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7 decades of train collecting on display at St. Joe’s in O’Hara | TribLIVE.com
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7 decades of train collecting on display at St. Joe’s in O’Hara

Tawnya Panizzi
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Jerry Werries sets up a public train display at St. Joe’s Parish in O’Hara.

Four vintage American Flyers chug slowly past a 1950s-model supermarket in the St. Joe’s Parish social hall in O’Hara, while a replica of the Mr. Rogers trolley cruises by a plastic Three Rivers Stadium.

The detailed scenes are part of a public train display opening on Nov. 24 at the church campus along Dorseyville Road.

Hours will be noon to 3 p.m. through Jan. 6. Admission is free but a goodwill collection will benefit a homeless shelter.

Train enthusiasts can enjoy the vast collection of Plasticville villages and Tyco miniature rail cars thanks to the efforts of township resident Jerry Werries, who is eager to share his lifelong passion with others.

The holiday display constructed on nine 4-by-8 platform boards is stretched across St. Cecilia Hall in the rear of the church building. Each of the tiny street scenes were hand painted. Trees made of colorful steel wool dot the landscape.

Werries’ prized engine — a 1951 Sante Fe Diesel — will be on display. The collection is so substantial that Werries has only pulled it from his home on a few occasions.

“When the trains start going and smell like smoke, it’s like Christmas morning,” Director Jack Shaw said.

“We have free hot chocolate and cookies, and it’s something for adults and kids alike.”

There will also be informational storyboards with historical facts about the American Flyer Trains and Model Train history in the U.S.

Thanksgiving weekend only, there will be a model train and village estate sale. More than 3,000 pieces will be up for grabs. Proceeds will help with medical expenses of the anonymous donor. Sale hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 24 and noon to 4 p.m. Nov. 25.

Tawnya Panizzi is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tawnya at 412-782-2121, ext. 2, [email protected] or via Twitter @tawnyatrib.

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