Travel Treasures Close to Home: Medina Choo-Choos

by Tom Reed
WMV Web News Cleveland
Story filed October 20, 2006

We may travel hundreds or even thousands of miles to visit a tourist destination, but we sometimes overlook the attractions in our own backyard. These may be in Greater Cleveland, elsewhere in Ohio, or in neighboring states. Here's another in a series of articles about such places by Tom Reed, a freelance writer who specializes in travel, and who has been writing about various subjects in our Reed's Read segment.

Model trains hold a special fascination for those of us who grew up in an earlier era. But even today "kids are still interested in choo-choos," says John Ormandy, founder of the Medina Toy and Train Museum.

The museum is upstairs from Ormandy's train and toy shop on Medina's public square, but is a separate non-profit organization staffed by volunteers. On the day we were there, one of the volunteers, Dwight Short, was operating the HO gauge layout. (HO is half the size of O gauge familiar to generations of Lionel enthusiasts.) Built to look like a Swiss mountain area, the layout consists of four tracks on three levels.

The European theme is not accidental. On display nearby are about 500 model train cars and locomotives, many of them products of Marklin, a German manufacturer.

The museum also has a collection of other toys. During our visit, the two young sons of John and Cindy Downs watched the operating layout, but spent more "hands on" time with other toys.

Ormandy says the museum attracts 10,000 people a year. The summer months and the holiday season are the busiest times. Admission is free, but donations are requested.

The museum is normally open seven days a week. But because it's staffed by volunteers there are some exceptions, so it's a good idea to call before you go. The phone number is (330) 722-1019.

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Copyright 2006 Tom Reed