Entertrainment Junction - January 25, 2009
I'd heard about Entertrainment Junction well before its August opening. I even sort of stopped by once. That "sort of" stop was fairly late on a fall weekend afternoon and the lot was nearly deserted. Maybe they'd already closed for the day, I thought as I rolled through the parking lot with just a brief pause. But checking the published hours of operation told me that I had not seen a closed attraction; just a poorly attended one. Today's visit was different.

The weatherman said cold with snow flurries. Just the right sort of day to visit an inside attraction. I headed out for a leisurely breakfast then on to the "World's Largest Indoor Train Display". There were about a dozen cars already in the lot with people in every one of them. Only when I checked the time did I remember that the Sunday opening time is noon rather that the normal 10 AM. It was 11:40. These people, most with kids, were here twenty minutes before the doors even opened. Things looked much more promising than they had a few months ago. I grabbed a book to pass the time and kept reading for a few minutes beyond noon when the first wave headed for the doors. When I did go inside, I wandered about a few more minutes while the line worked its way past the ticket window. Even with something of a crowd, I still had doubts that looking at anybody's toy trains could be worth the thirteen bucks I laid down... until I saw the first bridge.

2 miles of G-gauge track, 3 time periods, 90 trains, 1200 cars, 25,000 square feet and that's just Phase 1. Though I don't know how many there are, I was personally as impressed with the bridges as with any aspect of the display. Each is unique and each is based on a real-world bridge, not a famous bridge but a real bridge nonetheless. And each is hand built. Most of the buildings are also hand built and many are copies of real structures. The display's three sections each cover about half a century. Steam engines with exposed boilers and pointed cow catchers travel over wooden bridges in the first section. Bigger steam locomotives with more streamlined bodies rumble through the middle section and huge diesels pull long strings of cars through the modern world. Had I known when I was taking the picture that the long passenger train with its rows of lighted windows was the unofficial "People's Choice", I'd have tried to do a better job. Of course, that doesn't mean I would have. The third row of pictures contains glimpses of Imagination Junction and the American Railroading Museum. There's lots of fun stuff in both but I just have to mention the clip of The Great Train Robbery from 1903 in the museum. Bet you can't get that at Blockbuster. (You can see it at YouTube but without the 90 trains, 1200 cars, etc.).

Measuring all the track in the displays might leave you feeling a little short changed because half of that two miles of track is "behind the scenes". Fortunately an extra cost "behind the scenes" tour is offered. I went for it and got the guy who is behind the entire scene as a guide. Owner Don Oeters appeared to show me the inside of the mountains where trains hide and tunnels evaporate. He also told of future plans (Probably three years just to finish everything currently planned and then more plans.), pointed out lots of things I'd missed (The bear with the fish.), and revealed a few ""secrets" (A fellow who accidentally kicked a hole in a model window, made things right by staging an automobile wreck with the car crashing through the window.). There were trains and mountains and a bridge behind Don when I took the picture but I managed to botch the settings so that they're all blacked out. There's a man whose toy trains are definitely worth paying to see.

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