All aboard the museum’s toy train tradition

Tom Giffey

Take a nostalgic trip through a perfectly-to-scale winter wonderland this season with the annual Holiday Toy Trains display at the Chippewa Valley Museum in Eau Claire’s Carson Park. Now in its fourth year, the exhibit opens the day after Thanksgiving and runs through Dec. 29.

The 384-square-foot layout features scale-model trains that chug through winter scenery past local buildings, complete with lights, sound, and steam. “The favorite part for me is watching the expressions on the kids’ faces when they come in to see these things,” exhibit organizer Chuck Lindvig said. “They’re big, and there’s no plastic – it’s all metal. The engines have whistles and bells, and they smoke.”

In addition to watching the trains traverse their routes amid snow-covered fields and tiny trees, kids can make crafts, color pictures, play with floor trains, check out entries into the museum’s gingerbread house contest, and visit with Santa (check with the museum for the timing of St. Nick’s visits).

Holiday Toy Trails opens Friday, Nov. 23, when it will run 1-5pm. After that, the exhibit will be open 1-5pm Saturdays and 5-8pm Tuesdays and Thursdays (the latter two days will feature lighted night trains). Admission is $2 for museum members, $9 for adults, $6 for kids 5-17, and free for those 4 and younger. To learn more, call the museum at (715) 834-7871.