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Smoky Junction Model Train Exhibit at the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center

This holiday season the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center is proud to announce the opening of their newest experience, Smoky Junction Model Train Exhibit. Running through the season, the exhibit is sure to be a delightful experience, because nothing says holiday enchantment quite like seeing little faces look on in wonderment as model trains zip by. With three different displays and a bit of history from the Townsend/Walland area, this exhibit will showcase different styles and scales of model trains and is sure to be a joy to the whole family, as well as train enthusiasts.

Opening November 9th, this exhibit, which will be open on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays at the Heritage Center, will bring back the fond memories of the holiday trains of our childhoods.

“The Maryville Model Railroad Club has been instrumental in helping us design and creating these displays,” said Logan Hull, Director of Special Events at the Heritage Center. “We hope that this experience becomes an annual holiday tradition for the families in our community and for folks of all ages. We hope that we can create memories that will last a lifetime for families and promote this unique hobby, all while sharing the great history of this region. This is the perfect way for the Heritage Center to promote the history of our region in a fun and engaging way while giving our guests an experience like none other!”

The three differently scaled displays have all been created by the members of the Maryville Model Railroad Club. From the winter wonderland/holiday layout to a large “G” scaled display, the members of this club have created intricate details, and their passion for their hobby comes through in their work.

“I was wiring trains before I could do multiplications!” said Allan Gartner, a member of the club.

There seems to be a special joy in taking things apart to figure out how they work and then putting them back together. The operation of these trains is not as easy as it may appear. Many hours go into programming each one of the locomotives, and each one is different.

In one of the detailed displays, the unique history of the region plays the starring role. A replica of the communities of Townsend and Walland have been modeled and even include the famous covered bridge and the tannery in Walland. Without the railroad’s influence, these communities would be completely different. The city of Townsend got its start from The Little River Lumber Company, which started hauling lumber out of what is now the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the early 1900s. This lumber and the various products related to logging were vital to the community and surrounding area and were shipped across the country to places like Chicago and many other major cities. After the founding of the National Park, it was the Citizen Conservation Corps (CCC) who was able to utilize these now unused railroad beds and turn them into the hiking trails we know and love throughout the Smokies.

Dennis Cherry, one of the members of the MMRC, has been working and playing with model trains for 65 years. The display he has been working on will be the largest by far, with the trains measuring in feet rather than inches.

“We all have the scales that we like to work on,” said Dennis. “Garden scale, the big ones, are my specialty and all the wiring that goes with it.”

A different scale known as “O” will capture the holiday spirit with its snowcapped hills and scenery. A special holiday train will disappear through tunnels and race across trestles in a North Pole themed display. Having an eye for detail, Don Clark, another member of the MMRC, has diligently worked to create this display and hopes to share his love of model trains with all ages.

A special “Boarding Pass” will be included in the admission price to the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center ($8 for adults and $6 for children and seniors) on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from November 9th through January 6th. It can also be purchased separately for only $4 for ages 6 and up. This experience is free to the members of the Heritage Center. The exhibit will be open on Fridays and Saturdays from 10 am to 5 pm and on Sundays from noon to 5 pm. Each day the trains are running a knowledgeable member of the MMRC will be on-site to answer any questions and to show how they run the trains.

Smoky Junction Model Train Exhibit has been made possible by funding from Blount Partnership, East Tennessee Foundation, and donations from Richardson Construction. For more information, call the Heritage Center at 865-776-4388 or visit www.gsmheritagecenter.org.

Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center
865.776.4388
www.gsmheritagecenter.org

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