Experience the West through 'Jingle Rails'

Overview of the Eiteljorg Museum's Annual Holiday Exhibit

••• Photo by Tiffany Dailey.

Train enthusiasts will delight in the Eiteljorg Museum's annual holiday exhibit, Jingle Rails. Imagine traveling from Indianapolis to the great American West by rail. This exhibit allows visitors to explore the possibilities with its winding railroads and beautifully-crafted landmarks.


The Exhibit
The railroad changed the face of the West forever and Jingle Rails brings that story to life. The exhibit is a series of trestles, bridges, tunnels and trains that wind through detailed replicas of both the city of Indianapolis and Western landmarks.

Nine trains wind through the elaborate landscape, including lighted passenger trains, trains with vintage posters and advertisements on their sides and freight trains.

Highlights of the Exhibit Include:


For another exciting train experience, check out the Polar Bear Express!

  • Eight G-scale/gauge model trains
  • Nearly 1200 feet of track
  • Thirteen overhead walk-under bridges
  • More than 24 nature-inspired buildings
  • Working waterfall feature


    Exhibit Landmarks
    The landmarks were created with natural materials by Paul Busse and his company, Applied Imagination. They are incredibly detailed and realistic. Indianapolis landmarks featured in the display include the Eiteljorg Museum, Monument Circle (lit up for the holiday season), Chase Tower, Union Station and even Lucas Oil Stadium. The stadium's roof is open and football commentary can be heard coming from inside. After leaving the city, the tracks wind their way through national parks, passing famous sites including Mount Rushmore, the Grand Canyon, Golden Gate Bridge, Yosemite Falls, the Rocky Mountains and Mesa Verde. Native American villages, pony express stations, hot air balloons and covered bridges dot the landscape. This year, museum goers can expect to see three new additions including the Las Vegas Strip and the Hoover Dam all made out of natural materials like twigs, moss and nuts.

    Review of the Event
    Jingle Rails is a beautiful holiday exhibit. Not only is it an amazing sight to see such a large-scale train exhibit, but the tiny lighted trees and greenery sprinkled throughout the natural landscape truly evokes holiday spirit. I attended the exhibit for the first time with my husband, our four-year-old son and our infant son. The exhibit is large and one could spend awhile there, taking in all the amazing details and enjoying the scenery. While I tried to take it slow, I was constantly being rushed forward by my son to see the next thing. I think we saw the entire exhibit in about twenty minutes. The second time I attended, my sons were seven and three and we spent a lot more time in the exhibit. After seeing other parts of the museum, they begged to go back to see Jingle Rails again before we left.

    After touring the holiday exhibit, we took time to see the entire museum. While the Eiteljorg offers a beautiful selection of Western and American Indian Art, it is not entirely for young children. Young children will find themselves most amused in the RB Annis Western Family Experience, located on the canal level. There, they can play on a stagecoach, build a log cabin, play inside a cabin and create your own totem pole. For school-aged children, the museum is stocked full of educational information and an excellent resource for history lessons. I highly recommend Jingle Rails to train enthusiasts or collectors. I have very little knowledge of toy trains and I was enthralled with the exhibit. It was really amazing and beautiful.

    Event Information
    Jingle Rails runs November 21, 2015 through January 19, 2016 and is free with regular museum admission. Admission is $12 for adults; $10 for seniors and $6 for children. Children four and under are free.