Welcome to a journey through the miniature world of model trains! The Washington State Historical Society’s 22nd Annual Model Train Festival chugs into town December 22, 2017 and is open through January 1, 2018. The festival takes place at the History Museum in Tacoma. The state’s largest permanent model train layout is always featured at the museum, operated by Puget Sound Model Railroad Engineers; the Model Train Festival brings other railroad clubs from around Puget Sound to share their amazingly detailed layouts. Visitors can travel among the many displays, watch dozens of tiny engines rolling across trestles and through tunnels, talk with the operators, and make their own train creations in the TNT Activity Room.
“It’s certainly the most wonderful time of the year at the museum,” said Molly Wilmoth, the museum’s lead program manager. “Every available nook and cranny is activated by trains, enchanting kids of every age with intricate, realistic layouts. And the hands-on Activity Room is stocked with toy trains, Legos and Lincoln Logs; it is always a highlight for families.”
Santa is making a stop at the Model Train Festival, too. Come to the museum on Friday, December 22 or Saturday, December 23, from 11:00 AM through 3:00 PM to greet this cheerful visitor from the North Pole and take advantage of a free holiday photo opportunity.
“The Historical Society really enjoys hosting the Model Train Festival. The festival has become a popular holiday tradition for families and their guests because it delights the child in all of us. Everyone has fun watching the model trains and just enjoying the festive atmosphere, not to mention learning a bit about the history of railroads while they’re here,” said the museum’s director, Jennifer Kilmer.
In addition to the model trains, in the Great Hall of Washington History visitors can see artifacts and find out more about how the railroads influenced growth and development in Washington State. The Telegraph – Morse Code Club will present an interactive display chronicling the history of the telegraph as it relates to railroading. Visitors can also stop by Operation Lifesaver’s exhibit, educating the public about safety at railroad highway crossings and the dangers of trespassing on railroad property. Their current focus is the new Amtrak route between Tacoma and Nisqually.
The Tacoma Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society (NRHS) will be on-site to celebrate and promote the 20th anniversary of Rail Camp, which gives teens the opportunity to spend a week with other teens who share railroad interests. The NRHS crew will also honor the end of an era: Since 1914, at least one train per day, almost every day, carried passengers from Portland to Tacoma, rolling along the Puget Sound shoreline and Commencement Bay. That passenger service ends on December 18, 2017. NRHS will share photos and stories of the route’s 103-year history.
Bring the railroad buffs in your life to the Washington State History Museum, 1911 Pacific Avenue, Tacoma, for this annual celebration of holiday cheer and history. Details at www.ModelTrainFestival.org.
The museum will be closed on December 24, Christmas Eve, and December 25, Christmas Day.