Pittsburgh – July 2018 – Miniature Railroad and Village

The Miniature Railroad and Village located at the Carnegie Science Center has origins dating back 100 years. In 1919 Charles Bowdish created a holiday train display in his home in the small town of Brookville, Pennsylvania.

In 1954 it was moved to Buhl Planetarium where it resided until that closed, and moved to it’s current located at the science center in 1992.

The display features life and times in Western Pennsylvania between the 1880s and 1930s.

2018 07 08 209 Pittsburgh Carnegie Science Center.jpg

 

 

IT’S GROUNDHOG DAY! The famed groundhog of Punxsutawney and his home on Gobblers Knob. Will it be an early spring?

2018 07 08 212 Pittsburgh Carnegie Science Center.jpg

 

 

A steel mill. This one is a replica of one in Sharon, PA. Amazingly there are numerous movements of cranes, lifts and other features throughout.

2018 07 08 215 Pittsburgh Carnegie Science Center.jpg

 

 

The lights of the ovens in the mill are illuminated.

2018 07 08 218 Pittsburgh Carnegie Science Center.jpg

 

 

The roundhouse supports the trains that are running throughout the exhibit.

2018 07 08 219 Pittsburgh Carnegie Science Center.jpg

 

 

Everything in the 83′ x 30′ display is hand made by the volunteers and staff. It is based on the ‘O’ scale, 1/4 inch = 1 foot.

2018 07 08 230 Pittsburgh Carnegie Science Center.jpg

 

 

My personal favorite is Forbes Field, the baseball stadium from 1909-1970. Each ‘person’ is a painted Q tip.

The detail even includes a runner going head first into second base.

2018 07 08 232 Pittsburgh Carnegie Science Center.jpg

 

 

The model features hundreds of actual Western Pennsylvania buildings, but not in any geographic detail. While Forbes Field is exact, there was no train running by the stadium – it was sitting in the middle of a neighborhood.

2018 07 08 233 Pittsburgh Carnegie Science Center.jpg

 

 

For locals they can spend hours searching out the places they knew or grew up near.

2018 07 08 236 Pittsburgh Carnegie Science Center.jpg

 

 

The day we were there a very nice young lady named Nicole offered to show us the back room where they make all of the buildings and accessories.

2018 07 08 245 Pittsburgh Carnegie Science Center.jpg

 

 

They have many completed buildings, just not enough room to display them. As noted previously everything is hand made – no kits here.

2018 07 08 238 Pittsburgh Carnegie Science Center.jpg

 

 

Some spare rail cars.

2018 07 08 241 Pittsburgh Carnegie Science Center.jpg

 

 

The hilly terrain of Western PA is well represented.

2018 07 08 246 Pittsburgh Carnegie Science Center.jpg

 

 

A streetcar that became a diner.

2018 07 08 247 Pittsburgh Carnegie Science Center.jpg

 

 

Rodgers Field, located near Oakmont, was Pittsburgh first municipal airport. It operated from 1925-1935.

2018 07 08 252 Pittsburgh Carnegie Science Center.jpg

 

 

The famed Frank Lloyd Wright home Fallingwater. Fortunately the real one does not overlook a steel mill.

2018 07 08 254 Pittsburgh Carnegie Science Center.jpg

 

 

A small ‘patch town’ – coal mine town.

2018 07 08 256 Pittsburgh Carnegie Science Center.jpg

 

 

The roller coaster at Luna Park. Opened in the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh in 1905, it was only around for a few years before closing.

2018 07 08 258 Pittsburgh Carnegie Science Center.jpg

 

The trees and bushes are made from hydrangeas that are collected and dried. From there each one is hand made using a twisted copper wire for the trunk and limbs. Their goal is that no two trees are exactly alike.

After gluing they paint the tree for the 3 primary seasons, summer, fall and winter. Each tree can take up to 1 day to make, and there are hundreds of thousands of trees on display.

There are larger model train displays around, but this one is well worth the visit.

2018 07 08 261 Pittsburgh Carnegie Science Center.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flemington, NJ – June 2018 – Northlandz Model Railroad Display

As you drive along US Route 202 near Flemington in western New Jersey you will come upon a building alongside the road that at first glance appears to possibly be vacant. Set behind a small parking lot, and on this summer day somewhat overgrown by weeds is a 50,000 square foot gray building.

