DANVILLE, Va. — The Danville Science Center is going full steam ahead to host its annual model train show, Old 97 Rail Days.
The science center invites locomotive aficionados, science lovers and history buffs alike to jump aboard for the 18th event, which takes place Saturday, Sept. 25, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, Sept. 26, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Guests will enjoy a diverse collection of more than a dozen individual N-scale model train modules set up to make one giant layout. Hobbyists construct their personal modules to an international standard invented 48 years ago, thus allowing smaller scenes from many different builders to be connected and operated together.
Families will get an up-close look at tiny towns and intricate scenery – everything from the cows in fields to the loads on the boxcars are to scale. Old 97 Rail Days will also feature a recently updated layout created by the Eastern N Lines Model Railroad Club that showcases multiple trains running simultaneously through miniature landscapes in the Pepsi Building.
“There’s no better place to attend a train event than a working train station!” said Danville Science Center Executive Director Adam Goebel. “This is a tradition that draws people from across the surrounding regions. They enjoy learning about advances in technology and engineering in model railroading, but also appreciate the incredible craftsmanship that goes into the displays.”
Old 97 Rail Days is a commemorative event, happening near the anniversary of the Old 97 express train crash in September 1903. The science center is located approximately one mile from where that tragic accident occurred, and hosted the first event in 2003 to honor lives lost during that incident. Its science station will feature a 5-by-5 miniature stationary model of the Old 97 wreck scene created by a local N-scale model train club to help guests learn about the historic moment.
Guests can also stroll along full-size historic train tracks outside the Science Center and explore a fully restored 1948 Norfolk and Western caboose, and guests ages five and under can experience the train-themed “Crescent Crossing” early learner exhibition.
In addition to enjoying the train displays in the Old 97 Rail Days show, guests can explore the new exhibits in the fully reimagined Science Center. After being closed for seven months, in late 2020, the 26-year-old organization opened two new major galleries and the J.T. - Minnie Maud Charity Trust Creativity Lab to encourage guests to discover their world in unexpected ways. In addition to being able to explore the new “Go!” and “Water” exhibitions, the touring exhibition “Young Architects” is currently on display.
“For guests who haven’t explored the Science Center since it reopened last year, this is the perfect time to get on track!” Goebel added. “Not being able to host the event when the Science Center was closed for enhancements makes the anticipation even greater for this year’s event.”
Old 97 Rail Days is included in exhibit admission, which is $9 for adults, with a $1 discount for guests ages 4-12 and 60+. On Saturday, Sept. 25, only, gallery admission is 50 percent off. For more information, visit dsc.smv.org or call 434-791-5160.
The Danville Science Center is the Dan River Region’s educational and cultural anchor, inspiring more than 50,000 guests each year. Located in the Danville Passenger Rail Station since 1995, and expanding into the Southern Railway building in 2005, the Science Center offers curious guests the chance to explore STEM concepts and skills with interactive exhibits, hands-on activities, live demonstrations, touring exhibitions, breathtaking presentations in the Digital Dome Theater and special events.
Adventurers, investigators and explorers of all ages can stimulate their interests, get inspired and connect to the world around them. The science center is a satellite location of the Science Museum of Virginia located in historic Broad Street Station in Richmond.
Learn more at dsc.smv.org.