Video: 'Hayes Train Special' model train display open through Jan. 7

The “Hayes Train Special” has arrived and is chugging through a Victorian holiday winter wonderland through Jan. 7 at the Hayes Presidential Library & Museums.

A holiday tradition at the Hayes Presidential Library & Museums since 1994, the display winds through a landscape that recalls the days of President Rutherford B. Hayes.

Each year, volunteers and staff spend weeks setting up the layout with different features for this 12-foot-by-24-foot display. Visitors can blow the train whistle, run the Ferris wheel, lower the crossing gates and more with interactive buttons.

This year, the display has six trains and two trolleys that wind through tunnels and around picturesque scenery designed by volunteer Lynn Wright. Wright spend several hours a day for a couple weeks carefully choosing the design for the Victorian holiday village, setting up each piece and putting snow throughout the layout.

Volunteers Ray Markwith, Tom Reineck and Bill Spears put together the train tracks and electrical system.

Additionally, the exhibit this year includes historic photos of President Rutherford and First Lady Lucy Hayes traveling by train and historic photos taken of local trains and depots by Sandusky photographer Ernst Niebergall.

The “Hayes Train Special” has been a favorite of kids and adults, and some families come each year to see it.

The display started when Dana Lamberjack, a high school student from Findlay, raised money to buy a train and track to put under a Christmas tree in the Hayes Home for her Children of the American Revolution project.

In the following years, the train display moved to the museum. Lamberjack’s advisor, Marjorie Knight, and her husband, Gordon W. Knight, came from Columbus to set up the display and donated items to add to it.    

Gordon has since passed away, but the Gordon W. Knight Family continues the tradition by co-sponsoring this exhibit with Croghan Colonial Bank. 

Admission to the “Hayes Train Special” is included in the price of a regular museum ticket. Members are admitted for free.

At the end of the holiday season, visitors can get help and advice for sprucing up their model trains at the Model Train Clinic from 1 to 4 p.m. Jan. 6. Veteran model train hobbyists lead the clinic. Admission is $2 or free with the purchase of a regular museum ticket. 

The Hayes Presidential Library & Museums is America’s first presidential library and the forerunner for the federal presidential library system. It is partially funded by the state of Ohio and affiliated with the Ohio History Connection. The Hayes Presidential Library & Museums is located at Spiegel Grove at the corner of Hayes and Buckland avenues.

For information, call 419-332-2081, or visit Like HPLM on Facebook at and follow on Twitter at @rbhayespres and Instagram at rbhayespres.