By Fran Lane

The train garden tradition in Baltimore originally began with Moravian immigrants that settled in Pennsylvania and Maryland. Along with other religious customs they brought with them was the putz (pronounced pootz) garden. The putz was a miniature indoor “garden” that told the story of the Nativity. These would include tiny people, animals, buildings, and landscaping. After the Moravians arrived in Baltimore, however, the local citizens began placing these gardens beneath their Christmas trees.

During the 19th century Baltimoreans began adding wooden trains to their Christmas gardens. These were the earliest known “train gardens”. In the late Victorian era the wooden trains were replaced by motorized trains and were now running around Christmas trees throughout Baltimore.

Firehouses also began displaying elaborate train gardens so everyone in the community could experience them. The holiday gardens were now more than a religious custom; they were a holiday celebration of the community. Today this proud tradition continues all across Baltimore in homes, firehouses, and local businesses.

Check out this link for Train Garden Displays in and around Baltimore: http://www.wvmgrs.org/TrainGardens.htm#Baltimore

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