6 Of The Best Model Train Layouts In The US
By B. Murphy
Model railroading enthusiasts enjoy only one thing more then showing off their pride and joy: seeing other prototypes and displays that they can then go back home to compete with! Fortunately since showing off is inherent to all of us getting a chance to see some truly spectacular displays is not that hard, and in many cases involves only a short journey as there are literally hundreds of museums across the country that displays tens of thousands of locomotives, cars and scenes between them.
Most museums do charge a fee for admittance, but it normally is quite small (averaging $6) and proceeds typically go towards the maintenance and upkeep of the models and facilities. A few sites are run by private organizations while others are run by a state or municipality but they all have one thing in common: people who love trains and railroad modeling are involved! There is hardly a state in the United States that doesn't have at least one major museum or showcase for the Model Railroader and all are worth visiting, but some are worth making a trip to see even if you are only marginally interested. A partial list of some of the more famous destinations that are sure to thrill both enthusiast and family alike follow:
The San Diego Model Railroad Museum - Partially available 'online' the museum is a tax exempt non-profit educational entity that was incorporated in 1980 in affiliation with the San Diego Model Railroad Club; the La Mesa Model Railroad Club; and the San Diego Society of N-Scale. Over 27,000 sq. ft. of display space makes this the largest indoor display in the world with two of the largest layouts in HO and N scale in the world as well.
The Twin City Model Railroad Museum in St. Paul Minneapolis features model panoramas of the 1930's, 40's and 50's and has been operating since 1984.
South Florida Railway Museum This museum is designed primarily to educate the public about the history of railroads in southern Florida but includes several very nice layouts, including a large N scale and a Hon3 model.
Smokey Mountain Trains Located in Bryson City North Carolina this wonderful site houses many of the layouts once available from the Harmar Station museum in Marietta, OH and is a great vacation destination for the model train enthusiast.
The Museum of Science and Industry located in Chicago Illinois also has a wonderful Model Train exhibit called The Great Train Story which boasts as having a 3,500 sq. foot layout that shows the winding journey from Chicago to Seattle through the Midwest, the Rockies, and the Cascades.
The Clovis Depot Located in Clovis New Mexico in an old train station depot which has been rebuilt to its original condition this site was registered with the National Register of Historic Places in 1996.
So crank up that old locomotive and head out to one of these or any of the other hundreds of exciting museums dedicated to this wonderful hobby of ours. Full steam ahead - the past is waiting!
Looking for ideas for building a train table? You'll find lots of helpful tips at The Model Railroader. Visit http://www.themodelrailroader.com to get your free copy of my report "Model Train Design Secrets"