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Holiday Visitors Enjoy Trains at Museum

December 31, 2010

01/03/11 A special running of the 8 by 40 model train set housed at the Marshall County Museum on Wednesday attracted over 200 visitors, according to Museum Director Linda Rippy. Within the first 15 minutes that the display was opened, there had already been 50 visitors.

Rippy said the display can only be opened when there are enough volunteers.

Acting as the official engineer for the two-hour attraction was 15-year-old Jack Garrison. Garrison is a sophomore at Plymouth High School. Donned in his striped railroad engineer’s hat, Garrison said he was happy to help since he has a passion for model train sets as well as all trains. Garrison said, “I grew up in the Chicago area where my father Bob Garrison took me to the Metro Station often.” “When I would visit my grandparents, Chris and Jim Causey, in Plymouth, they would take me to Ed Langfelt’s train store.” Garrison said. When he was asked by Langfeldt to help with the train project at the museum, he couldn’t have been more thrilled.

Also volunteering for the attraction on Wednesday was Dick Millikan. Millikan said, “I rode a lot of trains as a kid.” He indicated that he looks forward to volunteering in the future when the display will be running each Saturday starting January 8 from 11:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m.

Rippy is most excited about the opportunities to teach area children about the history of the railroads, especially those that were in Marshall County. She said, “Langfeldt started talking to us about donating the train set about two years ago as we were planning Phase I of our expansion.” Rippy said they set aside an entire room for the display including posters showing the progress of trains over the years , former locations of depots and their importance to the community and several  articles that were originally used on real trains. It took nearly a year and some eight volunteers to get the train display in place that includes interactive components.

Rippy said the local Kiwanis Club donated $500 to help with the purchase of an N Scale Model Train set to add to the room. The new project is still a work in progress, according to Rippy.

At this time, Rippy is expanding her efforts in working with local schools for tours. She said that they are concentrating on incorporating the state education standards into the project that readily lends itself to social studies and history classes.

Enhancing the room are ten foot high graphics of railroad scenes covering the windows. Rippy credits the window displays to Graphics Unlimited of Bremen that made them using only postcard size pictures to blow up.

The museum is located at 123 N. Michigan St., Plymouth. For more information on the train project or other museum offerings, call 936-2306.