Last weekend, my husband and I drove out to the Pittsburgh suburb of Gibsonia to see the 4,000-square-foot Holiday Train Show at the Western Pennsylvania Model Railroad Museum. We’d never been to a model railroad museum before, but we were both pleased with our first experience. We would go again for the summer show or the holiday show next year.
The show this season depicts routes from Pittsburgh, PA to Cumberland, MD in the summer of 1952. I was a little bummed that it was a summer display since it’s marketed as the Holiday Train Show. I was hoping for snow and Christmas lights. But as soon as I put that disappointment aside, I was delighted.
The display begins in Pittsburgh’s own Station Square at the P&LERR station and you travel to Cumberland from there. All the trains and the incline that goes up Mount Washington actually move. Most of the trees, 300,000 in total, are handmade.
As we moved through the show, we couldn’t believe the level of detail in each piece of the display. Every tree, person, piece of track, train car, and town was lifelike. We could even see tables and chairs inside one of the train dining cars as it whizzed by.
Nearly 8 miles of electrical wire power the trains and lights in the display. The lights along the railroad tracks actually work and change when the trains go by to indicate direction, whether traffic would need to be stopped, etc.
The water outside of the coal company (below) is even the appropriate polluted color that it would be from run-off/waste from the coal works.
The trains cross bridges and go through tunnels as they make their way through small towns and the Allegheny Mountains. The creators of the display are all volunteers who are on hand to fix any glitches that might arise and to answer visitor questions. They are a happy and friendly bunch who love what they do at the museum. They have a wonderful sense of humor. For example, look for the outhouses. At least one is occupied and at least one has a line.
The house below even lights up with fake fire as it burns and the firefighters try to stop the blaze.
In addition to the intricate display that only the volunteers can operate, there is a children’s display downstairs that the kids can play with. This display features favorites like Thomas The Tank Engine and is decorated for the holidays.
The Holiday Train Show continues through January 17, 2016. Click here for hours. The Western Pennsylvania Model Railroad Museum is located at 5507 Lakeside Drive, Gibsonia, PA. Tickets for adults are $6 and children are $4.
The Western Pennsylvania Model Railroad Museum comped tickets for my husband and I in exchange for this review. All opinions are my own.