Miniature railroad to roll in for Brookville Light-Up Night

From staff reports

The imagination of Brookville miniaturist Charles Bowdish will be celebrated when the Jefferson County History Center throws the switch on the miniature village and railroad at 5 p.m. Friday. The event is in conjunction with Brookville Light-Up Night activities.

Bowdish, an injured World War I veteran, began building model railroads in his home and in 1920 opened the display to family and friends. The display grew and he added animation over the years. Bowdish kept a guest register and by 1954, over 300,000 people had visited the Bowdish home for his Christmas show.

His display drew the attention of the Buhl Planetarium in Pittsburgh and the display moved there in 1954. When the new Carnegie Science Center was built, the miniature railroad was moved there and the Bowdish display became the nucleus of the famed miniature railroad and village.

Many of Bowdish’s original buildings still appear in that display. Through a special arrangement with the Science Center, several of the special pieces were loaned to the Jefferson County Historical Society for display in Brookville.

The display at the History Center contains numerous animations, some that fly, some that drive, several trains and some scenes that depict Santa Claus.

The 350-square-foot layout has over 200 feet of track. The buildings are based on Jefferson County’s history.

The History Center is on Main Street in Brookville.