Navy helicopter, Japan, ca. 1960 Courtesy of the Children's Museum of Virginia
Lancaster Toy and Train Collection
at the Children's Museum of Virginia
In December 1994, the Lancasters donated their
personal collection of 5,000 toys and trains, lovingly collected
for more than forty years, to the Children's Museum of Virginia in
Olde Towne Portsmouth.
The Children's Museum of Virginia opened in 1980 as
the Tidewater Children's Museum. It moved several times until
finding its new home in a three-story facility in 1994. The antique
toy collection contains more than 2,000 toys of all descriptions,
including well used Tonka vehicles, mint condition model cars,
beautifully preserved Buddy L trucks, fire vehicles of all eras,
and tin windup and cast iron toys. The collection also features
circus toys, including circus tents filled with colorful circus
figures, trapeze artists, and circus wagons.
The enormous train collection boasts an extensive
array of pre- and post-war O and standard gauge trains from Lionel,
Williams, and Weaver; MTH O gauge trains; and No. 1 gauge Aster
trains. The oldest object in the collection is the standard gauge
summer trolley #303 built in 1910. The collection contains only one
steam locomotive, which is a scale model of the German class 01
The train exhibits are designed so that visitors can
learn about model railroading and railroad history, and how it
relates to the Portsmouth and Hampton Roads area. Trains are
displayed on along wall exhibits and in four themed layouts. Two
G-scale trains run through a brightly lit candy lane, highlighted
with huge cookies, peppermint sticks, lollipops, and other
convection. Standard gauge trains from Lionel travel through a
1950s mining town scene, with high trestle bridges and deep
mountain tunnels; another layout portrays a coastal theme, where
trains pass by a lighthouse and resort hotel.
Documentation includes three newspaper and magazine
articles, a text report, a brochure, photos and a video.
Originally submitted by: Norman Sisisky, Representative (4th District).
The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.