Model railroad exhibit at Children’s Museum faces uncertain future

Model railroad exhibit at Children’s Museum faces uncertain future

LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) -The railroad exhibit is a major draw at the Children's Museum in Lake Charles--where those old and young are easily drawn into the miniature world.

Seven year old Patrick Bass watches the trains meander through the model community. "They are cool, and it's very, very cool. I like the trains a lot."

As they watch through windows, children enjoy interactive parts. With the touch of a button, “That's the horn and I like the airplanes right there."

The scenes are fictional, but include images of days gone by from the memories of model railroad club members like Mike Leger.

“The sawmill you see in front of me is indicative of how Lake Charles got its start. At one time, this area was loaded with sawmills,” said Leger.

The exhibit triggers feelings of nostalgia.

"America was built with the help of the railroads and so I think that has something to do with it. It's just one of those things that when you see a train it evokes memories of how things got started around here," said Leger.

Yet, the exhibit itself could become a memory. The Children’s Museum of Southwest Louisiana is moving to the new Port Wonder facility, expected to open on the Lakefront about two years from now. But the Railroad Club cannot afford the estimated $330 dollars a square foot to be part of it.

“Our cost would be well over $300,000 and our club cannot afford that kind of money. We're hoping that somebody can maybe step up and offer us a new home. We're hoping maybe we can get some corporate sponsors to help us offset some costs and maybe go with the museum or maybe get us a place to stay,” said Leger.

Leger hopes they can find a way or a new location, otherwise he says,"The cars and locomotives, we have boxes we'll just have to put all that stuff in and mothball it until such a time that we get another place or just go sell it."

And the club members are not the only ones who would hate to see the model trains go.

"Kind of sad," said Bass.

Anyone who may have an idea for saving the exhibit or want to join the model train club can call Phillip Leger at 337-764-0310 or James Clark at 337-802-4277 or Mike Leger at 337-263-4764. Or look for the ‘Lake Area Model Railroaders’ on Facebook.

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