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One theme he has researched is the custom of putting trains under the Christmas tree, and Mr. Morrison says it could have started right here in Pennsylvania. In the mid-1700s, a group of Protestant Christians called the Moravians settled in the Lehigh Valley in Bethlehem, where they set up elaborate Nativity scenes in their homes called "putzen" -- the German word for decoration around the holidays.
The displays were enlarged year after year to include biblical scenes not captured as often, such as the exchange between King Herod and the three wise men after Jesus was born, Mr. Morrison said. In the mid-1800s, he said, people created villages at the base of the tree with items such as model farmhouses fashioned after their own dwellings set atop burlap or moss.
Cast-iron toys emerged toward the late 1800s in the form of homes, carriages and fire stations. When cast-iron trains came on the scene around 1880, Mr. Morrison said, they, too, earned a presence under the tree. Before Lionel manufactured the first beloved electric toy train at the turn of the century, Pennsylvanians already were adorning their displays with cast-iron and wind-up ones.
originally posted by: schuyler
There is a group local to my area that has devised a uniform 3' x 8' plywood section (one foot cut off a standard 4 x 8) that has the track entrances and exits at precise places on the edges of the boards. There is one standard for straight-a-ways and one for corners. This allows any number of sections to be used in a "flash mob" rail set up that can be assembled anywhere there is space. They tend to show up at malls or library meeting rooms for a week at a time to run their systems. These are mostly retired Navy guys who have been stationed all over the world, so their boards tend to reflect models of, say, a hotel in the Philippines on one board with a building in Naples, Italy on the next. Since it is a "mix 'n match" system you can never tell what configuration they will come up with next.
originally posted by: TheConstruKctionofLight
a reply to: Mianeye
I cant thank you enough! Must include as a stopover next trip to Europe!