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Kids get a real feel for trains at Roundhouse

May 14, 2000|By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

Seated in the 50 year-old train cab at the Hagerstown Roundhouse Museum, Garland Kennedy's hands move quickly, pulling knobs and pressing levers.

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The 4-year-old train enthusiast was in awe of the sights and sounds of the locomotive displays at the Hagerstown museum.

"I love it," he said.

The Kennedy family spent Mother's Day indulging the boy in his favorite pastime at a special hands-on exhibit for children at the Roundhouse Museum.

"He's in heaven," said the boy's mother, Sherrie Kennedy, of Kensington, Md.

Garland has 15 train sets at home, she said.

After playing with the train cab, the Kennedys roamed around the two-story museum looking at pictures of a variety of trains, watching a video and viewing two elaborate working model train exhibits.

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Garland Kennedy later tried his hand at running four model trains in a room set up just for children, where he also had fun riding a child-size Thomas the Train engine, he said.

The family has visited train museums across the state and drove more than two hours to see the Hagerstown Roundhouse Museum at 300 S. Burhans Blvd, said Sherrie Kennedy.

She said the local museum compared favorably to others they'd seen and praised it for its interactive displays.

"It's the ability to touch that makes it come alive," said Kennedy.

She said she was glad to devote her Mother's Day to a family excursion, especially one that her children enjoy so much.

"It's the perfect thing to do on a weekend," she said.

The Hagerstown Roundhouse Museum this year is celebrating its 10th anniversary, said Bob Tracey, museum first vice president.

In addition to the on-site exhibits, the museum organizes train excursions, an annual Railroad Railways celebration, Christmas train show and downtown displays.

Tracey watched as the children moved the switches, making a model train travel along the track. He pointed out vintage railroad cars, a livestock car with a farm hand cleaning out a stall and a car filled with fish.

"That's what it's all about," he said, referring to the visiting children.

"They can see the real thing outside and come inside and run some old trains," he said.

Emily Ford of Smithsburg brought her son Kywnn Johnson, 3, to the museum on Sunday after seeing it mentioned in the newspaper, she said.

"I thought we'd come down and see what it's all about, she said.

The two spent more than an hour at the museum looking at displays and playing with the hands-on exhibits. Her son said his favorite exhibit was one on the first floor which had a Thomas the Train Engine model.

"We've really enjoyed our visit," she said.

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