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People track to Railroad Heritage Days

June 13, 2005|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

shappell@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - Two-year-old Alex McCauley, of Waynesboro, Pa., briefly seemed perplexed Sunday while deciding whether to play with switches that operated an elaborate model train set or jump onto a toy train that rode on toy tracks inside the Hagerstown Roundhouse Museum.

Alex soon turned and said "And, that one ... bye," as he rode a few feet away on the toy train.

Sunday was the second and final day of the annual Railroad Heritage Days event, which marked both the 15th anniversary for the event and museum, said Robert "Bob" Tracey Sr., the museum's director.

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Those in attendance, many of whom were children, roamed inside and outside of the museum at 300 S. Burhans Blvd. on a hot afternoon. While there were toy trains for children to ride, photographs of old schedules and model train displays that included both downtown and countryside scenes inside the building, there were several open train cars on hand for tours outside.

Rhonda Munson, of Williamsport, said she brought her grandson, Alex, because it was a good way to start teaching him some local history.

"I think that the trains are a big part of our heritage (in Washington County), and it's good exposure for the little ones," Munson said.

Tracey said that more than 550 people attended between Saturday and the first half of Sunday's event. He said usual weekend attendance is approximately 150 people.

Tracey said this year's event was special not only because of the anniversary but because of the unveiling of four train pieces new to the museum.

Among them were two Western Maryland Railway cars, to which painting and restoration was completed Saturday, and the state-donated "Maryland Operation Lifesaver" caboose, which still displays its original colors. Tracey said he was also excited to show off "Dinky," a half-century-old, still-functional locomotive donated to the museum earlier this year by St. Lawrence Cement.

"A lot of old things are new today," Tracey said.

Tracey's hunch that many who attended did so at requests of their children or grandchildren was confirmed by several at the museum Sunday including Donald Detrow of Halfway.

"His pride and joy is trains," Detrow said of his grandson, Bryan Detrow, 4.

Karen Huse-Clifton said Sunday was her first time at the event and something she knew would excite her son, Gregory Huse-Clifton, 4. Huse-Clifton said Gregory, who has train-based cartoons and toys at their Waynesboro, Pa. home, "kept going 'woo-woo.'"

"He's just climbing on every train. He just loves them," she said.

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