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Model train museum coming to Pottersville

2010-11-24T12:06:00Z 2010-11-24T17:20:27Z Model train museum coming to PottersvilleDAYELIN ROMAN - droman@poststar.com Glens Falls Post-Star
November 24, 2010 12:06 pm  • 

CHESTER - Dozens of tracks, tunnels, bridges and skyscrapers in the background.

The scene may sound like something plucked out of New York City, but it's coming to Pottersville -- in miniature size.

Clarke Dunham, a Pottersville resident who has made a career out of designing sets on Broadway, said he's working toward bringing a model train museum to the hamlet.

The museum would display his model train layouts that have been exhibited throughout the country, he said, including one that depicts an entire region of the state of New York in the 1950s, from New York City to the Adirondacks.

That display had been the focus of a holiday exhibit at Citigroup Center in New York City for years until it was discontinued in 2008. It consists of 30 trains running on multiple tracks. Every 3 minutes, lighting in the layout alternates between day and night.

In addition to that layout, Dunham said, the museum will have three other displays, with 40 to 50 trains in all.

"Pottersville can use this," he said. "A lot of good things have been happening here."

Dunham said a business partner originally encouraged him to plan for the museum to be located in Lake George, but he found it to be a less expensive venture in Pottersville.

Dunham is in a lease with a purchase agreement for a Main Street building that used to house an auto parts dealership, located halfway between the Black Bear Restaurant and the Wells House restaurant and Bed and Breakfast. He said he will officially own the building on Jan. 1, and will convert the front of it into a 19th-century Victorian railroad station. He expects to open on July 1, 2011.

Dunham said he hopes to share the 12,000 square feet of space with a local history museum.

"What I know is the local historical society has many artifacts in storage without room to display them," he said. "We will be happy to make it available to them."

Admission will be about $12, he said, with discounts available for tours, motels and other groups.

Dunham, a Tony Award-nominated set designer for Broadway plays, said model trains have been his hobby for years, and he was able to merge his set design skills with his hobby to create model train displays that can be picked up and moved easily

"The two were symbiotic," he said.

The layouts he has displayed all over the country have been in storage for some 10 years, he said, but will come out of hiding for the museum.

Chester Town Supervisor Fred Monroe agreed the new museum in town will boost the local economy.

"It's going to benefit all of northern Warren County," he said. "Some will stay overnight. I see it as being a tremendous boost to the economy."

"These trains are known nationally."

Vin McCann, the owner of the Wells House down the street from the proposed museum, agreed.

"Well I don't see how it could hurt," he said. "I think it is really promising. It's really an attraction that has pretty wide appeal for families."

McCann called the museum a great rainy-day activity in an area known for outdoor pursuits rather than things to do indoors.

"After this past winter and the recession, maybe this is the light at the end of the tunnel," he said.

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(2) Comments

  1. randyinadk
    Report Abuse
    randyinadk - November 24, 2010 4:30 pm
    A definite factor in favor of its success is its very close proximity to Exit 26 on I-87. This is a railroad venture with a good chance of profitability, unlike the other boondoggle on the other side of the Hudson. A fine example of entrepreneurship and adapting to changing economic conditions.
  2. lauren
    Report Abuse
    lauren - November 24, 2010 3:42 pm
    This museum was discussed at the last town board meeting.
    It appears the town board is requesting "No Parking" signs for Rte 9 from DOT. It seems funny, we want you to come because we need the business, but, don't park here. What is up with that?

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