By Amelia Sack
Christmas lights, pieces of history, and the sounds of laughter and locomotives can be found at the Railroad Museum of Long Island. On Dec. 3 and 4, the museum held its annual Holiday Open House at its Riverhead and Greenport locations. Visitors of all ages enjoyed refreshments, Christmas music, train rides, views of the displays, and a visit by Santa Claus and his team.
On Dec. 3 in Riverhead, the real trains were closed because of rain, but that did not stop the fun indoors. Visitors checked out the gift shop and the displays, and hopeful children gave Santa their Christmas lists. They could even participate in a raffle to win a Lionel Polar Express train set.
Samson Gibson, a train lover from Bayshore, said he was happy with this year’s open house. “I liked all of the trains and Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus and the elf,” Gibson said. This was his second year attending the event.
Karen Fediuk, of Selden, has attended the open house many times with her various grandchildren. She enjoys bringing them year after year. She even brings them in for a visit during the regular season. “It’s a nice family event,” Fediuk said of the open house.
At the museum, there are displays featuring the Long Island Rail Road, which dates back to the 1830s. Don Fisher, the Railroad Museum president, said the LIRR is one link in the chain of railroads from South Carolina to Boston, Mass. The LIRR stretches from Brooklyn to Greenport, and the network of rail lines stretching across parts of the Island’s North and South Shores took 10 years to complete.
The holiday open house tradition started in 1994 to support the museum and bring in people from the community. “That’s our way to say thank you to our communities in Riverhead and Greenport,” Fisher said. The open houses are free to the public.
The museum seeks to educate people on the history of the railroad, while making things fun for all. The museum was only closed for three months in 2020 during the height of the pandemic. When it reopened, strict Covid protocols were put in place to maintain health and safety and keep the trains on the track.
Prospective visitors can learn more about the museum and when to visit by checking out the museum’s website and Facebook page.