The Great Train Story is one of the world’s largest HO scale model railroads display located in the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, the US. The 3,500 square foot model depicts the story of modern day rail transportation in a 3,550 km journey from Seattle, Washington through several plains states en route to Chicago, Illinois. With the help of corporate sponsorship, the museum’s objective has been to educate the public to the key role modern rail plays in our everyday world through this working, animated and interactive display that is both highly entertaining, and fascinating. The entertainment value has helped them considerably in achieving this objective by attracting an ongoing, very large draw. In fact, this display has been one of the museum’s most popular since it opened in November, 2002.
The layout features 192 custom models of buildings and landmarks including the Willis Tower, Chicago Board of Trade Building, and Union Station in Chicago; and Seattle’s Space Needle, Experience Music Project and King Street Station. The landscape between the two cities includes several natural features such as the Cascade range, Rocky Mountains, waterfalls and forests. Man-made highlights include small towns, tunnels, truss arch and truss bridges, a lumber mill, farms, grain silos, a fruit packing house, a coal mine, and a steel mill.
In the exhibit, Burlington Northern Santa Fe freight trains move raw materials with centerbeam lumber cars while hopper cars carry grain and Coal. Intermodal cars laden with shipping containers, and car carriers also transport finished products on freight train consists. Passenger operations include Amtrak, the Chicago Transit Authority’s ‘L’ and Chicago’s Metra Electric Line trains.
The Museum of Science and Industry is the largest science museum in the Western Hemisphere. Aside from the railroad model, the museum features a range of diverse and expansive exhibits including a full-size replica coal mine, a German submarine (U-505) captured during World War II, the first diesel-powered streamlined stainless-steel passenger train (Pioneer Zephyr), and the Apollo 8 spacecraft that carried the first humans to the Moon.