SOFIA stays on track at the USGS train show!
(Click on photo for larger version.)
The USGS Annual Holiday Train Display began in 1989 as a simple LGB layout in front of the Christmas tree set up in the main hallway of the Eastern Mapping Center on the second floor of the USGS National Center. By 1992 the exhibit had moved to its present location in the main auditorium. The show now includes operating layouts with HO, S (American Flyer), O (Lionel), and G (LGB). Many static displays related to railroads are also set up in the auditorium. Organizations such as the Federal Railroad Administration, Amtrak, the National Association of Railroad Passengers, Maryland Department of Transportation, and Operation Lifesaver have provided displays and informational handouts. The area outside the auditorium has exhibits highlighting the various missions of the USGS science disciplines (geology, geography, hydrography, and biology). A Community Night includes interactive displays and activities especially for kids. The train layouts have grown to the point that about 250 labor hours are required to set up and test the operating displays. A core group of 6-8 volunteers do the set up on the layouts, usually on the weekend before the display opens. About 10-15 individuals, many from outside USGS, man the exhibit during its four or five day run. The core USGS volunteers represent Mapping, Geology, and Office of Program Support. All of the layouts; buildings, track, cars, and locomotives, are owned by individuals who provide them for the display. The average attendance is about 10,000 during a four-day exhibit.
Note: Unfortunately, the Train Show is no longer hosted by the U.S. Geological Survey.