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KEEP THE TRAINS ON TRACK!

Miniature Railroad and Village® 100th Anniversary

Since 1919, the Miniature Railroad and VillageŽ has delighted millions with its handcrafted replicas of regional favorites like Forbes Field, Isaly's, and Fallingwater. The story of the Miniature Railroad is our story: a celebration of the people, places, and innovations that make our region something to be proud of. Now, after 100 years of delighting train enthusiasts of all ages, we are writing the next chapter of that story by undertaking a campaign to celebrate the Miniature Railroad by implementing the significant repairs and updates that the exhibit so richly deserves. We invite you to come aboard and help us engineer another century of memories!

GIVING LEVELS AND BENEFITS

Give $10

You'll receive a commemorative Miniature Railroad and Village postcard.

12 backers

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Give $25

You'll receive an On Track guide, featuring a comprehensive map of the display and article about its latest additions, and a commemorative Miniature Railroad postcard.

Limited
31 backers

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Give $50

You'll receive a vintage track piece from the Miniature Railroad, an On Track guide, featuring a comprehensive map of the display and article about its latest additions, and a commemorative Miniature Railroad postcard.

Limited
44 backers

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Give $100

You'll receive a pair of playfully patterned 100th Anniversary train socks, a vintage track piece from the Miniature Railroad, an On Track guide, and a commemorative postcard.

Limited
42 backers

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Give $250

Witness the unveiling of the updated display! You'll receive an invite to the 100th Anniversary Celebration in Fall 2020, where you'll be the first to see the renovations to the train display, hear from the curator of historic exhibitions, and enjoy refreshments and entertainment. You'll also receive a pair of 100th Anniversary train socks, a vintage track piece from the Miniature Railroad, an On Track guide, and a commemorative postcard.

Limited
9 backers

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Give $500

Bring the magic of the railroad into your home with a holiday ornament crafted in the Science Center's BNY Mellon Fab Lab! You'll also receive an invite to the 100th Anniversary Celebration in Fall 2020, where you'll witness the unveiling of the updated display, hear from the curator of historic exhibitions, and enjoy refreshments and entertainment. In addition, you'll receive a pair of 100th Anniversary train socks, a vintage track piece from the Miniature Railroad, an On Track guide, and a commemorative postcard.

Limited
2 backers

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Give $1,000

Become a part of the Miniature Railroad! You'll get one (1) custom miniature figure, painted in your or a loved one’s likeness, that will be placed in the railroad for 10 years. You'll also receive a printed map with the location of your figure so that you can show family and friends! In addition, you'll receive a holiday ornament crafted in the Science Center's BNY Mellon Fab Lab, an invite to the 100th Anniversary Celebration in Fall 2020 where the display will be unveiled, a pair of 100th Anniversary train socks, a vintage track piece from the Miniature Railroad, an On Track guide, and a commemorative postcard.

Limited
11 backers

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Give $2,500

You and a loved one can become a part of the Miniature Railroad! You'll receive two (2) custom miniature figures—painted in your or a loved one’s likeness—that will be placed in the railroad for 10 years and a printed map with the location of your figures. You'll also receive a Miniature Railroad 100th Anniversary Book, featuring full-color photographs, archival materials, and the complete history of the railroad. You'll also enjoy an honorary conductor experience with Patty Everly, curator of historic exhibits at the Science Center, and you'll have the chance to go behind-the-scenes in the workshop.

In addition, you'll receive a holiday ornament crafted in the Science Center's BNY Mellon Fab Lab, an invite to the 100th Anniversary Celebration in Fall 2020 where the display will be unveiled, a pair of 100th Anniversary train socks, a vintage track piece from the Miniature Railroad, an On Track guide, and a commemorative postcard.

