Trains of Christmas roll for visitors at Roundhouse

January 18, 1998

Trains of Christmas roll for visitors at Roundhouse


Staff Writer

Hollie Smith, 8, watched with delight as the Lionel trains circled the tracks around a town of model buildings.

"I like it, especially the one with all the animals on it," she said, pointing to a circus train.

More than 2,000 people have visited the Hagerstown Roundhouse Museum's Trains of Christmas display since it opened in mid-December.

Hollie, and her sister Kaylyn Smith, 10, were the guests of their grandfather, Donald Catrow, 66, a model railroad enthusiast since his father gave him a train set when he was eight years old.

He still has it.

He has a model railroad set up in his basement and occasionally lets his granddaughters take the controls. On Saturday, he decided to take them to the museum's display.


This is the eighth year for the Christmas display.

Volunteers Blaine Snyder and Bill Knode began setting up the display in mid November.

"Every year, the layout is different," Knode said.

About 800 feet of track carries 12 trains and a trolley line through the plastic village.

More than 80 vehicles and 100 people are set up.

The layout contains some delightful vignettes for those paying attention to the details - Santa Claus and his reindeer-pulled sleigh are stopped by a Maryland State Police trooper. The platform is only 22 inches off the floor so children can see it easily, Knode said.

The layout is intended for visitors, not for model railroad purists who do not believe in mixing trains or buildings from different eras.

"This is a pure fantasy land," Knode said. "It's a Christmas display.

"We have people who come back every year now. It's become part of their Christmas celebration," Knode said.

The museum draws more people after the holidays than before, he said.

Matthew Shives, 4, watched the trains from his father's arms while his sister Kristen, 18 months, peered over his shoulders from his back.

Matthew Shives' eyes grew wide with appreciation at the layout. He said he has a smaller one at home.

"I have a little one at home," he said.

Mike Whittington, 8, of Hagerstown, said, "I like trains. I don't have a big set up like this, but I have a couple of tracks."

The event continues today and next weekend, Jan. 24-25. The museum at 300 S. Burhans Blvd. is open from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $2.50 for adults and 50 cents for children 12 and younger.

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