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Ohio County Historical Society Seeks Train Display
A beloved, local holiday electric train show is in danger of not running this year, but it's probably not the one you're thinking of.
Local 12 News Reporter Jeff Hirsh takes us back in time to a small county which has a big love for its past and for its train layout.
From the Hoosier Boy ... the fastest boat ever on the Ohio River ... 68 miles an hour in 1907 ... to the two-headed calf ... to other more traditional historical displays, like the original surveyors equipment from 1814, the Ohio County Historical Society Museum in Rising Sun has artifacts and displays covering the past two centuries of Indiana's smallest geographical county.
"They say the nation's first electric chair was built here in rising sun over a century ago. It was shipped off to a prison in another state. This is a replica. They assure me it doesn't work. Really. It doesn't. I hope."
But one of most popular exhibits here is in jeopardy, ironically, also one which relies on electricity.
"With the train exhibit, the area in front would have a platform covered with an extremely large train exhibit and off to the side would be smaller train models with villages."
For the past ten years, the historical society has had an electric train layout ... train sets and 120 pieces worth of miniature towns and miniature people. Some of the trains date to the 1940's.
But the museum volunteers who owned the trains have left, taking their trains. The historical society, housed in a former 19th century furniture factory, would like to rent a train layout for this holiday season from somebody, anybody... this year only ... which would buy the society time to build up its own collection.
Cliff Thies, Historical Society Executive Director:
"It's nostalgia. A lot of our seniors come in to see them, having these trains from the 1940's and 50's, playing with them at Christmas, it was always a big deal to get the train out."
And for the kids.
"Oh, they're just astonished. It's just like Christmas morning. The tables are about this high. And they're trying to peek over. It's pretty magical, it really is."
The train display has a side benefit. It brings people to the museum who then learn about their own home town. Christmas is not too far off, and time is running out to get some new, old trains.
By the way, Ohio County's never had a real railroad. The model is all they've got.
If you know someone with a train who can help, click here.