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Seeing a garden railroad decorated for Christmas with lights, running trains, and Christmas carols playing in the background is a great way to get a jump start on your family's Christmas spirit. Garden Railroading Primer Articles: All about getting a Garden Railroad up and running well Garden Train Store: Index to train, track, and other products for Garden Railroading
Large Scale Starter Sets: Begin with a train you'll be proud to run Best Choices for Beginning Garden Railroaders: a short list of things you're most likely to need when starting out
Large Scale Track order FormSturdy buildings for your garden railroad.
Large Scale Christmas Trains: Trains with a holiday theme for garden or professional display railroads.Free Large Scale Signs and Graphics: Bring your railroad to life with street signs, business signs, and railroad signs
Garden Railroading Books, Magazines, and Videos: Where to go to learn even more
Collectible Trains and Villages: On30 Trains and accessories designed by Thomas Kinkade and others

Written by Paul D. Race for Family Garden Trains

Written by Paul Race for Family Garden Trains

Garden Train Store: Index to train, track, and other products for Garden Railroading

Click to see quality Christmas collectibles with railroad themes.Southwest Ohio/Northern Kentucky 2015 Christmas-Themed Open Railroads

Do you like to see big trains running at Christmas? Many people do, although most Large Scale railroads only operate during the summer months. However, some brave folks every year fight the temptation to take their trains inside when it gets cold, and they run trains in the weeks preceding Christmas as well.

For the last seven years, we've had our garden railroad, the New Boston and Donnels Creek, open for visitors in early November. We light dozens of trees, play Christmas music, run Christmas-themed trains, pop popcorn (in a theater-style popcorn popper), serve other snacks, show Christmas or train movies outside, set up toy and model trains that little kids can take turns running, and generally show folks a great time.

This year we plan to host our Eighth Annual Christmas-Themed Open Railroad on Saturday, November 14. Locally, we're calling this event "Christmas Train Day," because we've figured out that most folks don't know what "open railroad" means, or even "garden railroad." But if you say "Christmas Train Day," folks come expecting to see trains and something "Christmassy," and that they do.

Lots of folks come early to see the daylight operations. When the weather is cold, I don't blame them. But if it's a warm day (for November) the truth is, the BEST time to come is about 3:45 - then, as you visit and it starts to get a bit darker, the lights glow more and more. The "magic hour" is just before twilight - you can still see everything, but it all has begun to take on a warm glow. Of course you can check the weather report before you plan your visit. This is Ohio, after all. In the past five years, we've had one bitterly cold day, three pretty days that turned cool after dark, and two "shirtsleeve weather" days.

In other words, it's usually a nice place to spend a Saturday afternoon getting into the Christmas spirit early. Our friend Dan Stenger, who lives about eighty miles south of us, often has his railroad open in December, but we choose November, because the NMRA has a big show in Dayton a week before and we want to show our support.

If you want directions or to be notified of future open houses, just use the contact form on this page.

Click to see more photos of Dan's railroad decorated for Christmas in 2007Dan Stenger, a friend in northern Kentucky, is braver than I - he usually schedules two or more Christmas-themed open railroads houses in December. Dan's railroad is much larger than mine, so it's always worth seeing.

In addition, there are many other places to see Large Scale model trains running in December. I'm going to start with the ones I know and add any more that I learn about as time goes on. So you should probably check back.

Additional Resources

Note About Public Railroads: While we are posting the best information we have, we can not guarantee that any railroad listed on this page will be open as planned. If you are going to be traveling any distance to see these railroads, please contact the organization first to make certain it will be open at the time you plan to attend.

Note About Railroads at Private Residences: Most garden railroaders who have "open houses" prefer to have contact information for the people who are planning to come - it lets us know how many people are coming so we can better line up help and snacks, it provides a bit more security for us, and it also gives us a way of getting ahold of you in case something goes wrong and we have to cancel at the last minute.

Click to see articles and resources for a joyful family Christmas.Also, please use the comments box below if you would like to:

  • List a holiday-season open house near you - please provide contact information
  • Help at a "private" open house by bringing snacks or helping us get ready or supervise, or in any other way.
  • Request help setting up your own Holiday-themed display railroad for next year. Just fill in the details in the "comment" box below and we'll get back as soon as we can.

Thanks, and happy railroading,

Paul Race

Family Garden Trains

SW Ohio/Northern KY Christmas Railroad Open Houses

LocationRailroadPublic or Private?ScheduleContact
Springfield, OhioNew Boston and Donnels Creek RRPrivate
Nov. 14, 1:00PM-5:00PM (other dates possible, depending on response)Use check boxNotify of Future Open Houses?
Dayton, OhioVirginia Kettering's Train DisplayPublic, No Admission, Near Schuster Center Wintergarden, which also has many free Christmas Displays and ActivitiesMonday through Friday, Starting the Day after Thanksgiving and going to New Years, 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM, at the Kettering Tower, E 2nd St. and N Jefferson St.www.dayton
Northern Kentucky (18 miles south of Cincinnati)Cranberry and Linville River Railroad Company Private
Fridays, December 4, 11, 18, 7-9 p.m.
Thursday, December 17th, 7-8 p.m.
Use check boxSend Directions?
West Chester, Ohio (12 miles north of Cincinnati)EnterTrainment Junction Public (There is a cost to get in)10 a.m.-6 p.m., Monday-Saturday, and noon-6 p.m., Sunday. (Closed Easter Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day). (Closed Wednesdays, January thru April). Check Web SiteCheck Web Site
Columbus, Ohio Easton Town Center Public (Outdoor Garden Railroad)10 a.m.- 9 p.m., Monday-Saturday, and 10 a.m - 6 p.m., Sunday. Check Web SiteCheck Web Site

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Return to Family Garden Trains Home page Return to Big Indoor Trains Home page Garden Railroading Primer Articles: All about getting a Garden Railroad up and  running well Big Indoor Trains Primer Articles: All about setting  up and displaying indoor display trains and towns. Garden Train Store: Index to train, track, and other products for Garden Railroading Big Christmas Trains: Directory of Large Scale and O Scale trains with holiday themes
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