Christmas and trains — a nostalgic connection

While Christmas and trains would appear to have little in common, that hasn’t stopped the two from being romantically linked for almost as long as trains have been around.

For generations, some families have placed model trains on a round track around their Christmas trees.

The tradition may have stemmed from as far back as 1830, when the Best Friend of Charleston became the first regularly scheduled steam locomotive passenger train in the United States. That maiden voyage, all 6 miles, took place on the South Carolina Carna and Railroad Company. The date was Dec. 25.

Now, Christmas-themed trains and decorations can be bought at local stores around Christmas. The big screen also has paired the two with charm and mystery in books and movies such as “The Polar Express.”

The book — and more recently the animated movie featuring the voice of Tom Hanks — tells the tale of a boy who is doubtful of Christmas and is swept away into a magical journey to the North Pole.

This Christmas, at least a trio of free area events bring the pair together for Mid-Missouri families:

•Christmas model train display. Each year, Arthur Kristofik, owner of America’s Best Value Inn in Holts Summit, relives his childhood hobby by setting aside a motel room for a giant Christmas train display that’s free and open to the public.

The six Lionel trains run through an amusement park, an industrial area and a Christmas tree village, among other settings.

The display is open to the public from 1-8 p.m. Thursday through Sunday until Jan. 2. The motel is located at the Rt. AA/OO exit on U.S. 54.

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