There's something about toy trains and kids and Christmas.
If you agree, then it's time to drop by the Gadsden-Pacific Division Toy Train Operating Museum — whether you're 2 or 92.
Here, you'll find everything from Lionel trains with engines as long as 2 feet to tiny trains with 4-inch locomotives.
Even more fun than the trains chugging around the more than 1,000 feet of track here are the miniature towns and assorted scenery they pass through.
One area, straight out of the '50s, boasts a McDonald's selling burgers for 15 cents apiece, and a car wash complete with simulated sloshing sounds.
"There are a lot of things little kids can do," says museum member Bob Benzinger, pointing to several buttons along the way.
Push one button and a crane starts to work. Push another and men and machinery start to labor near an open pit mine.
Founded in 1981, the museum now boasts 100 members, mostly males, mostly older than 50, though they're actively courting future members with a new children's program.
"We're working with parents and kids, teaching them how to build and operate a layout and run trains," says Benzinger.
Here, says Benzinger, kids will learn mechanics, electrical wiring and motors. "It really does give kids a hands-on skill that the computer doesn't," he says.
The club also hosts tours for 10 or more. And during the holidays, club members will be on hand at several open houses, explaining details and answering questions.
In 1997, the club left the Foothills Mall, where it had been since 1988, and members built their own center in an industrial part of town at 3975 N. Miller Ave. It opened in the fall of 2001.
Though a little hard to find, it's well worth the effort. You'll have a toot-toot-toot of a time.
— Bonnie Henry
If you go
What: Open house at the Gadsden-Pacific Division Toy Train Operating Museum.
When: Today, Dec. 1, 9, 15,16, 22, 23.
Time: 12:30-4:30 p.m.
Where: 3975 N. Miller Ave. From Roger and Romero roads, go west on Price Street (one block north of Roger) to Miller Avenue, then south to museum.
Information: 888-2222, leave a message.