A minia­ture Mary­land

Baltimore Sun - - MARYLAND - Pho­tos and text by Kim Hairston

Asure sign that the hol­i­day sea­son is here is the open­ing of train gar­dens around the area. The tra­di­tion started in the late 1800s with Moravian im­mi­grants who would set up a Na­tiv­ity scene in their homes and changed over the years to a more sec­u­lar one, of­ten in fire­houses, fea­tur­ing build­ings, land­scapes and model trains.

The Fire Mu­seum of Mary­land has op­er­ated a train gar­den since 1986. Tom Colleran, a duty of­fi­cer who also leads tours of the mu­seum, says their type of dis­play is an “old-fash­ioned Baltimore gar­den that I re­mem­ber grow­ing up.”

Six sets of O-Gauge Lionel trains will run through a town that oc­cu­pies a 10-by-27-foot area. This year there will be a new sec­tion of the gar­den where visi­tors can watch a fire­boat work­ing to put out a fire at the Spar­rows Point Ship­yard. Many lo­cal busi­nesses and land­marks are rep­re­sented in the model rail­road dis­play, which opens a week from to­day. The Palace Theatre — now the Ev­ery­man Theatre — is lo­cated on a busy street in the train gar­den.

John Palese, a vol­un­teer at the Fire Mu­seum of Mary­land’s train gar­den, where lo­cal land­marks are rep­re­sented, works to ready the dis­play.

A train crosses the eight arches of a model of the Thomas Viaduct, "the world’s old­est mul­ti­ple­stone-arched rail­road bridge" as listed on Mary­land’s Na­tional Reg­is­ter Prop­er­ties.

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