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Christmas in September offers train display

by Christina Nelson

Usually, Chuck Harris, “the train man,” and his wife, Marie, display their electric train collection around Christmas time. But this year they’ve decided to ride the rails in September.

“This is my gift to the community. It’s something we do and we enjoy doing it,” Harris said.

The Harrises have been displaying their trains for the community for 11 years. Last year the Harrises had about 5,000 visitors. He expects fewer this year because of the earlier date.

They decided to have the event a couple months earlier because December is too cold and some people can’t make it because of bad weather.

“I have the potential of running 25 trains at one time. I don’t normally run them all at once,” Harris said. “The two trains I had when I was 11 years old will be on display. I don’t run them, but they will be on display.”

Harris has been working on new additions to his train collection all summer. The display includes 1,300 feet of track in a 2,200-square-foot display area.

This year there will be a simulated lake with boats on it, more people, a street car and a new building in addition to his former collection which includes buildings from around Douglas County.

New displays include Reno’s Mapes Hotel, Valley coal tipple, and the popular Coca-Cola bears.

“I have a new circus tent and act; a moving merry-go-round and tea cups moving around in the tent,” he said.

The event is free and two electric trains, purchased by the Elks, will be raffled off to raise money for Elks charities.

“Elks will be giving away a raffle with two trains and Santa Claus is going to be here for special orders,” Harris said.

Canned food donations will be accepted, which will be donated to different Elks charities and the Carson Valley Food Closet.

To arrange for group tours or special times, call Harris at 265-5863.