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.
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.