For its 13th holiday season, the Eiteljorg Museum’s Jingle Rails showcased the American West in a whimsical fashion.
Created by the team at Applied Imagination, the G gauge display featured miniature depictions of downtown Indianapolis along with landmarks of the western United States. Such features included Lucas Oil Stadium, Monument Circle, the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone National Park, the Golden Gate Bridge, Mount Rushmore and more. These features were made from all-natural materials like tree bark, roots, pine cones, and honeycomb. There was even an “I spy” hunt that children and families could complete by finding all of the landmarks and other “Easter eggs.”
It took Applied Imagination and museum volunteers about three and a half days to set up the display. While the spectacular landmarks awed the crowds, the trains traversed an impressive 1,200 feet of track. There were seven loops of track, and one train ran on each loop. The power was a mix of steam and diesel locomotives from all eras that operated in the west. One famous example was a Santa Fe F7 diesel locomotive and matching streamlined passenger cars. I spoke with volunteer and model railroad enthusiast Andy Ball. He said that he calculated that the Santa Fe F7 travels an average of over 100 miles per season. Andy also mentioned that the diesel engines that they operate will typically run all season with little issue, but the steam locomotives have to be replaced throughout the season. The trains operated on rail power alone, no batteries, and there were feeders every six to eight feet of track. Overall, Andy said the trains are quite reliable. The main job as a volunteer, he stated, was keeping the trains running and hands off the tracks.
The Eiteljorg Museum’s Jingle Rails operates from November to January, throughout the holiday season. For more information, visit eiteljorg.com/jinglerails.