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Pittsburgh Miniature Railroad & Village


Pittsburgh Miniature Railroad & Village
Photo by Michael Orban. Courtesy Carnegie Science Center.
Take a walking tour of Western Pennsylvania in less than an hour with a visit to the legendary Miniature Railroad & Village at the Carnegie Science Center. Hundreds of intricate replica buildings and animated scenes bring Pittsburgh and the surrounding counties to life as they were at the turn of the 20th century. The Miniature Railroad & Village is one of Pittsburgh's premiere holiday attractions for good reason, and welcomes more than 365,000 visitors each year.

What to Expect:

The Miniature Railroad & Village is located at the Carnegie Science Center on the North Shore of downtown Pittsburgh. The layout is 83' by 30' in length and encompasses an entire room. Four Lionel trains and one trolley can operate at the same time on five tracks. Over 22 electronics and software drive the display's miniature lights, animations and trains. Currently, the Miniature Railroad & Village exhibit features more than 250,000 hand-made trees, 98 animations, and dozens of models including Forbes Field, Luna Park, and the Sharon Steel Mill.

History of the Miniature Railroad & Village:

On December 24, 1920, Charles Bowdish was astounded to find 600 people standing in line outside his house in Brookville, PA -- waiting to see his exquisite, hand-crafted railroad display and miniatures. Charlie continued to welcome people into his home to view the display each holiday season for 34 years, until a flood forced him to find a new home for it. In 1954, the Miniature Railroad & Village was moved to a more permanent home in Pittsburgh at the Buhl Center for Popular Science, now part of the Carnegie Science Center on Pittsburgh's north shore.

Attractions & Displays:

Many of the structures and replicas in the Miniature Railroad & Village celebrate Pittsburgh's industrial past from the 1880s to the 1930s, including coal mines, saw mills and train stations. In addition, many specific replicas of favorite historic Pittsburgh structures and attractions can be found throughout the display, including:
  • The old Indiana Courthouse
  • The original Allegheny Observatory
  • The first Point Bridge that connected the South Side to Pittsburgh (demolished in 1927)
  • Rachel Carson Homestead
  • Searight's Tollhouse
  • Oil Well similar to Drake's Well
  • Emmanuel Episcopal Church, North Side
  • Sharon Steel Mill
  • Fort Pitt Blockhouse built in 1764
  • No. 9 Firehouse built in 1885
  • George Westinghouse "Castle"
  • Heinz Factory House
  • Mister Rogers' House
  • Gobbler's Knob and Punxsutawney Phil
  • Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater
  • Forbes Field ballpark built in 1909
Each year new attractions are added to the Miniature Railroad & Village by the staff at the Carnegie Science Center. Generally, they debut each November in time for the holiday season. Recent additions include an operating railroad yard, roundhouse and turntable, trestle and tunnel, Luna Park archway and a Gulf oil station (did you know the world's first drive-through gas and service station was opened on the corner of Baum Boulevard and St. Clair Street in the East Liberty section of Pittsburgh in 1913?), all added in 2006, a beautiful replica of the beloved Forbes Field ballpark added in 2007, a scale replica of Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater in 2009, and Manchester Farm in Avella, added in 2011.
New for 2011 is a reconstruction of Manchester Farm in Avella, a farmhouse continuously owned and lived in by the same family since 1815.

Planning Your Visit:

The Miniature Railroad & Village is located on the second floor of the Carnegie Science Center and is included as part of regular Carnegie Science Center admission. It is open year-round, closing only for a maintenance period each fall beginning at the end of September and running through the day after Thanksgiving. On Black Friday, each year's new model is debuted. The most popular time for the Miniature Railroad and Village exhibit is from the Friday after Thanksgiving through the holiday season.

See Carnegie Science Center for current information on hours, admission and directions.

Carnegie Science Center
One Allegheny Ave.
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15212
(412) 237-3400

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