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Carnegie Science Center's Locomotion Weekend enthralls children, adults

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Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012, 5:26 p.m.

The Carnegie Science Center's Locomotion Weekend mesmerized hundreds of children on Saturday — and more than a few adults who never really got over the model trains they first saw around their Christmas trees.

“I've liked model trains since I was about 2. I guess I've never really grown out of it,” said Steve Hertzer, whose club, the Fort Pitt Hi-Railers hosted the event's largest exhibit — a 24-by-34 foot train display with four tracks.

Hertzer, 42, a human resources administrator, and about 10 other members of the club spent about four hours Friday night setting up the vast display, which occupies most of the huge exhibit room. He says it only takes about an hour and a half to take down.

The weekend's displays feature dozens of model trains, rail-related exhibits, and interactive activities.

“This is a great set of trains,” Jake Kempton, 7, of Economy, said of Hertzer's display. “There is so much going on.”

Jake was at the show with his father, Jim, and brother, Ryan, 5.

Owners of broken model trains could get free repairs from the Loco Doctor — a table staffed by members of the Train Collectors Association-Fort Pitt Division as well as by Joe Mania of Freehold, N. J., a columnist for Classic Toy Trains magazine.

“There were about seven or eight people who needed locomotives fixed. Some needed oiling. One Lionel engine from the 1930s needed its wiring reworked a bit,” Mania said.

Model trains have enduring appeal. But each generation is drawn to model trains for different reasons, says Larry Salone, executive director of the Railroaders Memorial Museum in Altoona, which displays trains and also owns the Horseshoe Curve National Historic Landmark.

“People's parents and grandparents probably either worked on the railroad or knew people who did. Many people that age also traveled by train, which is not as common anymore,” Salone said.

Today's kids have been turned on to trains by the movie, “The Polar Express” and by the “Thomas the Tank Engine” series, he said.

Rick Wills is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7944 or at



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