Monday, May 16, 2011

Totally Texas -- Electrifying trains

Interurban Railway Museum
901 E. 15th St., Plano
The boys love anything large and noisy -- especially trains!  From the time my daughter's twins were still small enough to require a special bag -- called the diaper bag but actually packed with clothing changes, wet wipes, sippy cups and snacks -- to travel anywhere, their greatest delight was riding the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) trains.  When it was too hot to play outside and their mom needed some quiet and a chance to sit down and rest the diaper bag, we'd catch the train, preferably outside rush hours, and ride.  It didn't matter where.  DART allows children under age five to travel free (with some limitations) and the cost of adult tickets in the air-conditioned cars seemed a small price to pay for delighting little boys on a hot day.

And because they always wanted to know more about trains, we'd visit the Interurban Railway Museum (free even for grownups, although donations are appreciated).  The museum is located in Haggard Park near downtown Plano, a few steps away from a DART station.  A restored depot houses historical and scientific exhibits dealing with the Texas Electric Railway that ran from Denison to Dallas from 1980 until 1948.  There's a working model of the train system, and demonstrations dealing with generation of the electricity the trains used.  Grownups may need to give smaller kids a hand and some explanation of the process -- then watch as light bulbs light up.

Outside the depot, Car 360 demonstrates the combination of passenger and mail service the train system provided.  The museum's normal hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday, with preschool story time at 10:30 a.m. Fridays, and from 1-5 p.m. Saturdays.  However, because 2011 is the hundredth anniversary of Car 360, this coming Saturday, May 21, the museum will celebrate with special events from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.  Festivities will include trackless train rides and other activities for children.

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