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Dundalk Train Gardens

Train gardens are a popular tradition during the Christmas season.

 

In Dundalk, Christmas train gardens have a long history and remain very popular.

Thanks to the efforts of local fire departments and the historical society, you can hop aboard the tradition this holiday season all over the area while learning about the cultural heritage of the yuletide ride.

"We go to the Wise Avenue train garden every year," said Joyce Diamonte, a Dundalk mother. "It is so nice to have such a special Christmas tradition in Dundalk."

Enthusiasts of miniature train gardens explain how the custom came to Maryland, courtesy of German settlers, who valued the precision necessary to create the cheery intricate worlds and used the hobby as a diminutive distraction from the frigid, and sometimes dismal, life of war-torn Europe.

It is Maryland's Moravian descendants who brought with them the religious practice of placing nativity scenes under Christmas trees some 200 years ago.

As the state's population grew in size and diversity, it wasn't long before traditions mingled, offering the modern version of trains coursing through fields of Christmas evergreens or garden holiday stages set to the sound of "chuggah-chuggah" steam engines.

But you don't have to trace your lineage to either of these founders to appreciate the delicate beauty and subtle craftsmanship of the train garden  tradition.

Patch has gathered the information about where to find the local train gardens.

Wise Avenue Volunteers, Station No. 27; Wise Avenue, Dundalk, MD,  21222.

The volunteer firefighters from Station No. 27 have been hosting the train garden since 1981. The train garden will be open through Jan. 9. Weekday hours are from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday hours are from noon to 9 p.m. The train garden is closed Christmas Day. Admission is $1 and children under seven-years-old are free.

Dundalk-Patapsco Neck Historical Society; 4 Center Place, Dundalk, MD, 21222. 410-284-2331

The train garden at the historical society attracted more than 1,000 visitors this year, just on the night of the annual lighting of the historic Dundalk Shopping Center earlier this month. The four-level train garden is different every year, growing in size, complexity and the number of visitors-a scene barely contained inside the historical society's exhibition space. The train garden is open seven days a week from noon to 8 p.m. through Jan. 9. The train garden closes at 4 p.m. Christmas Eve and is closed Christmas Day.

Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum; 901 W. Pratt St., Baltimore, MD,  410-752-2490

Celebrate the holiday season at Baltimore's largest holiday display of toy and model train layouts, which rotate displays every weekend. There are also weekend train rides and photo opportunities with Santa through Dec. 19, and Frosty the Snowman through Jan. 2. THe museum is open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The museum will be closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and New Year's Day.

Buzz Beeler December 15, 2011 at 02:13 AM
It's funny, when I lived in an apartment I put one up for many years. When I bought a house, I couldn't find the room. The withdraw wasn't as bad as I thought it might be.
KIT December 15, 2011 at 05:18 AM
I remember going to the fire station on Wise Avenue back in 1959 to see the train garden they had set up there. It was amazing to see back then and for a while they stopped having it. Now every year since they started having it again they have added on to it making it a truly amazing work of art. Every little detail on it is so very beautifully done and I would strongly recommend taking the time to go and see it.
Juliana L'Heureux December 15, 2011 at 01:05 PM
Traditions help build community! I'm delighted to know the Dundalk train gardens are so popular, as we never missed walking up to Wise Avenue from Logan Village to see the train garden every year when it was so well done at the Fire Station. Some families, like my own, even built our own Christmas Tree gardens as a spin off tradition. Trains, after all, connect people with people. Merry Christmas.
Buzz Beeler December 15, 2011 at 01:14 PM
Kit, 1959, the good ole days. Back then my dad put up our garden in the basement on a large piece of ply wood covered in that green grass. I loved it.
Melissa Strasburg December 17, 2011 at 07:23 PM
My family loves going to the Train Gardens every year. Thank you for sharing with your readers.

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