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Union Pacific Railroad Museum to host model railroad club layouts
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Union Pacific Railroad Museum to host model railroad club layouts


Clickety-clack, clickety-clack, trains will be coming down the track!

Members of the N-Trak Model Railroad Club will operate tabletop model trains from 12-6 p.m. on Dec. 3-4, Dec. 10-11 and Dec. 17-18 at the Union Pacific Railroad Museum, 200 Pearl St. in Council Bluffs.

Young engineers will have an opportunity to run one of the trains, too, according to Patricia LaBounty, museum curator.

The event has been a holiday season tradition at the Union Pacific Railroad Museum in recent years (except last year), LaBounty said.

“It’s always really popular,” she said. “There’s just something about model trains and the holidays that get people nostalgic and happy. It’s always a lot of fun.”

In fact, models trains have long been associated with Christmas in the United States, a press release from the museum noted.

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“It is believed by some that the tradition dates back to the 1940s, when railroads helped bring thousands of American servicemen and women home for the holidays,” the press release stated. “Others say it’s because the first regularly scheduled passenger train in the U.S. began in 1830 on Christmas Day.”

Either way, watching model trains evokes excitement in young hearts and feelings of nostalgia in older ones.

N-gauge model trains are about 1/160th of actual size and get their name from the 9mm width of their tracks, a club member said during a previous visit.

“N-gauge is a really fun gauge for model railroads, because you can fit so much on a table,” LaBounty said. “It’s always exciting to see the detail and the volume they can bring.”

The museum also has a permanent 0-gauge model train setup on the second floor that can be activated with a button if someone wants to watch it run.

The museum will offer a free virtual “Steam into Saturday” program at 5:25 p.m. on Dec. 11. The program will include games, trivia and train talk. Those interested can register on the museum’s website given below.

Visitors are encouraged to register at least one hour before arrival on the museum’s website at, enter through the north entrance on the lower level and wear a face mask when in the building. The museum is currently open Fridays and Saturdays from 12-6 p.m. It will be closed on Dec. 24-25 and Dec. 31-Jan. 1. Admission is free. All donations support the Union Pacific Museum Association, a 501©3 registered nonprofit.

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