Holiday tradition

Brimstone Museum will feature elaborate train display

Ginger Broomes

Christmas is a special time for the Southwest Louisiana O-Gauge Model Railroad Club members because they get to show off their annual toy train display, which features collectible trains they’ve had since childhood.

The display will be set up at the Brimstone Museum, 900 South Huntington St. in Sulphur, for Christmas Under the Oaks. Civic leaders will preview the display Nov. 30, and it will be open to the public every Saturday throughout December.

The elaborate, two-level layout is 34-feet long and 10.5-feet across and includes multiple dioramas. It will feature model reproductions of the original Union Sulphur Company complex, the Brimstone Village and other historic landmarks and buildings in Sulphur and Lake Charles.

“This is a huge project,” said Andy Buckley, founding member of the club. “It’s quite a layout.”

The 12 railroad club members — who include retired graphic artists, electricians and carpenters — help arrange the display. Most members have used the same trains they received during Christmas when they were children.

“We’ve got 1945 steam engines, a 1949 steam engine,” Buckley said. “There’s a Polar Express level for the kids, passenger trains … (the trains) have smoke, have bells and all the train sounds.”

The display also features sounds of the train “engineers” shouting out orders, along with five running railroad lines, Buckley said. A trolley is the newest addition.

Founded in 2017, the railroad club seeks to educate and entertain children and adults. Its charter calls for the layouts to represent the Southern Pacific, Missouri Pacific and Kansas City Southern rail lines.

“We need members who are going to help us,” Buckley said.

The railroad club has set up elaborate toy train displays every Christmas season in Southwest Louisiana, first at the Muller’s building in Lake Charles, and most recently at the Brimstone Museum. Last year’s display brought in 1,500 visitors.

“We’ve had people from as far away as Alexandria,” Buckley said. “And people come off of (Interstate) 10 just to see if our display is up yet.”

Club members also host year-round group showings for children’s programs at the Brimstone Museum. After Christmas, the toy train display can be visited year-round at the museum.

The club meets on the third Saturday of every month. Membership is $10 per month.

To become a member of the Southwest Louisiana O-Gauge Model Railroad Club, call Buckley at 274-6206 or email andybuckley1224@gmail.com.