When you stop and walk inside you see a small snack bar and gift shop, and the appearances of something past it’s prime. However as you pay your entry fee and head in you are in for an amazing experience.

For it is here in Flemington, New Jersey that you find what is one of the world’s largest model train display.

2018 06 01 304 Flemington NJ Northlandz.jpg

 

 

 

What started as a hobby in the basement of Bruce Zaccagnino in the early 1970s eventually developed into something much larger.

2018 06 01 325 Flemington NJ Northlandz.jpg

 

 

 

Bruce was a musician and computer game designer but whose passion was model railroading.

2018 06 01 332 Flemington NJ Northlandz.jpg

 

 

 

The display has over 400 bridges …

2018 06 01 341 Flemington NJ Northlandz.jpg

 

 

 

Eight miles of track ….

2018 06 01 347 Flemington NJ Northlandz.jpg

 

 

 

They also have some static displays including this train wreck – note the passangers hanging onto the side of the car.

2018 06 01 349 Flemington NJ Northlandz.jpg

 

 

 

Some of the displays appear to be 15′ high.

2018 06 01 352 Flemington NJ Northlandz.jpg

 

 

 

The rail yard.

2018 06 01 367 Flemington NJ Northlandz.jpg

 

 

 

Another of the 400 bridges across a deep ravine.

2018 06 01 375 Flemington NJ Northlandz.jpg

 

 

 

The detail is great – this is a tower in the amusement park.

2018 06 01 386 Flemington NJ Northlandz.jpg

 

 

 

Another massive bridge with a monastery on top of the mountain.

2018 06 01 387 Flemington NJ Northlandz.jpg

 

 

 

More ravines and bridges.

2018 06 01 397 Flemington NJ Northlandz.jpg

 

 

 

There were a few trains running but with the size it became a game to listen for the trains to come across the features.

2018 06 01 410 Flemington NJ Northlandz.jpg

 

 

 

A model of the famed Firth of Forth bridge in Scotland.

2018 06 01 414 Flemington NJ Northlandz.jpg

 

 

 

Another view of the same bridge from below.

2018 06 01 427 Flemington NJ Northlandz.jpg

 

 

 

Putt putt course from hell.

2018 06 01 434 Flemington NJ Northlandz.jpg

 

 

 

The Golden Spike location in Utah.

2018 06 01 447 Flemington NJ Northlandz.jpg

 

 

 

The control room. Northlandz is an amazing place to see – don’t let the slightly worn look of the outside and lobby deter you – it is well worth the visit.

2018 06 01 440 Flemington NJ Northlandz.jpg

Bellevue, Ohio – May 2018 – Mad River and Nickel Plate Railway Museum

While I am a fan of all types of transportation, I am not a train fanatic like some. Still, even though we had recently been to a major train museum in Pennsylvania this Saturday brought up another opportunity to check out one closer to home – The Mad River and Nickel Plate Railway Museum in Bellevue, Ohio.

The drive up to Bellevue paralleled a major rail line, and a stop in the town of Bucyrus to check out their historic station was interrupted as we waited out a 150 car freight trian.

2018 05 19 6 Bucyrus OH.jpg

 

 

 

Eventually we made it to Bellevue and the Mad River – Nickel Plate Railway Museum. The name requires some explanation – Mad River is flows for 70 miles across Ohio. It gained it’s name from the ‘mad rapids’ that occur along much of the river.

The New York, Chicago and St Louis Railway was founded in the 1880s, but was based in Cleveland. It was given the nickname Nickel Plate from a local newspaper who thought it’s financial prospects were ‘nickel plated’ – or very good.

 

 

2018 05 19 91 Bellevue OH Mad River & Nickel Plate Railroad Museum

 

 

The museum has an indoor area with a number of small artifacts including dinnerware and waiter uniforms.

2018 05 19 57 Bellevue OH Mad River & Nickel Plate Railroad Museum

 

 

One of their prized possessions is the bell from the Lincoln Funeral Train.

