Mixing history with fun: Strasburg Museum hosts Children’s Day

Tabitha Anderson holds her daughter Reagan in position to hear John Schreiner's model train make a pass during the Strasburg Museum's Children's Day event on Saturday. Josh Gully/Daily

STRASBURG – Some area children spent their Saturday steeped in history and fun at the Strasburg Museum’s first Children’s Day event.

The event, which included free admission, was meant to introduce children to a museum atmosphere and surround them with fun activities.

Ibby Stratton, a museum board member, said Children’s Day was fellow board member Marie Spence’s idea – to give kids an opportunity see the local museum and get used to being surrounded by history.

“Everything worked really well,” Stratton said. “The kids were introduced to the joys of a museum.”

The Strasburg Museum is a nonprofit educational corporation staffed by volunteers that displays artifacts from the town, which according to a history of the museum, has been occupied by settlers since the 1700s.

The Strasburg Museum's newest exhibit, which showcases local Native American artifacts, is enjoyed by, from left, Bella McMichael, 9, Chase Monahan, 7, and Michael Sullivan, 8, all of Strasburg. Josh Gully/Daily

Strasburg was once a center for pottery manufacturing, with commercial products available for sale from 1761 through the 1800s. The museum’s building, located at 440 E. King St., was constructed in 1891 as a pottery establishment and later became a freight depot from 1913 through the 1960s.

Both pottery and railroad memorabilia were on prominent display during Children’s Day. Stratton pointed out a “fabulous” and interactive pottery display by Ellen Utz.

John Schreiner and his 12-year-old assistant Kevin Jackson brought railroads to life with a 55-foot long model track inside of a restored railroad car behind the museum.

Schreiner said his track, which was donated to the museum in 2006, is modeled on several different towns and includes sights from around Strasburg. It also features a full-solar eclipse set to the theme song of  “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

Reagan Anderson, 4, of Strasburg, said the model train was her favorite part of Children’s Day because it was “super cool.” She complimented the display and said, “they did a good job.”

Michael Sullivan, 8, of Strasburg, and Chase Monahan, 7, of Strasburg, listen to the echo of John Schreiner's model train. Josh Gully/Daily

Bella McMichael, 9, of Strasburg, agreed that the model track was her favorite attraction and said  Children’s Day was “very fun.”

While history was around every corner with the museum’s numerous displays, other Children’s Day activities included face painting and a sandbox full of dried corn.

Items displayed at the museum, which opened in 1970, are given or loaned by citizens and have included artifacts from Colonial farms, Civil War articles, blacksmith and cooper collections, period clothing, a whiskey still, a railway baggage car and more.

The museum’s newest attraction is a Native American display, which includes a variety of artifacts from local Iroquoian- or Algonquian-speaking tribes. Its newest artifact is a Virginia Resturant sign from a popular Strasburg restaurant on the corner of Holliday and King streets.

Upcoming events at the museum include an Oct. 6 Boy Scout exhibit dedicated to the memory of Phillip Loving, who was the museum’s treasurer and a dedicated Eagle Scout. Also upcoming is Train Day on Oct. 30.

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly identified Ellen Utz and the origin of the Virginia Resturant sign.