History Center Celebrates Renowned Miniature Railroad Creator on Saturday

11025169_888264061226161_6908711378194774929_nBROOKVILLE, Pa. (EYT) – Each year the Jefferson County History Center in Brookville celebrates the birthday of Charles Bowdish, a renowned model train builder and one of the community’s most interesting and notable locals.

(Pictured: Charles Bowdish with some of his model buildings. Photo courtesy Jefferson County History Center.)

Born in 1896, Bowdish was the youngest son of Albert and Theodosia Bowdish.

While serving in the Army during WWI, he developed a heart condition which resulted in an honorable discharge from service.

After returning to Brookville, Bowdish began building detailed models of structures around his hometown.

On Christmas Eve in 1920, a guest at the Bowdish household asked to invite friends over to see the holiday model display.

Word quickly spread and soon hundreds of Brookville locals were lined up outside Bowdish’s home.

Growing each year, his display eventually began to occupy most of the second floor of the Bowdish family home.

Over the decades, word of Bowdish’s displays and their popularity reached throughout Western Pennsylvania. In 1954 the Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science in Pittsburgh offered to host his holiday display in one of the museum’s galleries.

Visiting The Christmastown Railroad, later renamed The Miniature Railroad & Village, quickly became a holiday staple for families across Western Pennsylvania.

The first display of the Miniature Railroad and Village, at The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science, in the holiday season of 1954. Photo courtesy The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science.

The first display of the Miniature Railroad and Village, at The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science, in the holiday season of 1954. Photo courtesy The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science.

A redesigned and reconstructed Miniature Railroad & Village debuted at the Carnegie Science Center in 1992. Following the tradition of Bowdish, each scale-model replica was created with extraordinary attention to detail.

A new replica is added each year to the display portraying Western Pennsylvania history for all to enjoy.

The Miniature Railroad & Village is currently on display at the Carnegie Science Center.

Bowdish model train displays are also viewable at the Jefferson County History Center (JCHC).

This year, JCHC will host its annual celebration of Bowdish’s birthday on Saturday, March 7, from noon to 5:00 p.m.

The celebration will feature the newly redesigned Bowdish Model Railroad and two new exhibits.

Admission is free for the event.

Non-members who arrive with a JCHC member will receive a free 2015 membership.


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