Model train Christmas village

Bob’s been in touch with is model train Christmas village:


Here are a few photos from our Department 56 Christmas villages with trains.

The first is North Pole Village, then Dickens Village (that’s the John Bull from Lionel Historic Rail) followed by Christmas in the City Village.

The villages are all behind glass (final photo) and over the years nothing has made us happier than having to clear tiny finger and nose smudges left by children (a few over 80) laying on the floor and gazing thru the lowest level of glass (home for the North Pole—Santa’s— Village) to watch the trains and animation.

The collection includes every item Department 56 has made over the years (more than 1,000 ceramic buildings plus many more accessories and residents) plus O gauge trains and has finally outgrown the space we have.

So the entire collection of trains and buildings is moving to the Colorado Model Railroad Museum in Greeley, Colorado where, as soon as their fundraising covers construction of an expansion to house the buildings with lots more trains, everything will be on display year-round.

As the Colorado Model Railroad Museum executive director often says, “what goes together better than Christmas and model trains?”


model train Christmas village

model train Christmas village

model train Christmas village

model train Christmas village

“I don’t have a Christmas layout, but I sure have a Christmas memory.

It was 1956; I was 8 years old. We had opened all our presents, or so I thought. I was quite happy with my “haul”. Then my mother said, “Oh, Bob, I think you missed one…” Well, of course, she had snuck an envelope under the tree with my name on it.

Inside was a bit of doggerel my Dad had written. It directed me to some location in the house (it was a biggish house: two full floors, plus a basement and attic). There was a wrapped box, containing the Lionel “Texas Chief”, along with another bit of doggerel, directing me to another spot. There I found another wrapped box, with the “B” unit for the Texas Chief.

This treasure hunt went on for awhile, until I had a whole train.

I said something like, “All we need now is a layout.” Dad smiled and took me into the dining room. There was a completed 4’x8′ layout he had secretly built in the basement over the past few weeks!

Some might complain that we should have had the experience of building it all together, but I was thrilled with the instant gratification of running trains right then and there. I had many hours of happiness with that layout for many years.

It also instilled a love of model railroading in me. I hung onto that whole set until both my parents passed away, and we cleared out the house. I brought it all back to NYC, where I now live, and eventually sold the Lionel to bankroll my new N scale layout, on which I have been working since I retired a couple of years ago.



Santa Special: There’s a lot of coal in those 5 hoppers, somebody must’ve been bad.

The D&RG is pulling a couple WP boxcars, returning to origin?

The WP is pulling special duty with Rio Grande rolling stock.

Reindeer must be in the stock car, kinda cramped as one car had to be taken out of service with a bad coupler.


A huge thanks to Bob for sharing his model train Christmas village, and to John and Robert for spreading the Christmas cheer.

Really enjoyed Robert’s story and old black and white picture – really does the capture the joy of Christmas.

Please do leave a comment below if you’d like to add anything.

That’s all for today folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And if today is the day you get started on your layout, the Beginner’s Guide is here.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

PPS More HO scale train layouts here if that’s your thing.

26 Responses to Model train Christmas village

  1. Bob , John and Robert have all contribute to make us all feel like it Christmas …Christmas `s past is something we all treasure …thanks for showing your happy memories ..Dangerous dave

  2. Michael Glass says:

    today is my birthday, I’m 66 years young,i have been a Model Railroder a long time, i love those pictures & the Christmas video 👍😊🎅🎄

  3. george zaky says:

    Bob , John and Robert:
    Thanks all.
    My S scale Polar Express is running around a small Christmas tree, chuffing away, conductor yelling, bell clanging, I just love the whistle, and with some music in the background just got me into the ” Spirit” and out of this Covid mood.
    Of course my morning coffee with Big Al- the kiddies pal- is an uplifting and beginning the day ritual.
    So many talented and great people sharing is an all year ” Christmas Spirit “.
    All be well and safe
    George from LI, NY

  4. Stephen E Fetzer says:

    My oldest cousin had a Lionel post war rig with lighted cars and, as I remember, a heavy engine and coal car. As a young boy I loved to visit them, especially at Christmas when for sure the train was circling their decorated tree.
    I waited 70 years for my own 8×8 layout, now enjoyed by my grand kids too. Merry Christmas.

  5. Richard Coerse says:

    I was recently visited by a young lad who wanted to see my N-scale layout. After he had played “engineer” for several hours he asked me a rather profound question. “What is the difference between toy trains and model railroads?” I told him that they both bring smiles and joy to the young and old alike. After all, you are eight years old and I am seventy years older than you but we are all just kids at heart.
    the ancient N-scale engineer

  6. Paul Nichols says:

    The Christmas train set is truly a part of Christmas. We had it when I was a kid and my children helped build it when they were younger.

