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>> THE SCIENCE MUSEUM OF VIRGINIA EXPLORES THE EXCITING WORLD OF TRAINS THIS HOLIDAY SEASON!
Trains galore at the Science Museum of Virginia

 The Science Museum of Virginia gets serious with its train show this year. Are you onboard?
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Date published: 11/22/2012

BY COLLETTE CAPRARA

FOR THE FREE LANCE-STAR

Throughout generations, children have been enthralled by the sight of miniature trains at Christmastime, whether they were chugging through fantastic dioramas in the department store's toy section or around their family's Christmas tree.

The Science Museum of Virginia has faithfully kept that tradition alive for 35 years and will capture the imaginations of young and old as it unveils its annual model railroad show this weekend.

"This year, we are doing serious trains," said spokesperson Nancy Tait. She points out that the museum's offerings will include not only 20 creative, captivating layouts created by local model train enthusiasts and clubs, but also two IMAX® features that expand the locomotive theme.

The personalized model trains, in scale sizes including O, HO, N and S, will be traveling through charming village scenarios, rustic rural scenes and even the site of a carnival with its sparkling lights and amusement rides.

"There's a part of me--and I suspect many other people, too--that makes me imagine myself as a small person experiencing those little worlds," said Tait.

This weekend also presents guests with a rare, once-a-year opportunity to tour the Car ONE luxury train coach, with its four bedrooms, observation platform, dining area, lounge, galley and steward's quarters, which once served the RF&P president, executives, and visiting dignitaries. Visitors can also take self-guided tours of an RF&P kitchen car, engine, refrigeration and mail car, and caboose.

All the rail cars were actually used in the heyday of the railroad, when the building that currently houses the museum served as a much-traveled central station in the commonwealth's capital.

Throughout the season, the museum's IMAX® theater, with its 76-foot wrap-around screen, will feature two memorable train-related films.

"The Rocky Mountain Express" documents the creation of the Canadian Pacific Railway, which was completed in 1885 after the investment of years of engineering genius and the labor of tens of thousands of laborers who came from lands throughout the world to bring the nearly impossible project to fruition.

Combining fantastic aerial cinematography, breathtaking vistas of the West, archival images and maps, the film captures the challenge of constructing a unified rail passage across the continent--through deserted wilderness, hundreds of miles of bogs, and three mountain ranges that towered as high as 8,000 feet above sea level.

"The Polar Express," a heartwarming film that has become a Christmas classic, tells the story of a doubting young boy who finds himself swept up by a majestic train bound for the North Pole. In his journey, he experiences the rich reality that is available to those who have an open heart and willingness to believe.

The museum's presentation of the world of trains will include performances of "Songs of the Railroad," storytelling sessions of train tales, and a live demonstration by blacksmith Gerald Boggs, who will craft items from railroad spikes.

Collette Caprara is a local writer and artist.


What: 35th annual Model Train Show Where: The Science Museum of Virginia, 2500 W. Broad St., Richmond When: Model Train Show, Nov. 23-25. Cost: Adults: $11 exhibits only; $16 exhibits and IMAX®. Youth (4-12) and seniors (60 and older): $10, exhibits only; $15 exhibits and IMAX® Tickets and info: 804/864-1400; smv.org