Nothing says "holiday spirit" better than visiting a massive train display. Cincinnati's legendary Duke Energy Holiday Trains made the move to Holiday Junction at Cincinnati Museum Center last year, and have returned bigger and better for 2012.

The historic train display began in 1946 in partnership with the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. Cincinnati's collection is one of the largest portable models in the world, measuring 36.5 by 47.5 feet long and consists of over 300 miniature rail cars, 60 engines, and 1,000 feet of track.

The models are built-to-scale, and are traveling at actual speed for their size; an equivalent of 60 mph.

New to Holiday Juction is the observation tower: a platform structure allowing guests to watch the model train village from above.

"Brrr! I hope Duke Energy gets the power back on quick!"

In addition to the trains, Holiday Junction includes an extensive exhibit: Toys Through Time. From board games, dolls, and mechanical toys, guests can reminisce about unwrapping their favorite childhood Christmas toy from the 19th and 20th centuries. A sample of the items on display feature original Star Wars figures, a first-edition Monopoly set, historic Goldsmith dolls, and the innovative Tinker Toys.

During the visit, I had the privilege of meeting Jack Thompson, one of the original train masters from 1946. I remember watching him when I was a little girl as he conducted the trains in their former Downtown location. Today, he's often found in the Holiday Junction workshop repairing the motors on broken trains from the exhibit. Armed with pliers and a soldering iron, Jack has kept the trains chugging along for over 50 years.



Transporting a repaired rail car back onto the Holiday Junction tracks.
The original operating controls from 1946.
Inside the original operating control board. Jack mentioned that making repairs were difficult.
Inside the 2012 operating control board. Much more organized!

A Cincinnati tradition for folks of all ages, Holiday Junction is the perfect spot to relive your youth or start a new holiday memory. The best part - it's FREE through December 24! Visit this website to claim your ticket voucher:

Holiday Junction runs through January 6, 2013.
Mon - Thurs: 10:00am - 5:00pm
Fri - Saturday: 10:00am - 8:00pm
Sunday: 11:00am - 6:00pm