  7. Bob Schardt says:

    Not a comment but an inquiry. Does anyone have any experience with the Noch wrinkle paper rock scenery? The video doesn’t give a close up look of the finished product and perhaps too easy to shape.

  8. This is stunning. How impressive and wonderfully done. Thank you for sharing this.

  9. Erick says:

    That really nice layout i would like to more.

  10. Gary M from Long Island says:

    Great stuff……nothing like Christmas and trains around the tree. My father bought me my first Lionel set when I was 9 years old. That set eventually grew into 11 sets over the years. I always loved trains and eventually got a job with the Pennsylvania Railroad; retired as a Freight Conductor. Over the years the Lionels eventually made it to the basement shelves. In 2018, I was helping my nephew’s son with his Lionel layout and got the bug to get back into model railroading; but did not have the room for my Lionel set so I went with HO scale. Still working on my Sunnyside Yards layout and recently gave all my Lionel sets to my brother for his grand children keeping them in the family. I wish Al and all the model railroaders out there a happy holiday season.

  11. Dan Hulitt says:

    Wonderful job, guys. Love you sharing.your stories and pictures. Once the. Craziness is past us maybe I can get to Greeley.

    Mn Dan

  12. Walt says:

    I remember my first train well. My dad built a complete Lionel 4′ x 8′ layout for my older brother. He never much cared for it so I naturally took it over.
    When I was 10 in 1960 I got my first HO Train set for Christmas. That was all it took. I rebuilt my dad’s entire layout in HO scale and mixed in a slot car set as well. That kept me busy for about 10 years then I went to college, military, and moved to California.
    I got away from it for about 50 years or so, but my wife is into Department 56 Christmas Village series so I am resurrecting my HO life to include Dept 56 and Hogwarts Express to boot.
    I am also using DCC for the first time!
    WISH ME LUCK, will keep you updated!

  13. Great video’s everybody merry christmas
    Bob from florida

  14. Size and detail doesn’t matter. What matters is if you are enjoying it!

  15. Thank you for sharing such wonderful memories!

  16. Bruce Young says:

    Interesting Department 56. I’ll say a few (42) years ago I worked at Sears on the Blvd in the big multi story warehouse and I remember the toy/ crafts department I worked in was dept 56. I recall they sold Tyco sets back then

  17. Greg says:

    Great pics. Brings back great memories. Safe Holidays

  18. Rod Mackay says:

    A model railway is for life, not just for Christmas!! Happy holidays all.


  19. Bob, I grew up on a farm east if Greeley, but left the area nearly 37 years ago. Living in Idaho now, but will be sure to visit the museum next time we go back to visit family. My wife has been collecting the Department 56 Snow Village since 1988. She has nowhere near the collection you have.
    Robert & John, love the stories and memories of the Lionel O27. My first train was a Marx O27 which Santa brought me in about 1962. That set is long gone, and I an modeling N-gauge.

  20. Mark T. Pianka says:

    Great Story Robert, I would have Kept that Lionel set and made a nice shelf,, Like to see that N gauge layout some day have a nice Christmas!!

  21. Neil Feder says:

    I have never seen or read about a green feather for Western Pacific RR. Does anyone have info in regard to this boxcar?

  22. robert dale tiemann says:

    i miss having my first train. really good memories. looks like you guys have a lot of good memories too.

  23. Don says:

    still have my Marx, trainset I got when I was 6 years old & it still runs to this day, my dad got it when he was a boy & gave it to me, it has a auto hauler, log carrier, box car with flipper on the side, caboose, coal car & engine made of metal. my dad is now gone & it is a memory of him I will have until I’m gone. Merry Christmas to all & the pictures above are all incredible.

  24. Rich B. says:

    Is this in say a basement or is it a museum? Those studio-56 pieces are so well detailed and look perfect for “O”. At least they used to with my much delinquent train of thought. Never say “never” as somebody has already thought of it.

  25. Brian Olson says:

    Thank you for sharing all these Christmas layouts, got my first one as a kid. Lionel of course! Still modeling today. Merry Christ to all!

  26. Bob says:

    Anyone remember a movie called the The Department Store? A lady was admiring a Christmas layout in the store and decided her grandson needed a train for Christmas. She laid her big overcoat sleeve on the track and the train ran right up her sleeve. Shoplifted that train no one the wiser.

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