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Schenectady Museum's model train display is a crowd pleaser

The model trains at the Schenectady Museum always draw a crowd this time of year.

We just get thousands of people in to see the trains, said Carmel Patrick, the museum's director of development. "It's become a holiday tradition in the Capital Region."

That got the staff at the museum thinking. It'd be neat, they agreed, if there were some other train-related things at the museum to complement the model trains.

So Chris Hunter, the museum's director of archives and collections, pulled together an exhibit called "All Aboard! The Power of Locomotives," which looks at the history of the rail industry in the Capital District. Visitors can check out both the model trains and the exhibit this weekend, Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 26 and 27. The trains will also run the following week, during school break, as well as weekends through Jan. 17, and "All Aboard" will be set up through April.

There's more train fun on tap, too: School break week will feature a host of train-related activities, and the January Little Wonders of Science program has a train theme.

Volunteers from the Upstate Train Associates put together the O Gauge model trains in front of the main entrance to the Suits-Bueche Planetarium. It's a 19-by-27-foot display, or, as Patrick said, "It's huge."

The display features several smaller themed areas, such as an amusement park where Santa is riding a roller coaster and a pond where children are skating. Patrick said children also get a kick out of the trains that load and unload their cargo of barrels and lumber.

Younger children also like the nearby Thomas the Tank Engine display, which features a working Thomas the Train.

Patrick said the display draws people from counties throughout New York and even neighboring states. It's also a popular school program, with close to 10,000 students visiting the trains in the last academic year.

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