- Associated Press - Monday, December 22, 2014

LINDEN, Ind. (AP) - Although the sign prohibited visitors from touching the Plexiglas, 3-year-old Braxton Dodds couldn’t keep his tiny hands off the display. He was so fascinated by the whizzing of miniature trains, whirling of carousels and winking of little lights.

“We’ve passed 100 times,” said his grandmother, Chris Dodds, 58, of Lafayette. “I don’t know how he got crazy about trains, but he is.”

The Dodds were among the many visitors who made a stop at the Linden Depot Museum on Saturday during the second to last weekend of the Christmas Open House, which started the weekend before Thanksgiving. Visitors admired the model layouts, stared at a 12 foot live Christmas tree and listened to the depot president’s many tales about train, circus and carnival history.

“Indiana was a big circus state,” Gary Vierk, museum president, told the Journal & Courier (http://on.jconline.com/1zNJvZa ). “Emmett Kelly, the most famous clown in the world, is buried in Lafayette … The circus moved by rail. They were so good, that the army studied their method of loading and unloading their equipment.”

The open house is a fundraiser for the nonprofit, which is run by volunteers.

The museum, built in 1908, is the last junction depot in Indiana. It served the Nickel Plate and Monon Railroads. It closed in the early ‘70s and became a museum in 1993.

Vierk said about 200 people visited the museum by 3 p.m. Saturday and estimated that 2,000 guests would have stopped by throughout the entire season.

“The weather has been good to us, this year,” said Elizabeth Hendrickson, vice president of the museum. “Last year, we had snow, which really hurt our attendance.”

At age 10, Cason Bishop of Delphi is already a train aficionado.

“I have a lot of trains at home (but) these are better,” he said.

Chris Dodds couldn’t let her grandson have all the fun, either.

She called the museum a “real gem.”

“It’s kind of stuck in time, which is wonderful for someone like me, who loves history,” she said.

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Visit the Linden Depot Museum:

- The museum’s Christmas Open House will continue from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday and next weekend, Dec. 26-28.

- Although admission is free, visitors can donate $10 to receive a clown ornament, buy books or toys.

- For more information, call 765-427-3630 or visit lindendepotmuseum.org

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Information from: Journal and Courier, http://www.jconline.com

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