Visitors travel to fantasyland at 'Magic Train World'

December 26, 2011|By KATE S. ALEXANDER |
  • Lee Scott has more than 700 feet of train track set up in his Greencastle, Pa., basement, which was open to the public on Sunday.
By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer

GREENCASTLE, Pa. — Three years ago, artist, photographer and author Lee Scott began building a world, he said.

Nestled in his Greencastle, Pa. basement, his world was small, scaled to a fraction of actual size.

Extending in an L-shape, its surface was an expanse of rising, hand-crafted landscapes, waterfalls, rocks and lakes.

Miniature buildings, bridges and more than 400 vehicles — cars and trucks — peppered the display that was traversed by  model trains.

And when it was brought to life with numerous buttons and switches, the air bore a slight but pungent odor of a hot transformer punctuated by the rhythmic chug and whoosh of the circling trains.

Scott described his world as a private museum and has dubbed it “Magic Train World.”

Since this fall, he said he has opened Magic Train World to the public on weekends, and Christmas weekend was no exception.

A steady flow of 65 people came on Christmas Day to see Scott’s more than 500-square-foot scenic display of O-scale and S-scale trains, he said.

“It’s tremendous, really great,” said Wayne Warren of Greencastle. “He has done a lot of work here.”

Warren, a fellow model railroader who has a G-scale model train display built in his yard, came to experience Magic Train World with his wife, Norma Jean Warren.

Not many model railroads put as much detail into the scenery as was put into Magic Train World, Scott said.

Beginning near the entrance, the trains pass a winter scene with a Christmas town while Santa and his reindeer fly above. As each travels around its tracks, the trains pass through a subway station, over a replica of Hell Gate Bridge, through a summer scene with a city of high-rises, and past an amusement park.

Scott said his love of trains began when he was a child, but his current collection dates back about two decades.

With at least 60 engines and about 250 train cars, his layout runs four trains and has many others on display, he said.

“What I wanted to do with this layout was to be able to have tracks that were long enough to run long passenger trains like this one,” he said, gesturing to a train as it chugged by.

Acknowledging the fascination that trains hold for many children, he also built much lower to the ground a small display with a Thomas the Tank Engine train that runs around dinosaurs and a working volcano.

Additionally, he crafted a place where children can crawl under the display and stand in the middle to gain a unique view of the layout.

As for adults, men and women enjoy the layout differently, he said, citing his experiences while involved in model railroad clubs.

“What the ladies like is to see details,” he said. “They see people and make up stories of what’s happening in the towns ... Whereas the guys, if there are trains running, they’re pretty much happy.”

Scott said he tried to make the scenery on his display as varied and realistic as possible.

His attention to detail was well-received, as people paused to marvel at various elements, like the water of a lake or the weathered paint on a building, or to snap a picture.

In addition to the train display, the walls of Scott’s basement were lined with educational information for guests to view.

If you go ...
What: Magic Train World
Where: 594 Shannon Drive North, Greencastle, Pa., just off Colonial Drive.
When: Saturdays and Sundays in January, with the exception of New Year’s weekend, from 1 to 4 p.m.
Info: More information on the display, hours and directions are available at or by calling 717-597-3902 or emailing

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