Limited
2 backers

GIVE NOW >


A model of Frank Lloyd Wright’s famous Fallingwater

The Difference You Can Make

By supporting the Miniature Railroad's 100th Anniversary, you will honor the deep connection our community has to its past, present, and future by ensuring the sustainable upkeep of one of Pittsburgh's most beloved historical exhibits! To keep the memories of the past and encourage new ones, your gift to the railroad will refresh the galleries with new carpeting, fresh paint, updated signage, a new entrance video, and LED lighting. Once the project is completed, you'll enjoy motion-activated digital text panels and you'll be able to step into the history of the railroad through the digitization and publication of the Miniature Railroad's expansive 100-year-old archive, featuring photos and letters from creator Charles Bowdish. The project also includes the publication of a limited-edition centennial book detailing the history of the exhibit, its models, passionate caretakers, and never-before-seen photographs. And, as a thank you gift, you'll receive fun Miniature Railroad-inspired benefits while supplies last!


Locomotive

Campaign Updates

April 27 -- Thank you to our donors who have taken us past our $30,000 goal! Your investment allows the Miniature Railroad to continue to chug along into visitors' hearts for years to come.

March 13 -- We're incredibly grateful: Thanks to so many generous donors like you, we've reached nearly 70% percent of our goal. And with 10 donors giving $1,000 or more, we're adding 11 new figures to the railroad!

March 3 -- In just a few days, donors from across the Pittsburgh region have already contributed $5,480 toward the Miniature Railroad and its future—that's nearly 20% of our goal! We're excited and humbled by the support of our community.

February 26 -- This just in: Now through March 6, every gift to the Miniature Railroad will be matched dollar-for-dollar up to $15,000 thanks to a generous donor.

 


The entrance to Luna Park

The History of the Miniature Railroad and Village

On Christmas Eve 1919, Charles Bowdish created the first display of the Miniature Railroad & Village® in his home in Brookville, PA to entertain the guests at his brother's wedding. The display grew in popularity with hundreds of thousands of people—including school children arriving by busloads—flocking to see it every holiday season. After 35 years, and no more space to accommodate the growing display and large crowds, Bowdish transferred the display to Pittsburgh's Buhl Planetarium. In 1992, the Miniature Railroad moved to its permanent home in the newly created Carnegie Science Center.


Cement City in Donora, PA

During its life at the Science Center, the exhibit has grown by 60% and is put on display year-round, bringing joy to generations of visitors. New models are added annually, each crafted with great attention to historical accuracy and intricate detail. Today, up to five trains and a trolley weave through streets and farms, over rivers and bridges, and through tunnels in an enormous 2,300-square-foot, four-season landscape with hundreds of animations that bring this sprawling exhibit to life. The Bijou Dream Nickelodeon theater, Cement City, Allegheny Observatory, Klavon's Pharmacy, Crawford Grill, Forbes Field, and Isaly's Dairy Store can all be spotted amongst hundreds of houses, cars, trucks, animals, trees, and people. The Monongahela Incline glides up and down a steep hillside overlooking the original Primanti's restaurant, while hot air balloons rise and fall over Rodgers Field airport, across the river from the Sharon Steel Mill. A tiny Punxsutawney Phil emerges to see his shadow just on the opposite corner of the entrance to Luna Park as the carousel lights up and the Miniature Railroad switches from day to night. It's a magical sight for people of all ages and backgrounds.


Primanti Bros. model, based on the original Strip District location

The Miniature Railroad, however, is more than just a beautiful exhibit; it is a living, breathing story of our region's engineering ingenuity that is painstakingly cared for by Patty Everly, the Science Center's Curator of Historic Exhibits. To build these remarkable models, Patty, along with her team of dedicated staff and volunteers, conduct extensive archival research and outreach. All the trains and replicas are recreated on “O scale”, a scientific modeling system that translates to 1/4 inch per 1 foot. The staff also works whenever possible from original blueprints and collaborates closely with community members to accurately represent the places that are important to them.


The Crawford Grill

For the thousands of people that visit the Miniature Railroad every year, the exhibit's animated and historic narrative keeps both our community's and visitors' personal memories alive. We welcome you to join us in laying down the tracks that will allow the Miniature Railroad to thrive for another 100 years, so that new memories can continue to be made.