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Choo Choo Barn facts for kids

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The Choo Choo Barn, Traintown U.S.A. is a 1,700-square-foot (160 m2) train display in Strasburg, Pennsylvania that features over 150 hand-built animated figures and vehicles and 22 operating trains.


The Choo Choo Barn was born in 1945, in the basement of the Groff home on Franklin Street in Strasburg, PA. George Groff (the originator) had just returned from World War II, and was looking for a Christmas present for his two-year-old son Gary. He found a $12.50 Lionel train set, and he helped his son set it up. Within a few years, that simple set had taken over a large portion of the family basement. In the 1950s, the family opened their now very elaborate display up for townspeople and local school groups during the Christmas holidays.

In the early 60's, George and Florence needed some extra funds to help pay for college. George noticed a small township maintenance facility (more like a barn) that became available along Route 741, just to the west of the recently reopened Strasburg Rail Road. The Choo Choo Barn opened on Thanksgiving Day in 1961 with over 600 square feet (56 m2) of detailed landscaping, 6 trains, and 6 animated figures.

Over the next few years, the display continued to grow, as George added something new each year. In time, his children began to help out, from collecting tickets to adding their own ideas to the growing display. A gift shop was added to the front of the building, and a picnic grove was constructed to the west of the parking lot (free tickets to the grove were available to all Barn visitors).

When the elder Groffs retired in 1979, their youngest son Thomas, and his wife Linda, became the new owners, builders, and operators of the Choo Choo Barn. This train layout has grown into an attraction for all ages and all groups. The display continues to re-open each spring, and Tom Groff with his team continue to update the display every year.

Signature scene depicts fire truck leaving the firehouse to arrive at a burning home. The firemen disembark the truck to rush to the aid of the homeowners, squirting real water on the fire. Their mission is accomplished, and they happily return on the truck to the fire station.

This display pays homage to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania - with miniature replicas of The Willows Restaurant, Dutch Wonderland amusement park, the Strasburg Railroad, and a scale version of the Groff family home.

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