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Train club celebrating with Christmas Open House

PARKERSBURG — American households are chock full of holiday traditions at Christmastime.

Most families can identify with the placement of decorations, singing of carols, trimming the Christmas tree, exchanging gifts, sharing the spirit of the season and celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.

Another such tradition is the operation of an electric train set around a Christmas tree. This practice began in the early 1900s with Lionel and other model trains and continues to this day with trains, both old and new, delighting onlookers, complemented by ceramic village pieces and accessories by Department 56, Lemax and others.

A modern version of operating trains in a holiday setting will take place on Dec. 7 and Dec. 14 at the Mid-Ohio Valley Model Railroad Club’s annual Christmas Open House. Model trains will be running in HO, O, N, S, G and Z scales in a festive, family-oriented atmosphere at the club facility, located in the rear basement of NOE Office Equipment at 610 Green St., near the CSX tracks in downtown Parkersburg.

Many a model railroader can trace the beginnings of their fancy for toy trains to a set received as a Christmas gift in days gone by. Stories abound of boys and girls awakening on Christmas morning to find the train set of their dreams circling the tree.

Many following Christmases served as opportunities to add track, scenery and railroad cars to the set-up. This scenario has played out for more than 100 years and has stood the test of time.

Many of the 68 members of the club will be running trains from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. as part of Parkersburg’s Winterfest activities on Dec. 7 and return on Dec. 14 from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Admission and parking are free and the club will be raffling an HO train set as a fundraiser. Donations will be accepted to help offset the cost of running the seven layouts.

Some renditions of The Polar Express will be running and MOVMRC member Doug Unsold will portray an old-time railroad conductor, similar to the character played by Tom Hanks in the movie of the same name.

Additionally, classic Lionel O gauge and A.C. Gilbert American Flyer S gauge trains will be running in a manner like these collectors’ items operated in the 1950s, but with modern touches The club will have steam and diesel locomotives running and will be showing off new additions to the HO and N scale layouts as well as the newest layout, a Norman Rockwell set-up in Z scale (the smallest of the model railroad scales).

The Mid-Ohio Valley Model Railroad Club was formed in 1981 and hosts open houses on six weekend days a year. The club also hosts a Fall Train Show at West Virginia University-Parkersburg each October. For further information, go to movmrc.org.

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