PLYMOUTH — A special running of the 8-by-40 model train set housed at the Marshall County Museum Wednesday attracted more than 200 visitors, according to Museum Director Linda Rippy.
Within the first 15 minutes the display was opened, there had already been 50 visitors.
Rippy said the display can only be opened when there are enough volunteers.
Acting as the official engineer for the two-hour attraction was 15-year-old Jack Garrison. Garrison is a sophomore at Plymouth High School. Donned in his striped railroad engineer’s hat, Garrison said he was happy to help since he has a passion for model train sets as well as all trains.
“I grew up in the Chicago area where my father, Bob Garrison, took me to the Metro Station often,” he said. “When I would visit my grandparents, Chris and Jim Causey, in Plymouth, they would take me to Ed Langfeldt’s train store.”
When Garrison was asked by Langfeldt to help with the train project at the museum, he couldn’t have been more thrilled.
Also volunteering for the attraction Wednesday was Dick Millikan.
“I rode a lot of trains as a kid,” Millikan said. He indicated he looks forward to volunteering in the future when the display will be running each Saturday starting Jan. 8 from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m.
Rippy is most excited about the opportunities to teach area children about the history of the railroads, especially those that were in Marshall County.
She said, “Langfeldt started talking to us about donating the train set about two years ago as we were planning Phase I of our expansion.”
Rippy explained the museum set aside an entire room for the display including posters showing the progress of trains over the years, former locations of depots and their importance to the community and several articles that were originally used on real trains. It took nearly a year and some eight volunteers to get the train display in place that includes interactive components.
Rippy said the local Kiwanis Club donated $500 to help with the purchase of an N Scale Model Train set to add to the room. The new project is still a work in progress, according to Rippy.
At this time, Rippy is expanding her efforts in working with local schools for tours. She said that the museum is concentrating on incorporating the state education standards into the project that readily lends itself to social studies and history classes.
Enhancing the room are 10-foot high graphics of railroad scenes covering the windows. Rippy credits the window displays to Graphics Unlimited of Bremen that made them using only postcard size pictures to enlarge.
The museum is located at 123 N. Michigan St., Plymouth. For more information on the train project or other museum offerings, call 574-936-2306.