Christmas Train Gardens Around the County:
Elaborate Christmas train garden layouts are unique to the mid-Atlantic region, with the highest concentration in Maryland. Dating to the late 1800s, German and Czech immigrants would set up scenes as they had done in Europe. Over the years, model train enthusiasts displayed these gardens at fire halls and other community venues, honoring the nostalgic tradition for the wonder and delight of children of all ages. Harford County has several train gardens that are the perfect opportunity to be a tourist in your own town:
Christopher’s Train Garden
Broom’s Bloom Dairy
1700 S. Fountain Green Road, Bel Air
Hours, through January 1 • 11am-8pm
The annual train garden, featuring an extensive layout that includes local scenes from around Harford County, is in memory of Christopher Cooper, a little boy who loved trains and loved the magic of Christmas. The garden, in its own building, includes fun activities for children. 410.399.2697
Jarrettsville Train Garden
Jarrettsville Volunteer Fire Company, 3825 Federal Hill Road, Jarrettsville
Hours, through January 12 • Fridays, 6:30-9pm; Saturdays and Sundays, 1-9pm.
Closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day
Celebrating 37 years, the Train Garden has become a holiday tradition for many Harford County families. Trains on multiple levels are accessible for even the shorter visitors, along with interactive portions of the layouts which feature local scenes. Children can also enjoy a variety of activities, including a scavenger hunt, with voucher for a small ice cream at Jarrettsville Ice Cream. 410.692.5893
The Mason-Dixon Large Scale Railroad Society
Bel Air at the Bel Air Town Center
(in the former AAA Office adjacent to Alchemy Elements Restaurant)
Hours, through December 31 • 11/23, Saturdays 1-9 pm; Sundays, 1-5pm; Thursdays and Fridays, 5-9pm; closed Christmas Eve and Day; closed New Year’s Eve and Day.
Large-scale (G-gauge) trains are operated on two layouts: a 35- by 34-foot main layout and a small Winter-themed display featuring Thomas the Tank Engine and his friends. These layouts contain several animated displays including a large carnival with operating rides, a construction site with working machines and vehicles, a Beatles concert, a winter wonderland, and various other realistic landscapes. Military trains will be featured on December 8; other special events are posted at the display. Visitors can participate in a scavenger hunt to win prizes for completing the hunt successfully. Joe 410 838-3918 or Manny 410 804-6110
Admission to all of these train gardens is FREE, thanks to the generosity of the model railroaders who share their enthusiasm. Donations are, of course, welcome to maintain and improve the layouts. Take some time off from your Holiday shopping, and bring family and friends to enjoy these fascinating displays.