Model guests: Mini-rails on display at museum

Photo by Tori Boone

Photo by Tori Boone

DULUTH -- Max Rubenstein stood on the conductor's chair and waved bye to his mom.

The 2-year-old made choo-choo sounds, as he pretended to drive a giant locomotive at the Southeastern Railway Museum in Duluth.

But kids weren't just using their imaginations to drive trains Saturday. At the museum's annual Model Train Days, kids got to be the engineers for sets of tiny trains.

"He loves trains," Dot Richard said, as her 5-year-old grandson Johnathan played with one of the controls at the hands-on exhibit.

Last weekend, Richard drove Johnathan to Cordele to visit "Thomas the Tank Engine," and she said she was glad he was able to enjoy trains again so close to her Norcross home.

Foster Currie, 3, made up a story as his model engine chugged along.

"It has to stop now. ... He's run out of steam," Foster said.

Later, as two of the model trains passed along side each other, Foster said, "They are best friends."

In another part of the museum, volunteers with the Vines Garden Railroad operated train cars the size of loaves of bread through a knee-high village, complete with a cemetery and storefronts.

"We do it for the children more than anything else, and for us," volunteer Lawrence McFall said.

Bill Robertson added, "Most of the fun is when the kids walk up and their faces light up."

Model Train Days is part of the Piedmont Pilgrimage, where model railroad enthusiasts open up their homes to allow people to come by.

But the fun isn't just for the kids.

Max's great-grandfather, 88-year-old Irvin Dien grinned with excitement.

"I'm having more enjoyment than he because I'm old enough to understand," Dien said, as his wife remembered the time they took Max's father to see the Chattanooga Choo-Choo when he was a toddler. "There's so much to see here."

While the museum isn't typically open on Sundays, it is open today for the continuation of Model Train Days.

Visitors can enjoy the festivities at the museum, located at 3595 Buford Highway, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information about the Piedmont Pilgrimage, go to www.piedmont-div.org/pilgrimage.