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All Aboard! Annual Model Railroad Show at the Science Museum is Great for All Ages


The annual Model Railroad Show at the Science Museum of Virginia has been a crowd pleaser in our house for many years. On Thanksgiving weekend, guests can enjoy model train displays from across the state.

smv railroad 2The overall size of train displays is impressive in and of itself. As we entered, my 10-year-old exclaimed, “Wow, it is all about trains, trains, trains!” Model trains are in action throughout the rotunda and adjacent rooms. Trains are chugging through towns complete with realistic houses, corner stores, hardware stores and lumber yards, moving across mountains and over streams. Steam is puffing out of many of the trains. I learned that the steam is made from a volatile oil with a low boiling point, and then the heating element vaporizes it. Who knew? And for extra eager would-be conductors, you might even have the chance to be put to work or sound the train whistle.

The best thing about the railroad show is that it truly is interesting for youngsters through adults. I even saw multiple generations decked out in conductors’ hats.

There is fascinating information to learn – or you can just take it all in and let yourself be mesmerized by the clickety-clack of the trains moving over the track.

River City 3 Railers has the largest track in the Science Museum rotunda – impressive at almost one mile in scale. Their spokesman says that with ten people, it takes four hours to set up the tracks – and two hours to break it down. Adjustments are constantly made, tracks are cleaned, and some repair work is done on the spot. I looked on as Doug McBee of RF & P Railroad, expertly worked to assemble a trestle. He painstakingly measured and cut tiny pieces of thin wood with a cutting board, then glued the pieces together with glue in a very small glue medicine dropper. “It’s not very difficult,” McBee says, “but very time consuming and tedious.” It is evident that the hard work has paid off as guests are captivated by the intricate railways.

After you have had your fill of trains, there are also special demonstrations in the Science Museum and special showings in The Dome.

Visit Science Museum of Virginia for complete details.


This year, guests will enjoy unique and traditional model train displays from across the state. Meet Clydesdales horses, watch a blacksmith in action and take a ride on the Teddy Bear Express. Learn how trains work, conduct experiments, check out special demonstrations and enjoy a holiday weekend filled with fun for the whole family.

Fiona Bessey-Bushnell is an occupational therapist and writer who lives in the West End. She enjoys exploring all the exciting places Richmond has to offer with her husband and two sons.

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