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Trains right on track for Christmas

November 30, 2003|by LAURA ERNDE

laurae@herald-mail.com

Madison Smith, 4, liked to spot her favorite miniature train each time it came around the circular track.

Her 2-year-old brother, Cameron, kept pointing to "Gordon, Gordon," referring to a favorite Thomas the Tank Engine character.

But Cameron's twin, Jordan, simply took it all in, silently and raptly.

There was a lot to take in Saturday at the annual Trains of Christmas display at the Hagerstown Roundhouse Museum.

The 14th annual train layout features 1,000 feet of track on four levels. The trains pass miniature cities and industrial sites. There's even a winter recreation park with moving skiiers and ice skaters.

Volunteers began setting up the display in September and were just putting away their supplies when the doors opened to the public for the first time on Friday, Bill Knode said.

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Neil Smith, father to Madison, Cameron and Jordan, said going to see the display is becoming an annual family tradition.

Smith lives in Lambertville, Mich., but he frequently returns to his hometown of Hagerstown to visit his family.

He and his father are now talking about resurrecting a train display they used to set up during the holidays.

Teresa and Richard Yates, who were visiting her brother in the area for Thanksgiving, said the layout might also inspire them to set up a display back home in Commerce, Ga.

For a better view of the trains, 3-year-old Philip Drohat rode on the shoulders of his dad, Alex Drohat, of Albany, N.Y.

His father, Don Drohat, of Boonsboro, recalled his younger days growing up in a small Vermont town. When the trains would pass through the mountains, he could tell the weather by the sound their whistles made. If it was foggy, the whistle would sound muffled.

The trains also brought back good memories for Jane Wetzel, 81, of Hagerstown.

"I used to love to ride the trains when I was young," she said.

Twice, she took the train to Mississippi to see her husband who was stationed at Camp Shelby army base.

Growing up, Wetzel lived in Edgemont. She and her mother used to walk the train tracks to Smithsburg.

But she always refused to walk across the railroad bridge for fear a train might unexpectedly arrive.

The museum opened 10 minutes early Saturday to accommodate a line of visitors who were waiting to see the display, Knode said.

Museum volunteers said about 300 people visited the display Saturday afternoon.

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