This holiday, get on board this tour of train gardens – Greater Greater Washington

Local children are even more fascinated as they watch BCFD Engine 45 firefighters respond to calls. Image by Payton Chung licensed under Creative Commons.

For more than a century, between fires, cat rescues and chili meals, firefighters in the Baltimore area seemingly spent their winter downtime laying out elaborate model train sets. Stop by dozens of Maryland fire stations this month. Alongside big red trucks, there’s a little toy train that zips through gentle snowdrifts, runs over impossibly long bridges, and under twinkling little flying reindeer, too attractive for zoning. We pass through quaint cityscapes… always punctuated by firefighters bravely fighting a smoky conflagration.

The original connection between firefighting and model railroads seems lost to history, but the Maryland Fire Museum (where the December Railroad Garden is located) suggests a connection. Many of the early Baltimore firefighters were immigrants from Germany or their descendants, and Christmas decorations included a toy village. — and then — toy trains.

The firefighters’ efforts are complemented by numerous model railroad exhibits each December at railroad museums, aviation museums, old train depots, arboretums, gardeners, shopping malls and suburban backyards. . That means there are dozens of model railroad exhibits from the Allegheny Mountains to the East Coast, enough to exhaust even the most dedicated model railroad enthusiast.

A comprehensive list of train gardens in and around Maryland is maintained by “Grandpa” of the Washington-Virginia-Maryland Garden Railroad Association. GGWash contributor Stephen Repetski freely plotted the 2022 entry on his Google Maps. This is great for planning road trips.

Some highlights are:

engine company 45is on the north side of Baltimore City and has welcomed visitors to Train Gardens for 67 years. This is unusual as it is located in the main fire station and is only separated from the other trucks and firemen’s poles by a curtain. Look for the scale model of the National Aquarium and the multi-alarm flames inside the tenement block. (Baltimore City Engine 41 also has a train garden.)

An elaborate fire scene for Engine 45. Video by Stephen Repetski. Click here for in-depth coverage of WJZ’s garden scene.

Ellicott City Fire Department 2 There is a dizzying train yard adjacent to the main fire station. A child-height area populated by numerous cartoon characters lies beneath multiple hilltop villages with stunning levels of mixed-use, multi-story density.

A car-free village with an enviable floor area ratio. Photo by Peyton Chan.

A rare model railroad layout that reproduces an American townscape. Photo by Peyton Chan.

Arbutus Volunteer Fire Department has been exhibiting Train Garden in its multifunctional room for nearly 30 years. Its train layout is in multiple scales, including a Lego model train. As a bonus, the station faces Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor.

Arbutus Lego Town. Photo by Peyton Chan.

of Wise Avenue Volunteer Fire Company Dundalk operates the 100-year-old Train Garden. It boasts an impressive array of animated features such as swing bridges, highways and cargo terminals. The nearby Dundalk-Patapsko Neck Historical Society has a Holiday Train Garden in the town’s World War I-era planned downtown.

Moving swing bridge, night view, freight terminal. Photo by Peyton Chan.

Thumbnail: Little Train and Big Red Truck: A Christmas Story by Payton Chung licensed under Creative Commons.

As a resident of the Southwest Urban Renewal Area, Payton Chung (LEED AP ND, CNUa) sees the possibilities and dangers of planning every day. He first addressed city council on growing smart in his 1996, accidentally created Chicago’s comprehensive housing law, and blogged in the Northwest. He is currently the Treasurer of GGWash’s Board of Directors.

Stephen Repetski is a native of Virginia and has lived in the Fairfax area for over 20 years. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Applied Networking and Systems Administration from Rochester Institute of Technology and works in the information technology field. Learning, discussing and analyzing transit (especially planes and trains) is a hobby he enjoys.

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