A new show opening Saturday at the Napa Valley Museum celebrates railroading with a exhibition of 1,500 square feet of HO guage model railroad layouts from Coastal Valley Lines, along with a collection of railroad memorabilia. The show runs through Dec.16.

At the dawn of the 20th century, railroads capitalized on the nation’s prosperity with colorful brochures promoting luxurious passenger trains. The West was glorified as the nation’s wonderland. The establishment of America’s transcontinental railroad connected California to the rest of the country and contributed to the state’s social, political and economic development.

The smaller scale HO gauge models were developed in the 1930s when Depression-era budgets had modelers searching for a way to operate model trains in tight quarters. After World War II the popularity of HO exploded. Today, about 74 percent of models are in HO as model railroaders help recreate an earlier times with painstaking attention to detail and authenticity.

“People are fascinated by the important role railroads have played in the history and advancement of society,” said Museum President Renay Conlin. “Not only is model railroading educational, it’s a fun hobby.”

Napa Valley Museum, located on the grounds of the Veterans Home of California at Yountville, is open to visitors Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Admission to the exhibition is $5 for adults and $2.50 for children 15 years old and younger. For more information call 707-944-0500, ext. 111, visit the museum’s website at napavalleymuseum.org.

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