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Travel with Bennett-Watt and discover the Lionel electric trains visitors center in Chesterfield, Michigan, where you can ...
see the interactive miniature train exhibits.
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Visit the Lionel Center in Chesterfield Michigan
Welcome to Lionel Visitor’s Center. This is a Visitor’s center that was put together by a lot of Lionel employees, friends, families. It was done all volunteer, it was after work in our weekend we had a lot of fun putting it together and now we have a lot—a lot of fun showing it.
The Lionel Visitor’s Center was constructed in 1990. One is when it started it on the day after Labor Day. We completed it in 1992. In February we opened it out and we average any work from 18 to 22,000 guests per year and we have an awful lot of fun in here. First of all we have a smaller 6 by 8 layout which is for the children. It has four loops of trains, a couple buttons on there where some animated accessories or our carnival rides and things like that and then once you leave the small visitor’s area—Children’s layout and you can come to our larger layout which is 14 and a half feet wide by 40 feet long we have ten trains running on four levels of trains.
The kids are a little bit noisy in here but we have a lot of fun, also it makes it very interactive because we have about 40 buttons and each point of the buttons will operate one of the accessories that are on the layouts we have switch men towers. We have trains we have—it is just numerous, it is a lot of fun. We had saw mills that actually take logs and cut it into lumber and that’s probably one of our most popular ones at the children’s stay in a line and us adults also just to make sure that we push all five logs through and all five boards come out.
Well one thing that we do show in here is we—Lionel’s history were a hundred and a four years old we wanted to show and have the public see that everything is very interactive. We’re running our walk around remote control, our command, some conventional locomotives and we just wanted to show in public how simple and easy it is to run the system and now everything is so interactive.
We will get people in here there are 60, 70, 80 years old and I guess such a smile on there face because they can remember the Lionel they trained they had when they were a kid and now they are able to afford one and have one there self or the person who comes in and says why we were not able to afford one back then but I have one now and it just brings out so much excitement in them. There is 16 trains running in the room right now, ten of them—the large layout four on the children’s layout and we have one around that Christmas tree which is, everyday is Christmas at Lionel.
We actually have four cameras located on this layout two of them are stationary. One is in the corner. It shows a view of the trains going by and exit, very realistic looking. One is an overview on that switch tower we have on the other side of the layout which shows a whole overview of the side that I can’t see and then we have one in our kit bash caboose it is a snow plow it shows the engineers view which is very impressive and I mean I like changing that one around a lot because that’s—you can put it on different tracks and see different things on how to change scenery and gives you different places to put scenery. Oh the history of Lionel really is one of the great American success stories. Joshua Lyle Cullen’s started the company in 1900 and he was who are you basic restless taperer and he’s stumbled upon something that it really was an accident of discovery. He had originally thought of bringing some motorized wooden displays, it would help sell a you know—miniature products that we put inside this Cordova cards. As it turns out customers were more interested in the displays themselves and not pretty much we get the first Lionel trains. It was not until 1905 that Cullen was started modeling his creations after real trains—and really a hundred years later, we are still making trains today.
You can not have a bad day when you are in the Lionel Visitor Center. If you have a bad day you come down here, it clears your mind for the more time you are in here getting interactive with the trains getting interactive with the accessories and like I said every time you come in here and you are doing tours it is all the smiling faces. You do not see too many grouchy people coming in here. If they are when they walk to that front door the smiles come command.