a heads up.

This is part of an e-mail that I received from club member Mike Aplet:

“[This] is a video of an excellent hillside model train layout that very much approximates our west wall. I didn’t bother to check on which scale it is. I simply was impressed by the realistic landscape details including rock and foliage. The scale doesn’t matter.”

Hope the link works as it is to Facebook:

GEOFF NOTT

FIRST TIME i MET GEOFF NOTT IN 1998. tHIS IS VERY OLD ANALOG FOOTAGE OF THAT DAY. LlAYOUT HAS SINCE BEEN DESTROYED..Enjoy "what was" , but was recorded for an inspiration to others

Posted by Miniature Dioramas, Modelling, Structures & Scenery on Thursday, January 25, 2018

Great layout …… I got several ideas for our layout whilst watching.

 

Club Member Mike Aplet and wife Laura’s visit to the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry and its Model Train

The Museum of Science and Industry (MSI) is located in Chicago, Illinois.It is housed in the former Palace of Fine Arts from the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. Among the museum’s exhibits are a full-size replica coal mine, German submarine U-505  captured during World War II , a 3,500-square-foot model railroad (The Great Train Story), the first diesel-powered streamlined stainless-steel passenger train (Piomeer Zephr), and the Apollo 8 spacecraft that carried the first humans to orbit the Moon.

The museum had an earlier model railroad layout, dating back to the early 1940s when Minton Cronkhite built the original Museum and Santa Fe Railway; a 2,340-square-foot layout in O Scale. This layout had over 1,000 feet (300 m) of track and over 20,000 hand-laid ties. Cronkhite began construction in 1939 and the exhibit made its public debut in January 1941. Much of the rolling stock and locomotives were hand built from scratch by Cronkhite using original Santa Fe plans. It featured Santa Fe’s southwestern freight and passenger operations, including a depiction of the Grand Canyon and quickly became a favorite with children and adults visiting the museum.

In 1953 Central Locomotive Works owner Bob Smith rebuilt the layout and added several diesel locomotives to the steam loco roster. It was updated again in 1988. Wear and tear from six decades of continuous daily use gradually took its toll, and by the time of its demise the layout had only a couple of operating loops. The layout was closed in May 2002. 

It was this layout that I visited in 1970 when I went to Chicago for a week long teaching assignment.

The current layout, The Great Train Story, was conceived by museum exhibit designer John Llewellyn. The layout took a year to build and made its public debut on November 22, 2002. The development team studied visitor interaction with the former layout and designed the new display in a Serpentine shape in order to bring guests into the exhibit to enhance the visual experience. Guests can also avail themselves a bird’s-eye view of the layout from the balcony that surrounds it.  The Great Train Story presents 2,200 miles of scenery and stories from Chicago to Seattle along 1,400 feet of winding track.

There are seven interactive points around the layout provided for visitors to operate various functions including a lumberjack chopping down a tree, blasting for a future mountain tunnel, and an operating drawbridge over the Chicago River.  Street building lights turn on when the exhibition hall’s lights are dimmed during periodic demonstrations of the Boeing 727 suspended overhead.

Alas, I have not seen the new layout. Mike and his wife Laura did see the layout when they visited Chicago during the summer. Laura was really kind and took photos of the layout. Laura told me that she was fascinated by the buildings. Here are her pictures:

Downtown Chicago

Downtown Chicago

Suburbs - superb modelling

Suburbs – superb modelling

The Elevated Commuter Train in Chicago

The Elevated Commuter Train in Chicago

View from the balcony

View from the balcony

This vid was taken by the Museum staff to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the opening of the The Great Train Story. A small camera aboard one of the model trains to capture a track-level view of the towns, crossings and scenery recreated in the exhibit’s Seattle-to-Chicago ride.

If you want to get some idea of of the size of the Museum and have 12 mins to spare check out this vid – I found it fascinating:

Oh, by the way, I’ve moved a visit to the Museum MUCH higher on THE LIST!!

 

G Scale layout at the Living Desert Zoo. Palm Desert, California

Earlier this year I “went south” to visit with good friend and life member of our club (The Mendocino Model Railroad & Historical Society) Bill Shepherd at Joshua Tree. I arrived on a friday evening and over supper Bill said he had a four model train weekend lined up for me. After breakfast on Saturday morning Bill and I set out for our first port of call – The Living Desert Zoo and the G Scale Layout therein.

The layout is just inside the entrance and it is huge. Living Desert volunteers built the railroad along with the world’s longest wooden “G” scale trestle measuring 202 feet and 8 inches. Currently there are more than 3,300 feet of track laid. With six different loops of track, each varying from 150 feet to over 900 feet long, the railroad has grown to 3/4 acre. The mainline train travels on 940 feet of track and runs through Old Indio, past the Grand Canyon and along side the mining and logging areas. The trains are driven into a workshop each night.

I have been sitting on this blog for quite some time. It wasn’t till i looked at the mass/mess of photos that I took for, maybe,  the fifth time that I got a handle on why I wasn’t raving enthusiastically about the layout. These four photos put me in touch with why:

Click on a photo to enlarge and set the slideshow running.

Look at all the hundreds of people crowding around – do you see them all? It took Bill and I about 40 minutes to circumnavigate the layout and we were virtually the only ones looking at the layout.. Why? The layout is a masterpiece in design and the execution is excellent but somehow it is barren – there isn’t enough activity to occupy the eye. Our layout is loaded with eye candy – this one – well it just doesn’t bustle. Perhaps the fact that you have to search the Living Desert website for even a mention of the layout tells its own story.

Well, as I said, I did take a lot of photos ………

And the zoo itself. Very large and quite good.

And it was HOT.