Christmas train gardens: A visit to one of our favorites at the Brandywine River Museum

Long before John and I became parents, we spent the holiday season traveling the Christmas train garden circuit. John is a toy train enthusiast, and so I know more about local train gardens than local cuisine, theater, or music.

One of our favorite train displays, though, isn’t all that local, so we don’t always manage to get there for an annual trip. It’s on exhibit at the Brandywine River Museum in Chadds Ford, Pa., not far from Longwood Gardens.

John and I are both on Christmas break, so we decided to make the drive with our boys yesterday.
The museum has a beautifully detailed display that uses local foliage from the area to create a realistic scene.

Our boys found a scavenger hunt that kept them busy for a while. All the best train gardens have scavenger hunts.

And the drive-in theater was showing Frozen, so we had plenty to see.

The boys even tried to count the cars on the longest train. After a few attempts ended in frustration, I pointed out that the answer was readily available.

The display doesn’t change much year to year, although this year we were happy to see some Minions working on an engine. And the locomotive carries a video camera, so you can watch on a screen and imagine you are riding along. If you’re lucky, you can even talk your little brother into jumping into the frame just in time to see him on screen.

And we wandered through some of the other galleries in the museum, which are worth much more attention than we give them on our visits there.
They really have some magnificent pieces there, and they hint at that in the train display.

While we were looking at the trains, John chatted with the man who was running the controls. This is his 38th year overseeing the display there. He told us he’ll break it down on Sunday night and move it into storage for another year.

Then next November John and I will start talking about whether we can fit in another trip to see it again.

Where are your favorite Christmas train displays?

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.