GO Arts: Model trains are back at Washington State History Museum

Tacoma News TribuneDecember 18, 2013 

The Model Train Festival opens this weekend at the Washington State History Museum.

CHRISTOPHER NELSON — Courtesy photo

They’re back – the miles of tiny tracks and scores of tiny trains at the annual Model Train Festival at the Washington State History Museum. Beginning Saturday, all floors of the museum will host one of the state’s largest such festivals, including the largest permanent model train layout, together with a visit from Santa this weekend.

Volunteer hobbyists spend many days putting together the elaborate displays and scenes of woods, mountains, logging towns and Washington cities. Participating clubs include the Boeing Employees Model Railroad Club, 4D PNR NTRAK, Kitsap Live Steamers, Cannonball Express, Pierce County Lionel Club, Mount Rainier N-Scale and Puget Sound Model Railroad Engineers. The exhibit will also include “Mary’s Big Circus”  featuring Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends, and Operation Lifesaver, a program dedicated to improving safety at highway-rail grade crossings.

“Every year we have the unique opportunity to offer a beloved holiday exhibit that taps into the history and role of railroads in Washington state, as well as people’s love of model trains,” said Jennifer Kilmer, director of the Washington State Historical Society. “We found it’s exactly what many families and railroad enthusiasts are looking for over the winter break.”

Kilmer says the museum is expecting over 7,000 visitors to the popular exhibit.

This year, for a $2 fee, families can use their own cameras to take photos with Santa, and museum ‘elves’ will be on hand to help. They’ll also have iPads to take photos and email them to anyone without a device of their own.

Also new this year is the redesigned gift store, which will hold a grand opening through 8 p.m. tomorrow. Selling exhibit-specific items, the store will also host signings by history authors Iris Graville (12-1 p.m.) and Lorraine McConaghy (4-6 p.m.), as well as local food vendor Lynnae’s Gourmet Pickles (5-8 p.m.).

The Model Train Festival is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Dec. 21- Jan. 1 (closed Dec. 24 and 25). Santa will be there 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Dec. 21-23 ($2/photo). Admission $9.50 adults/$7 seniors, students and military/free for five and under. Washington State History Museum, 1911 Pacific Ave., Tacoma. 1-888-BE-THERE, washingtonhistory.org  

Rosemary Ponnekanti: 253-597-8568 rosemary.ponnekanti@thenewstribune.com

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