Carnegie Science Center, a mecca for train lovers during the holiday season for two decades, is supercharging the family fun this year with Lionel Days, through January 1.
Lionel Days, presented by Lionel, is a month-long festival of trains. At the heart of all the railroad fun is the Science Center’s Miniature Railroad and Village®, a favorite of families throughout the region for generations. The Miniature Railroad reopened on Nov. 29 with a brand- new exhibit: the Allegheny County Mortuary Building.
The Allegheny County Mortuary, designed by Frederick Osterling, is a fortress-like stone building completed in 1902, with skylights over the surgery rooms. In 1929, the building was moved approximately 297 feet to its current location, to make room for the County Office Building.
The model shows not only the building itself, but the building in the process of the move: a team of tiny horses walk in a circle to turn a winch that pulled the morgue along steel rails atop massive cribbing.
The railroad is free with general admission. Visitors who purchase a copy of the On Track gallery guide can participate in a very special scavenger hunt. The guide describes some infamous Pittsburgh crimes from yesteryear and visitors are encouraged to find “clues” in the railroad layout.
Throughout Lionel Days, visitors will enjoy special train displays featuring models from Lionel’s own archives, spanning its 113-year history. This temporary exhibition marks the first time these artifacts have been on public display.
Lionel has also provided a classic model railroad layout and train decorations on the grand holiday tree. On weekends, special themed activities keep the fun on track. Young train enthusiasts will enjoy visits from Lenny the Lion, the Lionel mascot, and the Lionel Kids Zone, where children can put together model trains.
The centerpiece event of Lionel Days is Locomotion Weekend. On Dec. 14 and 15, the Science Center will host a rail yard filled with guest train displays by local hobbyists. Visitors can bring their own model trains for a free checkup by the “Loco Doctor” and enjoy special themed activities.
Locomotion Weekend is free with general admission. Locomotion Weekend is also sponsored by Isaly’s and WISH 99.7.
Lionel Days also encompasses Breakfast Express. This annual favorite features a piping-hot breakfast, then Conductor Mike shouts “All aboard for the Polar Express!” The “train” of children and grownups proceeds to the Rangos Omnimax Theater for a visit with Mr. McFeely and a screening of The Polar Express: An IMAX Experience. The morning ends with time in the Miniature Railroad & Village.
Breakfast Express, sponsored by Lionel, is offered Dec. 7, 14, and 21 and costs $30 for adults and $25 for children and seniors. Members of Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh get a $5 discount off these prices, and the cost for all children age 2 and younger is just $10. Registration is now open by phone, at 412-237-3400, then press 7.
More information about the Science Center’s holiday programs is available on the website.