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For the past three holiday seasons, The Santa Fe Children’s Museum has offered a Train Weekend which included an interactive electric train layout that let the children operate, touch and play with the trains, often for the first time in their lives.
The Train Weekend was such a big success the museum has extended the exhibit for an entire week this year. From Dec. 28 to Jan 5 children can try their hand at being an engineer by operating the antique O Gauge model train set and make their own scenery as well.
The Interactive Train Exhibit will be open from noon to 5 p.m. and is included with admission.
To date the Children’s Museum has sponsored three events at the museum and two events in Albuquerque in support of the Rail Runner and National Train Day.
Richard Moeller, local train enthusiast, designed the layout which was built by the museum staff. He provides all of the trains and together with volunteers and museum staff , works with the children running the trains.
In the weeks preceding the event, children at the museum build charming scenery. Many of the trains the children run are antique including Moeller’s original train set. It is estimated that more than 1,000 children have so far experienced the fun of running these electric trains.
Last year Moeller donated two antique train sets, which were raffled during the event. He then spent time at the home of each winner helping them learn how to set up and operate the trains. This year the raffle will be repeated with two more antique train sets.
At the age of eight, Moeller’s parents gave him a Lionel Train set for Christmas. Through not a serious collector, he slowly added to his collection with garage sale items. When his two sons were old enough, together they built a large train layout in the basement of their home and enjoyed it for many years. When his sons left home, he continued to operate the trains at Christmas time for the neighborhood children. He also began assembling complete train sets, which he gave to the children of friends as Christmas gifts.
The children, their parents and Moeller’s and Ursula, his wife, spent many memorable holidays setting up the trains and building scenery together.
“We are so grateful to Richard for working with us to bring this one of a kind exhibit to the museum,” said Rachael Kissling Gilman, director of programming and exhibits. “He has given generously of his time each year and will do so again for an entire week this year. It’s the only interactive train exhibit in Santa Fe and the children love it!”
Santa Fe Children’s Museum admission is $6 for New Mexico residents, $9 for out-of-state visitors.
The Santa Fe Children’s Museum is located at 1050 Old Pecos Trail in Santa Fe, santafechildrensmuseum.org or 989-8359.