2018 05 19 60 Bellevue OH Mad River & Nickel Plate Railroad Museum

 

 

In addition to the rail rolling stock they have a couple of nicely restored trucks.

2018 05 19 75 Bellevue OH Mad River & Nickel Plate Railroad Museum.jpg

 

 

 

What sets this rail museum apart from the others is nearly all of the cars are open for inspection, including numerous cabooses.

2018 05 19 80 Bellevue OH Mad River & Nickel Plate Railroad Museum

 

 

 

Outdoors are many more rail cars – including numerous box cars that house even more artifacts. Below is a telegraph desk.

2018 05 19 104 Bellevue OH Mad River & Nickel Plate Railroad Museum

 

 

They also have a nice collection of tools – note the ‘track level’

2018 05 19 107 Bellevue OH Mad River & Nickel Plate Railroad Museum

 

 

 

Many of the cars are connected together to pass between them. All have been restored to original vibrant colors.

2018 05 19 113 Bellevue OH Mad River & Nickel Plate Railroad Museum

 

 

 

A small station was brought from a nearby town.

2018 05 19 115 Bellevue OH Mad River & Nickel Plate Railroad Museum

 

 

 

It too is restored to original condition.

2018 05 19 119 Bellevue OH Mad River & Nickel Plate Railroad Museum

 

 

The cars are fairly packed into their yard – but as the rain came this was welcome.

2018 05 19 182 Bellevue OH Mad River & Nickel Plate Railroad Museum.jpg

 

 

 

A manual brake on a car.

2018 05 19 125 Bellevue OH Mad River & Nickel Plate Railroad Museum

 

 

 

They also have a beautiful postal car.

2018 05 19 128 Bellevue OH Mad River & Nickel Plate Railroad Museum

 

 

 

As well as some switching lights.

2018 05 19 136 Bellevue OH Mad River & Nickel Plate Railroad Museum

 

 

 

A diesel locamotive.

2018 05 19 169 Bellevue OH Mad River & Nickel Plate Railroad Museum

 

 

 

The venting on the side gave it an aerodynamic feel.

2018 05 19 172 Bellevue OH Mad River & Nickel Plate Railroad Museum

 

 

Literally across the tracks was an area with a few more restored cars, as well as a couple un-restored ones next to some cool giant, empty concrete silos.

2018 05 19 196 Bellevue OH Mad River & Nickel Plate Railroad Museum

 

 

But alas we have reached the end of the road. This rail museum is well worth the visit, with their great collections in the rolling stock that allow you to actually go in and check them out.

Given that Bellevue is on multiple active rail lines the constant train whistles in the background made it even better. It was all very cool.

2018 05 19 205 Bellevue OH Mad River & Nickel Plate Railroad Museum

 

Strasburg, PA – May 2018 – Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania

The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania is located in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania near the small town of Strasburg. With over 100 locomotives and cars it is one of the larger rail museums in America. A trip to the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania is highly recommended for any rail or transportation fans.

 

2018 05 07 22 Strasburg PA Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania.jpg

 

 

The Rolling Stock Hall, designed like a large train shed is immaculately clean. From above the equipment almost look like model railroad cars.

2018 05 07 26 Strasburg PA Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania.jpg

 

 

 

The collection covers from the late 1800s until the 1950s.

2018 05 07 31 Strasburg PA Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania.jpg

 

 

 

The museum was built by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and continues today with support from a non profit group.

2018 05 07 33 Strasburg PA Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania.jpg

 

 

 

All of the equipment housed indoors has been restored to near original condition.

2018 05 07 35 Strasburg PA Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania.jpg

 

 

In addition to the rolling stock there are numerous other pieces, including benches from rail stations.

2018 05 07 43 Strasburg PA Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania.jpg

 

 

 

While much of the equipment came from the famed Pennsylvania Railroad, other railroads are represented as well.

2018 05 07 52 Strasburg PA Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania.jpg

 

 

 

But by far the largest collection is from the PRR.

2018 05 07 58 Strasburg PA Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania.jpg

 

 

Some of the cars are open for inspecting, such as this ‘training car’.

2018 05 07 78 Strasburg PA Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania.jpg

 

 

 

 

Another highlight is a full locomotive positioned over a maintenance pit that allows inspection underneath.

