By Sarah Yale
November is National Model Railroad Month, so now is a great time to visit your local train museum. Model Railroad events feature colorful seasonal and holiday themed railways. All 50 states have one or more train museums, often with full size trains and complex model railways. A ride on a vintage train will delight the young and the old. You will be able to take exciting photos to cherish and send to the family far away. Expansive model railways recreate history and illuminate daily life in different time periods.
Enthusiasm for trains can be further developed by joining a model railroad club, reading stories and non-fiction books about trains, watching movies, setting up a toy railroad, building a model railway, going to train collector shows, and reading train magazines. Adults will be interested too.
Kids will learn about history, geography, STEM (science, technology, engineering, math), and so much more. Interesting hobbies can lead to a lifetime of learning. Children’s interests may influence their career choices later on.
Hobbies help children with learning to plan, organize, set goals, follow directions, make decisions, and problem solve. Hobbies offer the opportunity to excel at something unique and enjoyable without the pressures of school. Kids can relax, explore, and build self-confidence.
Trains and railroads played a major part in shaping our country starting in the 1800’s. In 1869 the first transcontinental freight train left from San Francisco and traveled to the east coast. People could ride by train from California to New York in a week. There is so much to learn about trains, from horse driven to wood, coal, steam, electric and computer driven engines, railroading is a fascinating subject.
- Trains are more environmentally friendly when compared to many other forms of travel.
- The actual contact area between the steel train wheels and the steel track is about the size of a dime, thus there is very little resistance, making trains an efficient way to transport heavy goods.
- Freight trains carry 40% of the world’s cargo.
- The Seikan Tunnel in Japan is the longest train tunnel in the world. It is 33.46 miles in length.
- The French TGV bullet train holds the speed record of 574km per hour (357 miles per hour). It braked for 16 kilometers (9 miles) to come to a stop.
Popular Children’s Train Books
- The Little Engine That Could, by Watty Piper
- Locomotive, by Brian Floca
- Freight Train, by Donald Crews
- The Polar Express, by Chris Van Allsburg
- The Little Red Caboose, by Marian Potter
- Thomas The Tank Engine Story Collection, by Rev. W. Awdry
Non-fiction Train Books for Children
- On A Train, by Robert M. Hamilton
- Freight Trains In Action, by Adele D. Richardson
- Trains, by Susan E. Goodman
Model Railroad Books
- The Wonderful World of Model Trains: A Beginner’s Guide To Building Your Own Model Railways and Creating Stunning Sceneries & Layouts, by David B. Brokar
- Building A Model Railroad Step By Step, David Popp
- Realistic Model Railroad Design: Your Step-By-Step Guide To Creating A Unique Operating Layout, by Tony Koester
- www.railmuseums.com – lists museums in North America
- www.greatesthobby.com – find model train clubs, model railroads, hobby shops
- www.nrma.org – educational, national, regional, local memberships, conventions, shows
Sarah Yale is a freelance writer and the mother of two children who love model railroading and vintage trains.