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Railroad Heritage Days leaves weekend fun in its tracks

June 10, 2007|By MARIE GILBERT

HAGERSTOWN-Peggy Eiler had been dating her future husband for about two weeks when she got a sign that she might have some competition.

It was a sign too big to ignore - a vintage placard for Lionel trains.

"It was the first thing you saw when you opened the door to his apartment," Eiler said.

But that wasn't all.

There were O-gauge layouts, memorabilia and train books everywhere.

"But I married him anyway," she joked.

Twenty years later, Eiler is as big a railroad buff as her husband, Jim.

So it was no surprise that the Hagerstown couple would be among the hundreds of people attending this weekend's Railroad Heritage Days.

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The event at the Hagerstown Roundhouse Museum at 300 S. Burhans Blvd., as well as the Hagerstown Railroad Museum in City Park, continues today from 1 to 5 p.m. A trolley is available to take visitors to both sites.

Tickets cost $4 for adults and 50 cents for children 12 and younger.

According to Crystal Sprecher, chairwoman of the event, this is the 17th year for the railroad celebration.

"It's a way to spotlight our railroad heritage," she said. "It's also an opportunity to promote railroad safety for both young and old."

Sprecher estimated the event draws about 700 people each year.

"But it keeps getting bigger and bigger," she said. "It's amazing how many people love trains."

Those attending Railroad Heritage Days can enjoy a wide range of activities, including operational model train layouts, displays of train memorabilia, historic military displays, and locomotive and caboose tours.

Sprecher said there are many hands-on activities for children, plus a visit from an engineer robot.

"It's just a fun weekend for people of all ages," she said. "It's something that adults enjoy as much as the kids - if not more so."

David Karn of Williamsport said he brought his son, Noah, to Railroad Heritage Days "because he absolutely loves trains."

The 2-year-old was fascinated with the Roundhouse Museum's "Trains of Christmas," a large model train layout with miniature buildings and people set in a snow scene.

"He could sit here all day," Karn said. "He's so excited by the animation."

Karn admitted the day was fun for him, too.

"I collect Department 56 houses and do displays at Halloween and Christmas," he said. "Now, I want to go to the next level and add trains. So I thought I'd get some layout ideas. But the primary reason we're here is for Noah."

Tom Huggins of Chambersburg, Pa., said he has been coming to Railroad Heritage Days for the last several years.

"I worked for the railroad many, many years ago," he said. "I guess it's in my blood. I love anything that has to do with trains."

Accompanied by his son and two grandchildren, Huggins said he didn't know who was more excited about attending Saturday's event.

"It's a fun family activity," he said. "There's something here to make everybody happy."

If you go

What: Railroad Heritage Days

When: Today, 1 to 5 p.m.

Where: Hagerstown Roundhouse Museum, 300 S. Burhans Blvd., Hagerstown, and Hagerstown Railroad Museum, City Park, Hagerstown

Admission: $4 for adults and 50 cents for children 12 and younger.

For more information: Call 301-739-4665 or go to www.roundhouse.org

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