2018 05 07 98 Strasburg PA Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania.jpg

 

 

 

The museum has a replica of the John Bull, a locomotive built in 1831. The original is at the Smithsonian.

2018 05 07 127 Strasburg PA Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania.jpg

 

 

 

Nearby is the Red Caboose Motel – where you can spend the night in a caboose.

2018 05 07 149 Strasburg PA Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania.jpg

 

 

Kelowna, BC – September 2017 – Myra Valley Trestles

High above Kelowna, British Columbia is the Myra Valley Trestles, a former rail line that has become a ‘rails to trails’. What makes this one special is it runs across 18 trestles and two tunnels in the 11 kilometer route.

2017 09 07 86 Kelowna BC Myrna Canyon Tresle Trail.jpg

 

 

The trestles have had decking added for easier riding.

2017 09 07 92 Kelowna BC Myrna Canyon Tresle Trail.jpg

 

 

The trestles are marked with both a sequential number and the distance from Midway BC, reminding riders of their previous use.

2017 09 07 101 Kelowna BC Myrna Canyon Tresle Trail.jpg

 

 

The air was hazy from the numerous forest fires throughout BC. There were a couple very long, curved trestles made out of steel.

2017 09 07 111 Kelowna BC Myrna Canyon Tresle Trail.jpg

 

 

The tunnels were short enough you didn’t need lights to see.

2017 09 07 123 Kelowna BC Myrna Canyon Tresle Trail.jpg

 

The Myra Valley Trail is easily the best bike trail I have ever seen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pittsburgh – July 2017 – Carnegie Science Center

2017 07 01 140 Pittsburgh Carnegie Science Center.jpg

 

The Carnegie Science Center, like most science centers, is geared towards children, but with an excellent railway model of the highlights of Pittsburgh I wanted to check it out.

An added bonus was the Robot Hall of Fame, as well as a submarine docked on the banks of the Ohio River!

2017 07 01 74 Pittsburgh Carnegie Science Center.jpg

 

2017 07 01 79 Pittsburgh Carnegie Science Center.jpg

 

An interesting display showing the stress high heel shoes put on a woman’s ankle and foot.

2017 07 01 111 Pittsburgh Carnegie Science Center.jpg

 

Forbes Field

2017 07 01 126 Pittsburgh Carnegie Science Center.jpg

 

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater

2017 07 01 136 Pittsburgh Carnegie Science Center.jpg

 

Danger Will Robinson….

2017 07 01 148 Pittsburgh Carnegie Science Center.jpg

Washington, PA – June 2017 – Pennsylvania Trolley Museum

2017 06 30 34 Washington PA Pennsylvania Trolley Museum.jpg

 

The Pennsylvania Trolley Museum is about an hour south of downtown Pittsburgh, near the town of Washington, Pennsylvania. They are one of the oldest trolley museums in the country, having started in 1949 when the trolleys were still running. It is well worth a visit, one of the best streetcar museums I have seen, and we enjoyed our time there checking out the cars, with the bonus of going for rides.

One of their highlights is a New Orleans streetcar number 832. When New Orleans was disposing of some old streetcars to museums they ‘mistakenly’ allowed this car to go to Pennsylvania. It turned out this was the car used in the 1950s movie ‘Streetcar Named Desire’.

 

2017 06 30 3 Washington PA Pennsylvania Trolley Museum.jpg

 

The museum has a number of well kept ‘barns’, with numerous cars in each. The Fifth Avenue car was from the early 1900s when they were still horse drawn. The one below was used to take passengers through the week to work, and mourners to funerals on Saturdays.

2017 06 30 12 Washington PA Pennsylvania Trolley Museum.jpg

 

The West Penn Streetcar lines were represented.

2017 06 30 15 Washington PA Pennsylvania Trolley Museum.jpg

 

An interurban from Toledo.

2017 06 30 28 Washington PA Pennsylvania Trolley Museum.jpg

 

A newer PCC streetcar painted in the ‘PAT’ (Port Authority of Pittsburgh) colors.

2017 06 30 43 Washington PA Pennsylvania Trolley Museum.jpg