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Trains display evokes memories

December 23, 2002|by LAURA ERNDE

laurae@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - For former railroad worker Charlotte Muritz, the Hagerstown Roundhouse Museum's "Trains of Christmas" display Saturday brought back many memories.

It also created new ones for her and her 2-year-old grandson, Cole Nussear.

Muritz, of Smithsburg, watched Cole run a Thomas the Tank Engine model train that was set up on a knee-high platform for young visitors to the Burhans Boulevard museum.

Muritz reminisced about her days as a railroad clerk. During part of her 22-year stint with the railroad, she worked out of the very building where the museum now displays its miniature models.

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The roundhouse itself was torn down in March 1999, but the museum is trying to carry on the railroad heritage that gave the Hub City its nickname, museum President Bob Tracey said.

Tracey said the Christmas display will remain open on weekends through February or March, depending on the demand.

Tracey's grandson, 12-year-old Ben Cunningham of Inwood, W.Va., watched over one of the layouts Saturday. He said he listens for clacking sounds that may signal one of the four trains is about to derail.

When some visitors approach, he asks them if they can find a mirror anywhere within the train layout.

They are stumped so he points to a tunnel under a bridge. The mirror gives the illusion that the tunnel goes all the way through.

"I just learned that today," he said.

Lynn and Vince Drenner of Hagerstown came because they thought their 5-year-old daughter Morgan would enjoy the trains.

"I remember growing up that my aunt had trains set up that ran from room to room. I guess that's what drew me here," Lynn Drenner said.

The Drenners are thinking about getting into the hobby. One enthusiast suggested they go with larger trains so Morgan can easily handle them, she said.

Museum member Larry Weedon, 30, of Frederick, Md., tells visitors just about anything they'd ever want to know about local railroad history, from the evolution of railroad logos to the train schedules.

His personal collection includes so many trains that he rotates the display throughout the season to feature trains from every decade.

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