October 3, 2023

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Where’s Marty? At the second stop on his ride through Baltimore area Train Gardens

3 min read

Hi Everyone!

Day two of “Train Garden Week” on “WM?” took us to the “22,” Dundalk Maryland, (21222), and the Wise Avenue Volunteer Fire House display. 

It is not only iconic, but some would argue legendary. 

Folks, we are talking 100 years of holiday firehouse displays in Dundalk. For the longest time, the Dundalk Fire Station held the event, but all good things come to an end..the rest of the modern history is from the WAVFC note to us.

In 1978 the Dundalk Fire Station closed its traditional Christmas Garden that served the Dundalk Community for many decades.

With the closing of the Dundalk Fire Station Christmas Garden, the members of the Wise Avenue Volunteer Fire Company decided to continue the holiday tradition. 

When the firemen of the Dundalk Fire Station learned of the new Christmas Garden to be constructed by the members of Wise Avenue, they kindly donated items from their Garden to Wise Avenue. 

Wise Avenue Fire Company hosted its first Christmas Garden in 1981.

The members of Wise Avenue used this opportunity to increase the size of the display and doubled the exhibit size from what the Dundalk Garden had displayed. 

Excited to catch the attention of more observers, the first garden size was 10 feet wide by 32 feet long and took three weeks to construct. The Garden would use Lionel trains and “O” gauge size accessories and animations. 

As hoped, more than 16,000 people came to see the first garden, which received outstanding reviews from community members.\

The garden has grown in size over the years to its present size of 20 feet wide by 44 feet long which makes it one of the largest temporary displays in the country. 

Currently being used is Mike’s Train House (M.T.H. Electric Trains®) Rail King O-Gauge Trains and a collection of Department 56 ceramic buildings and various other model displays. 

What is so fascinating about this garden is all of the animated scenes created to make it a truly remarkable display of wonder. 

The look of awe and amazement the spectators show from enjoying the miniature figurines that imitate reality captures the essence of the holiday season.

The Annual Christmas Garden comes to life through a dedicated committee of Fire Company Members and Community Train Buffs.

Each year the design of the Annual Garden begins months before the display is constructed. 

The garden design is different each year so people who come to visit will come again and again to see something new and different.”

To see it is to believe. Even with the ceiling fluorescents on for TV, the sight is grand. (Left Picture). With the lights off, and the Train Gardens overhead lights only on, it is just special. 

Where’s Marty? Checking out the Wise Avenue Train Garden in all its lit up glory


By the way, the Train Garden lights shift from day-time mode to night-time peace and quiet. 

Watch the videos from this morning’s broadcast they show you more than I can post here. So many different scenes! Heck, they even have the Beltway and motorized cars whizzing by. 

Personally, I loved the Dundalk Marine Terminal scene, but the “Blue Angels” flying over it are pretty cool too. The drive-In screen is playing a Christmas movie, and there are even digital fireworks in the amusement park area. WILD!

Think of how many generations of families have come by. Think of how many of those families drove from other suburbs/cities to get to the “Garden.” (Again, as I mentioned yesterday, our look this week is at the iconic Train Gardens in the area. We are not crowning the best or brightest.)  

A century of holiday cheer from Dundalk to You! That is really “something.”

Where’s Marty? Chugging his way through the Wise Avenue Train Garden


The hours are Monday-Friday 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., weekends noon to 9 p.m. Closed Christmas Day. 

It is free, but donation boxes are set up. It is these donations that keep the Train Garden growing and going. Here is the WAVFC website.

Tomorrow it is to Baltimore City and another fire station, another Train Garden with legacy! 

See ya then!

Marty B!

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