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By Patrick J. Sullivan, Leader Staff Writer

If you don't have a train around your Christmas tree, you can visit a model train show at the state history museum in Tacoma that includes a Port Townsend man's special layout.

Steven Goldenbogen has created a tabletop G-scale layout with children in mind, and it's on public display Dec. 26-29 and Jan. 3.

Goldenbogen was introduced to model trains as a child, when his father built an HO layout for Christmas. About five years ago, Steve began collecting trains. He has smaller trains but prefers the larger scales.

"I run O-scale trains inside the house and LGB garden trains in the backyard," he said. "The bigger they are, the more fun they are."

How did he get invited to bring a layout to the Washington State History Museum? Last year, while visiting the glass museum in Tacoma, his family happened upon the train show staged during the holiday season inside the state museum.

He contacted the museum last January and pitched his idea, and was contacted in September with an official invitation.

The Model Train Festival is an annual event from Dec. 26 through Jan. 3. There are a variety of layouts and scales (N, HO, O, G) on display on each floor. There's even a ride-on steam train in the basement.

While most layouts showcase scale-modeling trains, Goldenbogen concentrates on childhood entertainment.

His layout features G-scale equipment running on 1-gauge track on a 5-by-15-foot table. It's designed to entertain kids (and parents) with a seek-and-find checklist. There are a number of figures hidden around the layout that must be found to get a prize. The trains run through a small village with a freight depot. The entire village is vintage Playmobil; the scale of the buildings matches the trains nicely, he noted.

Transporting his layout to Tacoma last weekend was an adventure because of the weather, but it's ready to go.

"It's great," he said of the many displays. "The museum itself is really nice, and the train show - you won't see more trains anywhere around. It's really fun."

People who enjoy railroad history can also take in a featured exhibit, "The West the Railroads Made," through Jan. 24. It's organized by the Washington State Historical Society and the Barriger Railroad Library of the St. Louis Mercantile Library at the University of Missouri, St. Louis.

The Washington State History Museum is located at 1911 Pacific Ave. in Tacoma. Call 253-272-3500 or visit the website at

Home in Port Townsend, Goldenbogen's living room has a three-rail O-scale layout good for Marx, Lionel or American Flyer. He's also getting into Faller (German-made) two-rail O scale.

This is his third year of having what's commonly known as a "garden railroad" in his backyard, and the first time he's had a chance to operate in snow. He uses brass track and it's electrified, but the moisture hasn't been a problem. He does keep his rolling stock indoors.

Steve acknowledges his wife, Elizabeth, for supporting his hobby. "She buys me my best trains."

Any doubt what's on his Christmas wish list?
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