Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Hogwart’s Express to offer magical experience at Flat Rock Model Train Depot

Harry Potter fans will have the chance to climb aboard the most famous train in the magical world when the Flat Rock Model Train Depot and Museum opens to the public this weekend.
The museum will open for the season  from 1 to 4 p.m. Sept. 27. With that opening, train enthusiasts will be able to see a scene right out of the books and movies as the Hogwart’s Express rolls through Diagon Alley, the very place where a young Harry Potter buys all of his magical supplies before heading off to school each year.
Over the years, Leon Simeck and his wife, Pat, have visited train layouts across the country to find new ideas for their display.
“We’ve went to many train museums all over the country to see how they put up their displays,” Pat Simeck said. “Then we came back here and took our favorite parts and built them, and added our own twists. We have the best display of anywhere.”
The museum’s main display features American Flyer and Lionel trains winding past towns, a carnival, zoo, circus, farms, bridge, tunnels and mountains, among other attractions. Many of the attractions are designed to look like local attractions from around the region, while others just make for interesting scenes to drive a train past.
In addition to model train displays, the depot, 28700 Arsenal Road, features dioramas that run below the trains that depict important pieces of train history, and a few other scenes from history.
The train depot also has its Halloween display set up. Lights and sounds add special effects to the display, which will be up through the end of October.
Leon Simeck said members will be putting up their Christmas items at the beginning of November.
In addition to Saturday, the Halloween and Harry Potter displays will be featured from 1 to 4 p.m. Oct. 5, 11, 19, 25 and 26.
Christmas at the Depot will run from 1 to 4 p.m. Nov. 1, 8, 16, 22 and 29, as well as Dec. 6, 13, 20, 21, 26, 27 and Jan. 3.
Were it not for the Simecks efforts more than seven years ago, the museum never would have existed, and the building would have been torn down. Located inside an abandoned youth center in the city, only another nonprofit organization could have taken over the building.
Pat Simeck said the building was about to be demolished when they started the museum, which gave residents a place to celebrate railroad history, and saved the building.
Now, as funds allow, the building will be expanded, with plans to bring in larger pieces of rail history once the space allows for it.
Admission is $6 for adults, $5 for senior citizens and students and free for children 10 and younger.
Call 734-782-2786 for more information.
Contact Video Coordinator Dave Herndon at 734-246-0867 or dherndon@heritage.com. Follow him on Facebook and @NHDaveH on Twitter.

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