All aboard! Yale and the Eli Whitney Museum’s ‘Holiday Trains’

The annual "Holiday Trains" exhibition at the Eli Whitney Museum features locomotives manufactured by Yale alumnus A.C. Gilbert, which are maintained by Yale scientist  Walter Zawalich.
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It’s a New Haven area holiday tradition: The Eli Whitney Museum and Workshop’s annual “Holiday Trains” exhibit is running now through Jan. 17. The exhibit allows children to run the locomotives and trains themselves. Admission is free.

The exhibit features an elaborate landscape of towns, tunnels, and bridges, partly modeled on New Haven. The layout was created and is maintained by Yale’s own Walter Zawalich, a scientist at the Yale School of Nursing.

The model trains have a Yale association as well: They are unusual A.C. Gilbert “s-scale” engines and rolling stock from the toymaker’s American Flyer Trains series — many long out of production and collector’s items in their own right. Alfred Carlton Gilbert graduated with a medical degree in 1909 from Yale before going on to become a renowned toy entrepreneur, and creator of both Erector Sets and American Flyer toy trains.

The trains exhibit is open Saturdays 10 a.m.­– 3 p.m.; Sundays noon-5 p.m. It will also be open noon-5 p.m. Dec. 28-30. the Eli Whitney Museum is located at 915 Whitney Ave. (on the Hamden-New Haven line).

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