by Mary Jo
There is something very charming about miniatures–ask any doll collector. The beautiful Cotswold village of Bourton-on-the-Water is famous for having a detailed model of the village itself–and there is even a model within the model. <G>
And in the Baltimore area, we have Christmas train gardens! The idea was new to me when I moved to Maryland, but train garden charm is irresistible. They were often in firehouses, where the firefighters used time between calls to do the painstaking work of setting up elaborate landscapes of town and country and multiple trains.
A small mall near me, the Shops at Kenilworth, turns off the fountain in the middle of the structure so that a wonderfully elaborate train garden can be built. (Image above.) Each year it changes, and local sites may be included. This year's display had a whole section devoted to waterfront activities such as the port of Baltimore, one of the largest ports on the East Coast. Note the coal barge moored by the coal depot.
Some of the businesses in the mall help sponsor the project, which is huge and time consuming. The train garden is also really good for business: in the weeks it's open, the large display is surrounded by children of all ages and older men reminisce about the family trains of their youth. Such fun for all! To the left is a baseball game, probably the Orioles.
A whole gingerbread village was added this year, and picture of one part of it is below the football game.
And everywhere there are trains–at least half a dozen different tracks with trains of different styles and configurations whizzing on their way.
Does your community have anything like this? I've heard that Pittsburgh, an industrial city somewhat similar to Baltimore, also has train gardens, but when I googled, all the hits were in Maryland. And justly so, since Baltimore is the cradle of the American railroad industry, and has a terrific railroad museum to prove it.
What fun, unique things does your community do to celebrate the holidays? The world may be drawing closer in many ways, but every community has its own characteristics and history–and sometimes, train gardens. <G>