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Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago IL

January 23, 2010

Big layouts are something we all (or most of us) dream about having.  The chance to run a train on our layouts from one major city to another with mountains, bridges, plains, rivers, small towns in between…. all of it sounds fantastic.

Museum of Science and Industry 1

The reality is that many of us don’t have the space for such a massive layout.  One place, however, does.  The Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, IL has a HO scale layout that reaches from Seattle, WA all the way across the continent to Chicago.  This massive layout occupies a whole gallery of the museum.

Museum of Science and Industry 2

Starting in Seattle, the layout is a massive undertaking.  Operating as a large loop with multiple trains running on at least three tracks, the layout takes some time to view.

As impressive as the layout is, I felt like it was anti-climatic.  As amazing as it is, the scenes didn’t feel “right” to me, and the sheer size makes it difficult to view properly.  Because of where it is located, the viewing distance is held back to the point that no detail is possible to see.  I felt more like I was viewing the scenes from a passing airplane (which may be the point since the gallery has aircraft displays overhead).



To spite my complaints, the layout is worth seeing.  It is simply amazing due to the size and scope of what was modeled.

In the same gallery, a major surprise was waiting for me, one that made the model railroad almost seem to vanish as soon as I saw it.

NYC 999…. The locomotive that ran 112.5 miles an hour in 1893.  The locomotive speaks for itself.

999 Front

NYC 999

999 Cab

The museum visit was well worth it.  Other models, exhibits, and demonstrations were amazing.  From my perspective, the railroad related portions of the collection were worth the trip.


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