Bowdish Model Railroad

Jefferson County History Center

Bowdish Model Railroad Display

Operating on the last Saturday of every month (February-October) 12:00 – 3:00 PM

An intriguing story about creative genius, Charles Bowdish, and his miniature model railroad display is one of the most popular exhibits at the history center. The railroad display is viewable year-round, operating on the last Saturday of every month (February-October) or during special events such as Brookville Laurel Festival and Light-Up Night. Check out our Events Calendar.

Thousands of people in Western Pennsylvania remember visiting Brookville between 1919 and 1955 for a special Christmas Treat.  They arrived by car and bus to visit the Bowdish home and sometimes waited in long lines to see Charles’ Christmas train display.

In 1954 and 1955, Charles created his last exhibits in Brookville and moved his work to the Buhl Planetarium in Pittsburgh which today is the Carnegie Science Center where the exhibit today includes many new miniatures representing Western Pennsylvania.

The JCHC Bowdish Model Railroad Exhibit has been built in the Bowdish-style.  Many of Charles’ original building models and animations are included on the layout which represents many buildings from throughout Jefferson County. Other miniatures are built by the Bowdish Volunteer Crew.

Every year, the JCHC celebrates his birthday with the Charles Bowdish Birthday Bash on the last Saturday in February. The exhibit is redesigned by the Bowdish Volunteer Crew 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 will be running down the tracks and whistling through the tunnels, entertaining kids of all ages, both young and old.

Today a dedicated group of volunteers operate and maintain the Bowdish Model Railroad Exhibit. Volunteers are always welcome to help build, maintain and run the trains and animations. The only requirement is your interest!   For more information contact the History Center.