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Model train display has things to see, hear and even touch

November 26, 2007|By HEATHER KEELS

HAGERSTOWN - If you listen carefully in the Hagerstown Roundhouse Museum's model train village, beneath the chugging and clacking, the "oohs" and "ahhs" and the screeches of delight, you might hear the voices of the tiny conductors and engineers.

From shouts of "All aboard!" or "Check on the fuel line, will you?" to a passenger's request for a sandwich, the high-tech model trains on display at the museum's 18th "Trains of Christmas" exhibit offer as much detail for the ear as they do for the eye, said operator Blaine Snyder, 74, of Cearfoss.

Once, after Snyder and the other operators stopped the trains for the night and turned out the lights, just as they closed the door, a tiny voice called out, "See you next shift!"

The feature, called "cab chatter," is just one of the many ways model trains have changed over the years, Snyder said. Each year, the O-scale village he calls "Christmas Town" grows bigger and fancier as designers add new pieces.

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This year, there are several new buildings, including a mill with a working water wheel, Snyder said. Also new this year is a King Kong figurine clinging to a tall building as a tiny plane flies nearby.

"Design-wise, this is a fantasy land," Snyder said. "There are no constraints on us. Our minds run just as fast as they can go."

Sunday, it captivated 3-year-old Adrianna Scarzella of Frederick, Md., who walked back and forth, taking in the trains, the moving ski lifts, the tiny skiers and the lights of the tiny houses.

"It's great that you can grab the attention of a 3-year-old, and a hyperactive one, at that," said her mom, Amy Scarzella.

Campbell Doty, 2, called out, "Hi train! Bye train!" as the engines circled the track, but couldn't seem to keep his hands out of the fake snow, said his mom, Amy Doty, of Hagerstown. Upstairs, she was delighted to find a hands-on train set.

"It's nice to have trains you can see and trains you can touch," she said.

"Trains of Christmas" is open from 1 to 5 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Jan. 27.

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