Penn State

On Centre | Penn State: All aboard for model railroad display

The roar, the rumble, the unstoppable force. You just can’t look away.

No, not the Blue-White game. I’m talking about trains.

There’s something about a locomotive that is hypnotic. Don’t believe it? Ask any 4-year-old. I know — kids, trains — it’s downright cliche. But there are things you just can’t deny.

Once kids grow out of that Thomas the Tank Engine age, the train fascination goes away, right?

Not necessarily.

Underneath the East Halls dorms, there is proof that some kids don’t outgrow the siren song of the rails. In an 1,100-square-foot space, the Penn State Model Railroad Club has laid out 2,200 linear feet of track. For those who haven’t taken a math class in a while, that’s 0.4 miles.

There is another 400 square feet of benchwork, the carefully crafted miniature scenery that takes what might be dismissed as the kind of toy that runs circles under your grandmother’s Christmas tree and turns it into art.

For Blue-White weekend, the club will open its display to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday in Pinchot Hall.

The group has been meeting for 60 years, with class after class of students finding a common bond in their love of model trains.

There are bridges and buildings and trains of all kinds. The scenes include a Nittany Lion shrine, a miniature chocolate factory, a tiny steel mill, a brewery and more — a kind of transportation-themed diorama of places found all over Pensylvania and beyond.

The event is free, but visitors must be escorted into the building. Call 867-1361 from Pinchot’s doors to reach a club member.

Don’t wait too long. These trains run on time, but being conducted through the tour is a rare treat.