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Train display at local museum filled with magic and surprises

By Staff | Dec 3, 2015

BARB BARRETT/The Luminary Conductor Rob Mueller delights in telling the story of the Polar Express to Evelyn Crawley, 4, with the train exhibit he has created and donated to the East Lycoming Historical Society.

HUGHESVILLE – A magical moment can be captured when visiting the Polar Express train display at the East Lycoming Historical Society. Conductor Rob Mueller enjoys sharing his version of the lifelike three dimensional replica he has created of the actual beloved story of Chris Van Allsburg. This has turned into one of this season’s most authentic visual attractions. Mueller tells the story of how the Polar Express came to exist, and how it will captivate young and old alike for many more decades to come.

With its theme “I Believe”, Mueller describes the making of 381 elves made of beads and pipe cleaners and hand painted faces of ethnic backgrounds. The tree that has a moving Santa and sleigh has 500 twinkling lights. “Every window has a red bow, each hand tied on a toothpick,” as he proudly points to the count of 76. There are 12 herald trumpeters that announce Santa’s arrival on the sleigh, all this taken from the movie.

Mueller, who is a retired school teacher from East Lycoming School District, said he kept adding to the train exhibit over the past four years. This year he added an “out house” located near the illuminated waterfall.

“It continually needs tweaking,” he pointed out, “such as new light bulbs. There is so much detail here.”

Mueller donated the entire train exhibit to the East Lycoming Historical Society last summer. He said it takes over 8 hours to assemble it, and it is a “frame by frame” process. It is in a good spot now, well taken care of and appreciated by many. The museum keeps it in storage and it will be part of the Christmas season for the future.

12 herald trumpeters made of beads and pipe cleaners with hand painted faces were constructed to welcome Santa on the Polar Express train and 76 windows are adorned with handtied red bows.

Tom Crawley Jr. who graduated from Hughesville High School and now lives in Maryland came back to visit his family and brought his wife, Sarah and two daughters, Evelyn and Anna to see the exhibit. “We like to come here every year to see this,” he said. Toy tractors and a Victorian doll house are also on display.

Mueller says, “Though I’ve grown old, the bell still rings for me as it does for all of you to truly believe.”

The exhibit will remain open for public viewing this week until Sunday, December 6. Hours are 5 to 9 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 4, 1 to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday from 2 to 5 p.m. The trolley will be making stops along Main Street in Hughesville on Sunday and will make a continuous loop throughout the afternoon to enjoy local shoppes, restaurants and the museum. Horse and wagon rides are also available that afternoon.