It’s very possible that I am the only boy of my generation who never had a model train when he was growing up. I’m not sure if that was because my folks couldn’t afford one, or didn’t think I’d shown any interest, or (more likely) they realized what a klutz I was, even at a young age, and didn’t think it was very good idea to give me anything that included moving parts or electricity. They were pretty smart that way.
But I’ve always admired the model train layouts that I’ve seen over the years. Not so much the trains, to be honest with you, but rather the actual layouts; all of the buildings that make up the little trackside communities. I’ve seen layouts with stores, saloons, houses, banks, and of course, railroad depots. I think they appeal to me for the same reason that I love writing fiction; it’s the ability to create your very own little world and control how it looks and what happens in it. I’m sure a psychologist could make something out of that.
All that being said, when Greg White told me about a place called Entertrainment Junction in Cincinnati a while back, I wasted no time in contacting them about a couple of press passes so we could come by and do a story. They were happy to accommodate us, so yesterday we went to check it out.
This isn’t your grandpa’s model train layout! The place was amazing. It is the world’s largest indoor model train layout, with over 25,000 square feet and 2½ miles of track. I don’t care how old you are, when you tour this place you’re a kid again!
The layout is in G scale, which stands for garden, since most G scale layouts are built outside. The layout takes you from the earliest days of steam engine railroads through today’s powerful modern diesel locomotives. And the detail is amazing!
You can look in the windows of the stores, restaurants, and houses and see merchandise on the shelves, tables set for dinner, and people going about their daily lives. And it’s all built from scratch by the many faithful volunteers who help make this place a reality. In fact, owner Don Oeters told us that there were 65,000 man-hours invested to date in the creation of Entertrainment Junction.
This is a work in progress, and they are constantly adding new features and expanding the layout. Don gave us a behind-the-scenes tour of the workshop where everything is built, and explained how much research and work is involved.
While the model train layout is the main feature, Entertrainment Junction has a lot more to offer. Kids love the A-Maze-N Funhouse, whose lobby is designed like a classic circus midway, complete with old time re-creations of arcade games, including an old-style coin-operated Zoltar fortune telling machine.
There are five separate sideshow circus tents, each with a different theme: Curtain Chaos, Clown College, Mirror Maze, Crazy Caper, and Outer Limits: Journey Through The Black Hole. The Mirror Maze is one of the largest of its kind in North America.
There is also a Thomas the Train that kids can ride on, a gift shop, restaurant, and a hobby shop filled with model trains, buildings for layouts, and any other accessory a model railroader could want or need.
We spent about three hours at Entertrainment Junction, and could have stayed even longer, but we had dropped Miss Terry off at Jungle Jim’s on the way, and needed to pick her up. But you can bet it’s a place we’ll be going back to see again.
I will have a feature on Entertrainment Junction in an upcoming issue of the Gypsy Journal. If a grown up kid can’t have his own model train layout, it’s the next best thing!
Thought For The Day – I will never be over the hill, because I’m too darned tired to climb it.