Holiday trains have been a Cincinnati Christmas tradition for 75 years

The sign hung overhead like a cartoon word balloon. “All Aboard for an Electrical Christmas.”

The year was 1946, the start of a beloved Cincinnati tradition when the model Baltimore & Ohio Railroad trains went on display in the lobby of the Cincinnati Gas & Electric Co. building at Fourth and Main streets.

This year, the holiday trains celebrate 75 years of bringing yuletide joy to Cincinnati.

For seven decades, generations of families went Downtown to view the electrical trains chugging through an elaborate scale-model town straight out of a Frank Capra film.

Some 10 million kids, young and old, watched with a mix of wonder and envy, wishing to be the engineer for one of the miniature locomotives.

The tradition began with two kids, according to a 1968 article in The Pictorial Enquirer.

In the fall of 1946, Craig Hodgetts learned from his classmate Kenny Hall about a model train layout that was owned by the B&O Railroad, where Hall’s father, Frank L. Hall, was division master mechanic. Hodgetts’ father, Edward W. Hodgetts, was director of sales promotion and merchandising at CG&E.

The layout was a replica of B&O’s Cumberland and Maryland division built in 1936 at a cost of $50,000 and used as a touring promotional display.

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