Whether it's the pistons pumping, smokestack spouting or whistle blowing, there's just something about trains that can capture the heart of both a child and an adult. Just an hour's drive from Washington, D.C., is the Roads and Rails Museum, which has one of the largest miniature train displays in the entire country.
This museum, based in Frederick, Md., is the product of David Burroughs and his life-long love of collecting trains. Joined by his sons – David, John and Matt – and his family friend Bill Gardner, the group spent five years working full-time to create and complete the display, mainly from scratch.
Opened in July 2011, the museum plays host to the young and young at heart who have a soft spot for trains.
These two Lego trains are just a small part of the Legos on display at the Roads and Rails Museum — Photo courtesy of Roads and Rails Museum
Here, you'll see miniature versions of the 9:30 Club right near the Cobra Kai dojo, made famous in The Karate Kid. Aliens have landed in a farmer's corn field and left crop circles, while an Internal Revenue Service building goes up in (fake) flames.
Some of the displays feature buttons for patrons to start up, areas such as the roller coaster, carnival rides, an erupting volcano and a Wild West train.
For those who love Thomas the Tank Engine, he can usually be found being "really useful" on the main display and has his own little layout just outside the Lego room, complete with a button to start him up.
The museum is open year-round, but it's a great spot to go to during the holidays. Besides festive decorations and holiday trains on display, the owners hide tiny Santas throughout the displays for a fun seasonal scavenger hunt. There's no telling where Kris Kringle may end up.
There are other scavenger hunts available for experts and little kids, where you can look for designated items throughout the model.
One area you will not want to miss is a room featuring a large Lego display off from the side of the main area. Thousands of Lego sets are mixed together in a wonderland that would make Lord Business' head spin. See Boba Fett's Slave I ship hovering near Marty McFly and Doc in the DeLorean.
Check out the huge pirate ship in an ocean with mermaids, or look over the medieval battle about to take place. A separate Christmas display is also brought out for the holidays, featuring a Lego train.
Admission to Roads and Rails is $8 for adults, $5 for ages three through 11 and free for kids under three. Museum admission is good for the entire day, so take as many laps around as you like, or come back later to catch items you may have missed.
If you enjoy the sounds of pistons pumping and whistles calling, then head on up to Frederick for a train-tastic time.