Trains And Model Railroading-Fun For Girls And Boys

art-1114-trainsNovember is National Model Railroad Month, so now is a great time to visit your local train museum. All 50 states have one or more train museums, many featuring full-size trains and complex model railways. A ride on a vintage train will delight young and old, and expansive model railways recreate history and illuminate daily life in different time periods.

Enthusiasm for trains can be developed by joining a model railroad club, reading stories and non-fiction books about trains, watching movies, setting up a toy railroad, building a model railway, going to train collector shows, and reading train magazines. Kids will learn about history, geography, STEM (science, technology, engineering, math), and so much more.

Pursuing a hobby offers kids the opportunity to excel at something unique and enjoyable without the pressures of school, can lead to a lifetime of learning, and may even influence career choices later on. Children learn to plan, organize, set goals, follow directions, make decisions, and problem solve – and  relax, explore and build self-confidence.

Trains and railroads played a major part in shaping our country starting in the 1800s. In 1869 the first transcontinental freight train left from San Francisco and traveled to the East Coast. People could ride by train from California to New York in a week. There is so much to learn about trains! From horse-driven to wood, coal, steam, electric and computer-driven engines, railroading is a fascinating subject.

Train Trivia

  1. Trains are more environmentally friendly when compared to many other forms of travel.
  2. The actual contact area between the steel train wheels and the steel track is about the size of a dime, thus there is very little resistance, making trains an efficient way to transport heavy goods.
  3. Freight trains carry 40% of the world’s cargo.
  4. The Seikan Tunnel in Japan is the longest train tunnel in the world. It is 33.46 miles in length.
  5. The French TGV bullet train holds the speed record of 357 mph. It braked for 9 miles before coming to a stop.

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Model Trains to Visit

The Mt. Shasta Sisson Museum, located at 1 N Old Stage Rd., houses a self-operating model train display flanked by a mural of Black Butte and Mt. Shasta. The 9’ by 13’ HO layout, constructed by members of the Siskiyou Model Railroad Club, is a condensed rendition of the Union Pacific Shasta Line from Dunsmuir to Black Butte. Next to the layout is a scale model of the Dunsmuir Depot roundhouse and turntable, and a painting above the display depicts the Tunnel 13 turntable located in the Siskiyou Mountains. Visit the museum to view the train and take in some history. Hours of operation change seasonally; for information visit the museum’s website or call (530) 926-5508.

The Dunsmuir Model Railroad Club hosts a train display in the historic railroad town of Dunsmuir. In winter months it can be viewed on Tuesdays from 4:30-6pm, and there’s a train library too. “Lots of kids come with their parents to operate the trains, and they learn a lot in the process,” says club member Bruce Petty. The viewing room is located in the downstairs area of the Dunsmuir Fire Hall on Dunsmuir Avenue; find the entrance to the train display around the corner on Cedar St. For information call Bruce at (530) 235-2133.

The Siskiyou Model Railroad Club is always looking for new members to catch the railroading bug! For more information about the club contact Tom Brass at (530) 842-4921. [/sws_green_box]

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Non-fiction Train Books for Children

  • On A Train, by Robert M. Hamilton
  • Freight Trains In Action, by Adele D. Richardson
  • Trains, by Susan E. Goodman

Popular Children’s Train Books

  • The Little Engine That Could, by Watty Piper
  • Locomotive, by Brian Floca
  • Freight Train, by Donald Crews
  • The Polar Express, by Chris Van Allsburg
  • The Little Red Caboose, by Marian Potter
  • Thomas The Tank Engine Story Collection, by Rev. W. Awdry

Model Railroad Books

  • The Wonderful World of Model Trains: A Beginner’s Guide To Building Your Own Model Railways and Creating Stunning Sceneries & Layouts, by David B. Brokar
  • Building A Model Railroad Step By Step, by David Popp
  • Realistic Model Railroad Design: Your Step-By-Step Guide To Creating A Unique Operating Layout, by Tony Koester Model

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Sarah Yale
About Sarah Yale

Writer Sarah Yale is the mother of two 4-H members. She and her family all have a great time at 4-H activities. She says, "We've met the nicest people, and have made wonderful, lasting friendships with kids and parents."

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