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Jefferson County Historical Society model train exhibit on display through February

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North country residents have until the end of February to visit the Jefferson County Historical Society before the model trains on exhibit leave the station.

Executive Director William G. Wood said the agency has been getting assistance from the Watertown Model Train Club to perfect the model train exhibit in the basement of the Paddock mansion, 228 Washington St.

“They’re adding scenery; it’s a long, manual process,” he said.

The exhibit features three scenes: Public Square in winter, Black River in fall and farm life in summer.

Mr. Wood said the exhibit is a repeat from last December to February, but it has grown as final pieces come together.

On the first floor, a 1933 vintage train set is on display under the Christmas tree. Mr. Wood said that belongs to former Watertown Mayor T. Urling Walker, who received it when he was a child.

Worried that having the exhibit again wouldn’t attract as many people, or would attract only boys, Mr. Wood said, he was gladly proven wrong.

“Ironically, the first family we had this year has a little girl, and she didn’t leave the train set for 20 minutes,” he said.

“It kind of stimulates imagination, and a little nostalgia for adults. It continues to be of universal interest, and we’re glad of that.”

While children or adults alike get to run the trains themselves, Mr. Wood said, he takes that opportunity and turns it into a miniature history lesson as he explains all about trains.

Because of the continued interest in model trains, the agency is raffling off a trolley train on an elevated platform and a Lionel train set. Everything included is valued at about $500, Mr. Wood said. Tickets are $1 each, or 25 for $10. The winner will be announced at the end of February.

Another bonus, Mr. Wood said, is representatives from the Watertown Model Train Club will be on hand from 10 a.m. to noon each Saturday until Feb. 23 to interact with children and adults and teach them more about the hobby.

For more information about the historical society, including admission fees and hours of operation, visit its website, www.jeffersoncountyhistory.org.

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