Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

November 29, 2013

All aboard!

Pendleton train display returns for another Christmas season

BY JOE OLENICK joe.olenick@lockportjournal.com
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Firemen climb a ladder to put out a fire by squirting real water from a hose, as smoke comes out of the tiny home. Nearby, a helpless one-inch tall maiden nearly falls to the railroad tracks, until the last second when a Canadian Mountie steps in to rescue her.

A windmill turns, as the water goes into a pond, while not far away a pair of cars pull into Mel’s, a drive-in restaurant. Kids play on a playground while a pair of guys saw through a tree.

Such is the miniature world of the Pendleton Historical Society’s Model Train Display.

The annual display, returning for its 17th year, has grown a lot, said Marty Gilbert, the society’s president and whose family sets up the entire display with his son, Rob, and daughter-in-law Angie Gilbert.

”We enjoy putting it on,” Gilbert said. “We keep adding and it keeps getting bigger.”

The display consists of over 1,000 feet of tracks, 20 to 24 different trains and a host of different miniature displays that come to life as those trains roar past them.

Taking up an entire room in the historical society’s building on Campbell Boulevard, the display runs today from 5 until 9 p.m. and continues 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The trains run again over the next two weekends, from 5 until 9 p.m. Fridays, then 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

Admission is $3 for adults and $2 for children, while kids under 5 are free. The display is a fundraiser for the historical society.

The display is just the main attraction. There’s a smaller display of Thomas the Tank Engine trains, which Gilbert said are popular with young children. Many antique trains can be viewed in display cases, including the oldest train in Marty’s collection, which is from 1924.

Also, the Pendleton Historical Society will hold a cookie sale at 10 a.m. Dec. 7. Santa Claus will be stopping by each Saturday and Sunday from 1 until to 3 p.m.

What Gilbert enjoys the most about the display is watching the kids enjoying the trains. There’s a variety of trains, including a limited edition Coors Light train, modeled after the train that appears in the popular beer brand’s commercials. Gilbert loves to tinker with the display, making sure it’s always different each year.

And, if watching the trains and the animated displays wasn’t enough, try to find all of the cows, Gilbert challenges. Last year, it was hippos that were spread throughout the two-tier display.

The two dozen or so trains on display is just a fraction of the number of trains Gilbert and family have. He estimated his collection is well over 100 and the number of tracks almost endless.

It’s a passion of Gilbert’s, as he’s been collecting trains since receiving his first as a 5-year-old boy in 1938. Having an interest in trains can help a person learn math, engineering and how electricity works, as well as develop some problem-solving skills.

”You learn a lot,” Gilbert said.

PENDLETON TRAIN DISPLAY • WHERE: 6570 Campbell Blvd., Pendleton Historical Society (next to the blue water tower) • WHEN: Starts today from 5 until 9 p.m. and continues 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, then continues the next two weekends at the same times • COST: Admission is $3 for adults and $2 for children, kids under 5 are free

Contact reporter Joe Olenick at 439-9222, ext. 6241 or follow him on Twitter @joeolenick.