January 19, 2018

Enchanted Railroad Returns

Winding, whistling, and whipping around the tracks, these trains are back to put a smile on every visitor who comes by to see the Enchanted Railroad at the Morton Arboretum.

The scenic two-level display of miniatures has plenty of surprises just waiting to be discovered as ten different trains chug along multiple loops all put together by the LGB Model Railroad Club of Chicago.

“Except for the Amtrak train, which the club owns, all of these trains are owned by individual club members so it gives us a chance to run our trains in the winter time,” said club member, Bill Schwartz. “A lot of us have garden railroads and run trains during the spring and summer months, and of course with this time of year everything shuts down so this gives us a chance to do that. I have a train around on that catenary track down there, the one with the wire and the overhead. It’s an electric engine, and it’s actually getting power from the overhead wire.”

After club members set up tracks on the 15 by 25 foot base, arboretum staff adds the finishing decorative touches, which all takes about two weeks. Those all center on this year’s new theme – trees and trains from around the world.

“Here at the arboretum we are the champion of trees, and this year we wanted to highlight trees that you can find all around the grounds,” explained arboretum Special Events Coordinator Mary D’Amico. “So you’ll see sycamore trees and beach trees and various trees throughout the display. We are also highlighting our events so you’ll see a scene that represents our Destination Asia Festival, which has some model Asian trees; a little sumo wrestler is shaking around and some different stuff to highlight that event.”

And that tree theme branches to the smallest of details.

“My favorite part is we have little miniature arborists that are up in the tree and they’re pruning the branches back,” said D’Amico. “It shows all of the work that it takes to keep the arboretum clean.”

The special height of the display and interactive buttons that affect the scenery make the Enchanted Railroad perfect for family fun.

“It’s a lot of fun to see the parents and grandparents bring the kids out to have a good time, and you can see how they really fall in love with trains, just as we do as adults,” added Schwartz.

Everyday 200 to 1000 visitors come to check out the Enchanted Railroad. It’s expected that about 20,000 visitors will stop by during its entire run from January 13 through February 19.

The Enchanted Railroad tickets are free with general admission and are on a timed basis.

Naperville New 17’s Christine Lena reports.

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