I took my 3-year-old son, John, a devoted fan of trains to see the Holiday Garden Railway at the Morris Arboretum last night. The railway is a year-round attraction, but when the miniature village and 1,300 feet of model railway track are lit for the holidays, taking it in at night is a special treat.

The Friday night event was for members, and many were there with their children who were all excited by the bustling model trains and the multi-colored holiday lights.

The whole railway display is a miracle of model making. According to the arboretum, the garden railway contains seven loops and tunnels with 15 different rail lines and two cable cars and nine bridges, including a trestle bridge that crosses a walkway overhead. At the trestle, a wooden footbridge takes guests across a miniature stream complete with mini waterfall.

The railway’s environment — the trees, mountains, hills and buildings — are made entirely of natural materials – bark, leaves, twigs, hollow logs, mosses, acorns, dried flowers, seeds and stones. The buildings are replicas of Philadelphia landmarks, including Independence Hall.

Of course, as neat as the models are, the trains are the star attraction here, as you can see in this short video.

The garden railway is included with regular admission to the arboretum. For more, see the arboretum’s website. It really is a must see if you have a little train fan in your family.

Pete Mazzaccaro