Railroad museum hosts annual festival

June 10, 2005|by CHERYL M. KEYSER

The "All Aboard!" call will ring out as Railroad Heritage Days get underway at the Hagerstown Roundhouse Museum Saturday, June 11, and Sunday, June 12, with activities for the young and young-at-heart.

This is not only the 15th year of this event, it is also the 15th anniversary of the museum.

"The first year there were just a few displays, the building itself, and some rail equipment," said Bill Knode, publicity director for the Roundhouse Museum.

But Railroad Heritage Days now has grown into a major attraction, showcasing the importance of trains to Hagers-town.

"My philosophy is education through entertainment for both kids and adults," said Knode. "So there are plenty of opportunities for hands-on exploration."

Model train displays are laid out on both floors of the Roundhouse building. Throwing the switches at the corners of the 12-foot-by-14-foot layout on the first floor activates four train lines and a trolley. Within the circuit, a model town is laid out, complete with church, school, bank, homes, even a circus and an oil rig.


In the same room, children can circle a small track on two, tot-sized, riding trains.

The second floor holds several additional large operational model train layouts of both HO and O scale.

The best part of the weekend, however, is the chance to explore the real thing - the railroad equipment stationed in the rail yard.

Climb aboard the dark green Hagerstown and Frederick trolley No. 168 with its classy red and cream trim and visit with representatives from the H&F Historical Society who will be on hand to answer questions.

Or explore Western Maryland's No. 132, a massive Baldwin diesel locomotive, made in 1945, which evokes the majesty and power of train travel. The smaller "40 and 8" World War I-era locomotive, so-called because it pulled boxcars that held 40 men or 8 horses, is on display courtesy of the Morris Frock Post of the American Legion.

Using Western Maryland's caboose No. 1863 as a model, Dwight Jones, a railroad historian, will demonstrate how the names and numbers of cabooses were stenciled on the side.

Jones also will be signing his books on the Western Maryland Railway, the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad, and Maryland cabooses.

Railroad safety programs will be featured in the "Operation Lifesaver" caboose and fire and rescue personnel will stage a mock rescue.

A variety of other vehicles also will be on display, from military equipment to antique fire trucks.

"Hagerstown is still the crossroads of two major railroad lines," said Knode. "From here trains go in every direction - north, south, east and west."

Cheryl M. Keyser is a freelance writer for The Herald-Mail.

If you go ...

WHAT: 15th annual Railroad Heritage Days

WHEN: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, June 11, and Sunday, June 12

WHERE: Hagerstown Roundhouse Museum, 300 S. Burhans Blvd. (U.S. Rt. 11)

COST: Admission is $4;

50 cents for children 12 and younger

CONTACT: 301-739-4665.

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