Monday, September 22, 2014

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Cortland/Ithaca

Keeping train history alive

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Keeping train history alive
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Binghamton hasn't had passenger train service for many years now; but, one rail yard in the city had a lot of foot traffic this weekend, as the Roberson Museum and Science Center held its Annual Model Train and Doll Fair. Our Elyse Mickalonis explains, some historians hope the event will help bring passenger trains back to the area.

BINGHAMTON, N.Y. -- It’s something that reminds us of childhood.

“From the littlest ones right up to seniors, everybody seems to be fascinated with trains,” said Robert Hamilton, Roberson Volunteer and Railroad Designer.

Terry McDonald, Roberson Museum and Science Center Executive Director, added, “Trains are fun because they’re nostalgic for one thing; but unlike some other kids of toys, they move, they’re animated.”

Train enthusiasts flocked to the Roberson Museum and Science Center’s Annual Model Train and Doll Fair on Sunday. The museum holds the region’s largest public model train display. The display took volunteers more than 3,000 hours to construct and expand. The exhibit spotlights many Southern Tier communities during the 1950s.

“Two years to get to this point and it’s just great to see the smiles on the faces. People are really enjoying the layout,” said Hamilton.

McDonald added, “It has the Susquehanna River flowing through and a lot of communities around the Susquehanna area, including Susquehanna, PA. It’s dated circa late 1940s early 1950s. It’s just a great example of volunteerism and community interest in a topic.”

Historians say teaching kids about local train history is important. They hope it will create interest in passenger rail service in the area once again.

"It was one of the most common ways of long distance travel. Unfortunately, the last passenger train left here in January of 1970. So, we've been without passenger trains for some time,” said John Goodnough, Susquehanna Valley Railway Historical Society President. “We'd love to see it come back and see the kids experience riding on a real passenger trains."

Goodnough says hobbies such as model train collecting are fun and passing those on to future generations can help keep Americana alive.

Visitors were also able to speak with collectors and purchase from model train vendors.
Binghamton University students are currently working with the museum on their display.

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