Remember your first toy train? Of course you do! It probably took up half of your living room and you couldn’t stop playing with it for days. Now imagine having one of these sets just for yourself.
This model railroad got its name from the two locations it occupied throughout its history—it was first set up in Garfield Park Fieldhouse and then moved to Clarendon Park, where it stands today in the Clarendon Park Community Center. Since its foundation in 1947, the layout was expanded several times and today features around 450 meters of meticulously handmade miniature railroad tracks. They are complemented by fantastic scenery, which includes three intricately constructed bridges and urban and rural settings. The track is completely digitally controlled and the train takes an entire 25 minutes to complete the round trip.
This mammoth model railroad is more than just an exhibit, it’s the life work of a toy train enthusiast named Laurence Geiringer, who developed his interest in the matter around the turn of the 20th century. As his collection grew, he moved it several times, until 1953, when it reached the place it occupies today in Shartlesville, Pennsylvania. Gieringer passed away in 1963, but his collection is still kept in the condition he left it in. This includes around 750 square meters of surface, 6500 meters of wiring, 4000 miniature people, spectacular landscapes, a waterfall that actually works, 18 different trains, and even a mini Statue of Liberty.
Officially the world’s largest model train set, the Miniatur Wunderland in the center of Hamburg is a sightseeing hub attracting tourists from all over the world. As if 15,000 meters and 900 trains weren’t impressive enough, what makes this exhibit unique is the intricate surrounding that features an airport with planes taxiing, cable cars leading to snow-capped mountains, city streets with 170 cars, including whizzing police cars and firetrucks. This is all situated in scenery that represents Germany, Austria, the Scandinavian countries, and the United States, with a very persuasive model of the Las Vegas strip. The entire setup is completely automated and controlled by advanced software and don’t be surprised if you start believing that what your looking at is a real miniature world of its own.
Still think miniature trains are just toys?