The story of the creative genius of Charles Bowdish and his miniature and model railroad creations is one of the most popular exhibits at the JCHC. The model railroad is viewable all year round, but only runs on the last Saturday of every month.
Every year, the JCHC celebrates his birthday by redesigning the display to keep it fresh and entertaining for visitors. You never know what you'll get to see in this display! Admission on his birthday is free and the trains are running. This event usually takes place in late February or early March.
Bowdish served in the Army during WWI, where he developed a heart condition that resulted in an honorable discharge from service. After returning to Brookville, Bowdish began building detailed models of structures around his hometown.
On Christmas Eve in 1919, a guest at the Bowdish household asked to invite friends over to see the holiday model display. Word quickly spread and soon hundreds of Brookville locals were lined up outside Bowdish’s home.
Over the decades, word of Bowdish’s displays and their popularity reached throughout Western Pennsylvania. In 1954 the Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science in Pittsburgh offered to host his holiday display in one of the museum’s galleries. Visiting The Christmastown Railroad, later renamed The Miniature Railroad & Village, quickly became a holiday staple for families across Western Pennsylvania.
A redesigned and reconstructed Miniature Railroad & Village™ debuted at the Carnegie Science Center in 1992. Following the tradition of Bowdish, each scale-model replica was created with extraordinary attention to detail.
The JCHC is fortunate to have our own replica of many buildings and activities that occur at places around Jefferson County. Stop by to see what's changed!