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All Aboard - Historic Emlenton Train Display Makes Final Run on January 28, 2024

This one of a kind, unique train display located at Donaldson Motors on, 714 River Avenue in Emlenton will make its final run on January 28, 2024.


What started in 1992 as a display built by the Emlenton Boy Scout Troop #41 and Scoutmaster Bruce Donaldson for the annual Old Fashioned Christmas in Emlenton will soon makes its final run in Emlenton.

For thirty years the display and its locomotives have been a fixture in the Emlenton community.

Bruce and the Scouts also had a display back in 1973 at J&K Enterprise during Scout week. Guy Shoup was the Scoutmaster. The scouts were also helping to build a display in the former Emil Long Furniture building when a fire caused an end of that project.

Bruce Donaldson, the mastermind and engineer behind the scenes looks back on his thirty one years and all who helped with the display which has been visited by thousands of people. The sign in book has names from all fifty states and Washington D.C., plus eighteen countries around the world. Over 10,500 have signed Bruce’s book, but only about one in five ever signed the book.

The first years plywood was loaned by Joe McNany and returned with no nail holes, everything was taped on and the streets were made from poster board paper donated by John Dreher, owner of Linmas Drugs.

The train display made its stop for two weekends in the Emlenton Boro building in Dec. 1992 and 1993. In 1994, the display started its month long running at Donaldson Motors. Bruce and company have used over 250 rolls of Scotch tape, 160 black poster board paper, 30,000 staples, 50 cans of spray paint, 90 oz of Elmers glue, 30 bottles of tree coating, and over 300 batteries.

Over 175 locomotives and 150 trains have now been retired from the tracks. Switch and terminal tracks have also worn thru over 30 transformers.

Bruce is thankful for the many donations of train items and railroad books from over fifty people who have donated and taken an interest over the years.

A special thanks to Chuck and David Stowe for the start of the first mountains and to Kevin Bikert for the big supply of scale trucks and cars on the layout.

Bruce would also like to give a big thank you and shout out to his father Bob Donaldson for the use of the showroom until his passing in 2011. Bob enjoyed visiting people and telling stories about his 70 years in business. And to his family, who got things rolling with his first train in 1968 to the years of train items for Christmas, even 2023.

A big thank you to The Progress News and Dave Staab for the thankless time and support for the local event. The train display will return bigger than ever in North Carolina along with my thousands of toys and my hometown history.

The main HO Scale train display covers over a 32’ x 20’ area and features many current and past standing business in Emlenton. Stop by and check out the can you find list of items!

If you would like make a visit and see the train display it will be open on Saturdays and Sundays from 1 pm to 5 pm. Groups can arrange other viewing times by calling 724-867-2293.

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