Sykesville to open model railroad fest

Carroll town celebrates its longtime connection to the history of trains

May 31, 2002|By Carolynne Fitzpatrick | Carolynne Fitzpatrick,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Celebrating its railroad past, Sykesville will hold the first Sykesville Model Railroad Festival from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. tomorrow .

The festival will feature model railroad layouts, food, entertainment and train vendors along Main Street. A trolley car will provide free shuttle service to the festival from the Warfield Complex off Route 32.

"For years, people in Sykesville have been fascinated about trains and models," said Margaret Spurlock, Sykesville tourism director. "The idea of the festival has been incubating for years."

No wonder. Railroading is in Sykesville's history.

Years ago, trains brought visitors and commerce to the southeast Carroll County town. Baltimore residents came to summer cottages that fronted on a boardwalk and overlooked the Patapsco River. Freight trains supplied the Main Street merchants, and factories and grain mills shipped wares on the rails.

The town has been working for years to revitalize its Main Street and transform itself into a railroad mecca. An 89-year-old switching station is being restored as a visitors center. Other attractions include a restored station that is a restaurant, a restored Pullman car and caboose that house a model railroad layout, and a miniature train, all within a block of one another.

In December, the Sykesville and Patapsco Railway, a group of railroad enthusiasts, brainstormed to create the festival. "Without their enthusiasm, we would never have been able to have the festival," Spurlock said.

On Main Street, many shops have train layouts in their windows. Layouts will be set up inside the Pullman car, caboose, St. Barnabas Parish Hall, Town House, St. Paul's United Methodist Church, Purkey's Toy Trains and the Gate House Museum.

Children can ride the Little Sykes Railway at the Gate House Museum, have their faces painted and take a walk through an antique train. Boy Scout Troop 716 will offer freight-car modeling kits.

Beginning at 10 a.m., live entertainment will be performed at the gazebo. The Dave Ashman group, Tom Vincent and Tony McGuffin are among those scheduled to perform.

For more information, call 410-795-8959 or visit the town's Web site at www.sykesville.net.

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