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Trains keep rolling at Rural Heritage Museum

Antique model trains, cookies galore were a big draw at the Washington County Rural Heritage Museum's annual Christmas open hous

Antique model trains, cookies galore were a big draw at the Washington County Rural Heritage Museum's annual Christmas open hous

December 16, 2002|by RICHARD BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

The trains stopped running Saturday at the Washington County Rural Heritage Museum's annual Christmas open house until Nelson Deal saved the day.

An antique Lionel train display is a special feature of the two-day event being held at the Washington County Agricultural Education Center.

From 300 to 400 patrons were expected to visit the museum Saturday and today, said James Reeder, president of the museum's board of directors.

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"We've had a nice crowd so far," he said mid-afternoon Saturday.

Frank Schaller, Mike Stephens and Deal were manning a three-train setup in front of the museum's replica of an early 20th-century general store when the trains stopped running.

The display, still perfectly intact, was built by Schaller's father, Joseph Schaller, in 1949. Some of the trains were Frank Schaller's when he was a boy and there were two very old engines, a Lionel and a Marx that his father had when he was a boy.

The trouble started when the transformer, estimated to be about a half-century old, gave out and stopped supplying power to the electric locomotives. The transformer reduces the incoming 110 volts to 16 volts, Schaller said.

Deal headed for the N&W Train Shed, a hobby shop in Williamsport, to find a transformer. He returned with a rebuilt one of the same vintage as the broken one. It got the wheels rolling again.

Deal said it cost him $85.

Trains weren't the only attraction.

Patrons entering the front door were greeted with the sweet aroma of fresh Christmas cookies. Since November, nine women who are members of the museum have kept busy baking 100 dozen cookies to hand out free.

The varieties were plentiful and mixed. Trays on the table were lined with butter cremes, chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, date pinwheels and sugar cookies, some filled with M&Ms or broken Snickers bars. Mulled cider and a tasty green punch were also being served.

Santa Claus, in the person of Phil Muritz, 57, of Smithsburg, sat in an antique sleigh and held, talked to and gave candy canes to a bunch of children who came in with their parents.

There is no admission fee to go to open house but the museum accepts donations. The museum is normally open on weekends from April through October and on special request.

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