Gregg County Historical Museum brings history to life this Christmas | Events


Every Christmas season, mini-trains roll happily along the tracks of the Gregg County Historical Museum, offering the occasional high-pitched whistle or puff of smoke as children’s eyes widen in wonder.

What better way to combat the winter cold than a warm family event filled with the spirit of Christmas? The museum will offer just that with its annual Living History Christmas event featuring community volunteer actors and the Loblolly Train exhibit.

“It’s a fun and interactive historical experience that brings our history museum to life,” said museum director Lindsay Loy. “It’s really fun for the kids.”

Taking place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on December 1, the Living History Christmas event is free to all attendees, with the museum decked out with Christmas trees and antique decorations. Kids of all ages, from 1 to 92, can watch a blacksmith, cowboy, conductor, engineer and more play their parts to entertain their audience and teach a thing or two, too.

“It’s one of the things we’re doing to kick off the Christmas season,” Loy said. “We spend four weeks decorating. It is a truly magical place to go.

The 40-foot model train layout by train enthusiast group Loblolly Railway is sure to grab attention, with its neighing horse, light-up dining cart, airplane and pop-up Santa for to name a few.

“There are bridges, towns, cities, a carriage, all kinds of things,” said train conductor and Loblolly member Fred Bauer. “We have old trains, new trains and try to mix it all up.”

Many years ago, Ann Smead and her husband donated their train to the Gregg County Historical Museum, inspiring the train exhibit. The interactive voluntary contribution came soon after.

“(The museum) has incorporated the Living History Christmas into (the layout) as a way to be interactive and hands-on for kids and to give them a different kind of museum visit,” Loy said.

Not only will children be able to see the train and volunteer exhibit, but they can also take part in activities such as Indian Caddo face painting and ornament making, with a train ticket given and punched at the entrance to bring him home. Bauer also plans to add a special train featuring “Cars 3” movie characters Lightning McQueen and the Radiator Springs gang.

“That’s the surprise I’m going to put on the plot this year for the kids,” Bauer said. “I think they’ll go crazy when they see it.”

But trains aren’t just for kids. Some of the sets are over 60 years old – sets that older patrons will remember from their childhood.

“The whole event brings back memories, creates new memories for younger people, and people come back every year to see it,” Loy said. “It’s become a Gregg County tradition.”

Following the Living History Christmas event, the Loblolly Model Train and Holiday Village exhibit will continue from December 4-22 at the museum. Normal museum hours and admission fees apply after December 1.

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Patrick F. Williams