The township’s American History Museum is hosting an antique toy train exhibit through Jan. 29 to give residents a glimpse into the American way of life from the 1930s to the ‘50s, arguably among the most consequential decades in the country’s history.
“We set up two different boards with vintage buildings,” said curator Jeffrey Norcross. “We try to set it up like it’s the 1950s, and the items we have are set up like that.”
The main goal of the exhibit is to evoke the look and feel of a vintage, traditional Christmas, demonstrating for visitors what people from the era could expect to see around the tree on Christmas morning, outside their homes and around most towns.
The exhibit, which opened for this year on Nov. 25, was initially conceived of in the 1990s to offer museum attendees something focused on the Christmas season.
“Back in the ‘90s, we thought it might be a good idea to have something oriented towards the holidays,” said Norcross. “They (trains) are all donated, and the children love them. I always get a kick out of their reactions.”
The toy trains donated to the exhibit are from the aforementioned decades, specifically the O and 0-27 models. To Norcross, they help evoke a sense of nostalgia to visitors who lived during those times.
“We have people in their 60s and 70s remember these toys, which brings them back to a time when they were kids,” he noted. “Grandparents like to bring in their grandchildren for them to experience the things they did when they were young.”
The Lionel, Marx and American Flyer trains will race each other as they carry adjoining cars. A vintage model town will be made with vintage Plasticville buildings from the 1950s.
This year’s toy train exhibit is the first in five years for the museum – a gap partly caused by COVID – but 2022 also marks the 20th time it has been held.
The American History Museum is open on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission is $4 for adults, $3 for children and $2.50 per person for groups. More information can be found on the township Facebook page.