The grand opening weekend of the Smoky Junction Model Train Exhibit at the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center in Townsend starts today, Nov. 8, and continues Saturday and Sunday.
The exhibit will be open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday through Jan. 5.
New this year is the Smoky Junction Train Discovery Zone, a free hands-on children’s play area sponsored by the Blount Partnership.
“Our hands-on discovery zone with tables is where the kids can have free play. They can build their own track, they can play with what’s already there,” Logan Hull, events coordinator, said Thursday.
“It’s super cute, and I got to spend an entire day this week putting together train stuff. Luckily, I’ve got two little boys so I wasn’t completely new to the scene. I’ve put ’em together before.”
Members of the Maryville Model Railroad Club have spent hundreds of hours putting the Smoky Junction Model Train Exhibit together.
There’s the HO-gauge layout, with the small 1:87 trains, that makes up the largest exhibit and is based on what Townsend and Walland were like back in the day. The Kinzel Springs Hotel is added this year. The display depicts trains that ran from Walland to Townsend to Great Smoky Mountains National Park when the Little River Railroad operated in the early 1900s.
The O-gauge layout, 1:48 scale, is a winter wonderland scene with a snowy hillside and a train running through a holiday village.
The G-gauge train display, built to 1:24 scale, features a replica of the Heritage Center.
All three exhibits have operational trains.
Hours are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday, from noon to 5 p.m. and Sunday.
A boarding pass for the Smoky Junction Model Train Exhibit is included in the museum admission, which is $8 for adults and $6 for children 6 years and over and for seniors age 60 and older.
A boarding pass for only the Junction Model Train Exhibit is available for $4. Heritage Center members receive a free pass to the train exhibit.
The Heritage Center is between the Townsend traffic light and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park Entrance.