Christmas train gardens are a holiday tradition in Baltimore, with many families enjoying the annual ritual of visiting one or more little village each year! According to the Fire Museum of Maryland, holiday train gardens are a centuries-old tradition brought over by German immigrants. They were the first to set up Christmas gardens, which were religious in nature and featured a manger scene with a small fence around it.
In the 1800s, people began adding small wooden trains around the outside of the fence that children could play with, and later, electric train sets took their place in the gardens.
Capt. Eugene Daly of Baltimore City’s Engine Co. 28 on Guilford Avenue was said to be the first in the area to set up a Christmas train garden in 1917 during World War I. Soon other Baltimore fire houses built gardens of their own, and they were popular until around 1939 when the fire department felt that too much time was given to building the gardens or the crowds of visitors were impeding their fire-fighting work.
Today, you can still find a local train garden at the Wise Avenue Volunteer Fire Company, which has one of the largest displays around. Here are some highlights from the Wise Avenue and other displays in our area, so get your caboose to one of these gardens before they’re gone until next year:
Wise Ave Volunteer Fire Company Christmas Train Garden
214 Wise Avenue, Dundalk, MD 21222
Open through January 5, 2020
Monday-Friday: 6 – 9 pm
Saturday & Sunday: 21 – 9 pm
Closed Christmas Day
The annual Christmas Train Garden at the Wise Avenue Volunteer Fire Company is new and recreated each year so you will never see the same display twice. Each year, the firefighters work really hard to bring the best train garden to Baltimore County, and they keep it going by donations from the public. The garden has grown in size over the years to its present size of 20 feet wide by 44 feet long, which makes it one of the largest temporary displays in the country.
Admission: $2 donation at the door for ages 7 and up. Parking is in the rear of the Fire Station.
For more information, go to http://www.wavfc.org.
Martinville Christmas Train Garden
Glenn L. Martin Maryland Aviation Museum
Martin State Airport Hangar 5, Suite 531, 701 Wilson Point Road, Middle River, MD 21220
Open during Museum hours Wednesdays through Saturdays, 11 am to 3 pm through January 11. Special Sunday Opening Jan. 5.
The Museum’s 6th Annual Martinville Christmas Train & Plane Garden includes a special holiday display of miniature planes and trains. In addition to the holiday garden, visitors can enjoy all the exhibits that the Glenn L. Martin Maryland Aviation Museum has to offer.
Admission: Adults: $5; Children 11 years of age and under: $3. For more information, go to https://www.mdairmuseum.org.
Dundalk Patapsco Neck Historical Society and Museum Train Garden
4 Center Place, Dundalk, MD 21222
Open Monday – Friday, 3 to 7 pm and Saturday and Sunday, 1 to 7 pm. through Sunday, January 5. Open 1 to 5 pm on Dec. 24, Closed Christmas Day and resuming operation on Dec. 26.
The annual holiday train garden at the Dundalk Patapsco Neck Historical Society and Museum Inc. features many beautiful sets each year. This season includes 13 operating tracks with 11 trains, one trolley and an SUV all riding the rails. This year’s layout also features all new scenes, plus an expanded HO section. Kids enjoy the scavenger hunt each year. Luminaria Night will be held on Friday, December 20 at 6 p.m. and features a visit from Santa, live music and thousands of candle-lit luminaria all around Dundalk. Free admission. For more information, go to http://dundalktraingarden.blogspot.com.
Highlandtown Train Garden
520 S. Conkling Street, Baltimore, MD 21224
Open though January 5 from 11am — 5pm. Open weekends Sat., Dec. 14 & Sun., Dec. 15 and daily Fri., Dec. 20 – Sun., Jan. 5. Closed Christmas Day.
The Highlandtown Train Garden, built solely by volunteers and housed in Engine House #41 in Baltimore City, is in its 11th year. Visitors will see replicas of the Southeast Anchor Library and the Mimi DiPietro Skating Rink, Bump and Go Trolleys, and also an entire platform featuring old industrial Highlandtown. Free admission. For more information, go to http://highlandtowntraingarden.com.
Fire Museum of Maryland Holiday Train Garden
1301 York Road, Lutherville, MD 21093
Holiday Train Garden & Santa Pictures
Train Garden is open Dec. 14, 21, & 27-30, 10 am — 4 pm
Free photos with Santa: Dec. 14 from 1 pm -3 pm.
Watch as O-scale trains wind through a 20th century town at the Fire Museum’s annual train garden. They have multiple trains in operation and feature local businesses, a “working fire,” and even a subway. Admission to the train garden also includes admission to the Fire Museum, so be sure to explore. Admission (includes entrance to museum and train garden): Adults $15; Seniors & Firefighters $13; Children (under Age 18) $7; Children (Under Age 2) Free. For more information, go to https://www.firemuseummd.org.
The Four County Society of Model Engineers Christmas Model Railroad Train Display
Town Mall of Westminster, 400 N. Center St., Westminster, MD 21157
Open now through January 5. Hours vary.
Bring the kids and friends to see realistic reproductions in HO scale by the model engineers. Free admission. For more information, go to http://www.fcsme.org/mikeb/FCSME-Holiday-Flyer-2019.pdf.
The Train Garden at the Shops at Kenilworth
800 Kenilworth Drive, Towson, MD 21204
Open Mon-Sat: 10am-8pm; Sun: 12pm-5pm
The annual holiday Train Garden is back and open during mall hours through January 12. The train garden features action-packed model trains, animations and favorite childhood characters. Free admission. For more information, go to https://www.theshopsatkenilworth.com/events/annual-holiday-train-garden/.