Tuesday, December 27, 2011


When I was a kid, my dad used to take my brother and me to the Wise Avenue Fire Station in Dundalk, MD to see their annual Christmas train garden.  My brother and his wife, as well as my parents, still visit each year.  Last Monday, Chris and I went to the Centre County Visitors' Center to pick up some brochures to get ideas of things we might do/place we might visit during my two weeks off during the holidays. 

One of the booklets I picked up was "Pennsylvania Where/When" and in it I saw a listing for the Clinton Central Model Railroad Club's Open House.  It was open last Tuesday when we were already over that way visiting Chris' uncle who lives south of Williamsport (hi, Denny!) but it didn't open until 6 PM and even after spending some time at the Grizzly Store, Gander Mountain, and Wheels of Williamsport, it was still only 4:30 as we went by the Lock Haven/Castanea exit on US 220 last week.  We didn't want to kill 90 minutes in/around Lock Haven, so we decided to return today (the next day it would be open). 

We left the house at 5 PM tonight and arrived just after 6 PM (tonight's hours were 6 - 9 PM).  The Model Railroad Club occupies the old train station on Logan Avenue in Castanea.  We entered the station with another family; we were all first-time visitors.  The gentleman at the front desk explained that we were in an old rail station dating back to 1884.  He pointed to the "Lock Haven" station sign hanging above his head and indicated that it was the original sign for the station.  He explained that this year's garden theme was "Thomas the Tank Engine - that there was a small train running under the club's Christmas tree and a few others up on the main garden.  

Spanish influenza of 1918?  Oh noes!!!

We made our way into the main garden room and spent about 40 minutes admiring the train garden.

The little boy in this picture reminded me of my brother when he was little.  He analyzed every train that went by.  He inspected every detail of the layout that was in front of him.  And one of the gentlemen in the club said to the boy's mother, "Back again?"  She laughed and nodded.  Clearly, this little boy loves the train garden!

I was really curious about the handheld controllers the club members were using to control the trains.  I'm used to the boxy transformers/controllers from my dad's and brother's gardens.

Switch map

Another switch map and a white board layout of the roundhouse.

Another switchboard.  Talk about complicated!

We had a great time visiting the Open House.  All that was missing was cheap orange drink and butter cookies and it would have felt like the Wise Avenue of yesteryear.  (I understand it's bigger and better and very crowded these days.) 

I said to Chris as we were getting out of the car to head into the station tonight, "I'm glad we went to the visitors' center last week; we wouldn't know about this otherwise."  Let that be a lesson!  Even in your hometown, it doesn't hurt to hit the visitors' center from time to time to see what's new and/or what you might be missing!!! 

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