Local landmarks are depicted within the HO-scale display’s more than 6,500 feet of track, 300 locomotives and over 2,000 cars. Look for the P&LE train station (now Station Square), the J&L Steel Mill and Fallingwater. Club members add more details of street scenes and built-from-scratch buildings every year.
A handout offers a fun scavenger hunt for kids to search from a list of items, like a garage under construction, servicemen waiting for a train and a woman on a bicycle.
Little engineers will love the interactive displays with wooden trains and pushing the switch that sends Thomas the Tank racing on an HO track. The Toy Train display is fun, too, where two levels include an alien crash site, a dinosaur zone, and a drive-in theater.
On Friday nights, the exhibit rolls back to 1949 to visit the “Twilight of Steam,” when all the steam locomotives run.
The museum’s season runs through Jan. 13, followed by classes for those caught up in model railroading excitement.
4. Ohio Valley Line
Philanthropy is part of the mission of Ohio Valley Lines in Ambridge. The club train enthusiasts extend their excitement for model railroads with a Trains for Tots program, which promotes the hobby in the next generation.
Members collect and repair trains for donation. Each starter set includes a transformer, terminal track, engine, caboose, and four cars. Three sets are given away at random every day during the holiday display open house. Train donations also are made to organizations like The Salvation Army, the Moose Club “Heart to Heart Club,” and the Marines Toys for Tots program.
Ohio Valley Lines is a combination model railroad display, museum, and library. The train layout includes an HO-scale and N-scale track and trains available to view on weekends from Nov. 24 to Jan. 6.
5. McKeesport Model Railroad Club
The 68-year-old McKeesport Model Railroad Club holds an annual open house for model train enthusiasts to view its 2,200-square-foot train display throughout the holidays. This year, the open house runs Fridays through Sundays from Dec. 7-30.
The club’s fictitious Mon Yough Valley Railroad is set in the era between 1950 and 1960. The settings of HO-scale trains, people and buildings range from city scenes to mountain bridges and rural life. Look for a man shining shoes, kids playing at a picnic and a Clark Bar billboard among the tiny features.
6. Pennsylvania Trolley Museum
The Lionel train exhibit at the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum is more of a fanciful village dressed for the holidays than any particular era. The Victorian buildings could double for the town of Bedford in “It’s a Wonderful Life” – except for the golden arches of a McDonald’s!
Kids can combine the train exhibit with a ride on the Santa Trolley and a visit with the big guy himself. The restored and decorated streetcar travels along a 2-mile track.
Other activities during “Trolleys and Toy Trains” include making a holiday craft, free hot chocolate and cookies, plus a look at the fanciful LEGO layout built by Steel City Lug members. And the collection of nearly 50 trolley cars is worth browsing through.