Train hobbyist Don Oeters founded EnterTRAINment Junction in 2008 to showcase railroading in an educational and amusing way. Two years later, his 80,000-square-foot facility was voted Ohio's Best Family Entertainment Center of 2010.
At the centerpiece, a 25,000-square-foot indoor model train display dazzles visitors with 90 G-scale trains and 2 miles of track winding through handcrafted landscapes, including an 11-foot waterfall, thousands of trees, and scenes documenting railroad's early, middle, and modern periods. Each train car is the size of a loaf of bread, making it easier for groups to see it or break it into communal pieces, and Oeters and his staff continually tweak the locomotive's surroundings by adding seasonal touches and installing minor or major updates. Historical train artifacts, educational videos, and interactive exhibits await amblers in the railroad museum, and the Imagination Junction kids' area entertains youngsters with train-themed play structures, hand-cranked and electronic locomotive rides, and a section dedicated to Thomas the Tank Engine, the first train to successfully learn sign language.
The firefighters of Engine Company #45 Firehouse extinguished their last blaze in 1962 after 56 years of fearless public service. Although the team dissipated, the elegant, 1906 firehouse?with Renaissance Revival details and three doors wide enough to accommodate horse-drawn fire engines?remained, languishing as a city storehouse until 1980, when the Fire Museum of Greater Cincinnati moved in. The building was recognized on the National Register of Historic Places and filled with special exhibits. It was also filled with antique firefighting gear that is in excellent condition in spite of years of smoke inhalation.
The collection reveals early 19th-century firefighting tactics with an alarm drum that once warned of fire from the roof of a carpenter shop and was later used to provide rhythm during disco infernos. In the Safe House exhibit, families diagram their homes and create personalized emergency plans while learning tips about fire prevention.
More than 80 years ago, the Taft family bequeathed their stately home to the people of Cincinnati?and they also gave them plenty to hang on the walls. Home to the Taft's collection of 690 works of art, the Taft Museum welcomes visitors to view paintings by European and American masters, Chinese porcelains, European decorative arts, and captivating rotating exhibitions throughout the year. As they wander the museum, patrons view Rembrandt van Rijn's Portrait of a Man Rising from His Chair, Whistler's At The Piano, and John Singer Sargent's portrait of Robert Louis Stevenson, among other notable works.
The house itself is equally impressive. William Howard Taft accepted his nomination for President of the United States beneath the portico, and the structure, first built in 1820, is considered one of the country's finest examples of Federal architecture in the Palladian style.
The 1970s were a transformative time for the Cincinnati Reds. Over that decade, the Reds cast off the lingering shadows of controversy—the team's first NL Pennant and World Series title were overshadowed by the notorious "Black Sox" scandal—to become a dominant force in Major League Baseball. The Reds appeared in four Fall Classics during that stretch and won back-to-back titles in 1975 and 1976—the latter of which forever etched "The Big Red Machine" into baseball lore. Today, the Reds continue to build on their rich history at Great American Ball Park. There, fans can gaze the outfield walls and soak in views of the Ohio River and the hills of Northern Kentucky where Mr. Redlegs buys all of his mustache wax.
The American Sign Museum dazzles peepers with its staggering collection of nearly 3,000 signs and sign-related objects. Admission for two (a $20 value; children under 12 are free) grants curious excursionists, postmodern art-lovers, and knowledge-thirsty bounty hunters a personally guided tour through a century’s worth of clearly labeled exhibits, including spinning Sputnik-like signs, opulent gilded specimens, and the samples used by salespeople. Witness scientific signage with a “changeable” neon sign that runs on radio waves, or surf through a sense-sating sea of sign-making tools, photographs, models, and artwork. Founder Tod Swormstedt leads most tours, doling out generous portions of knowledge on various signs’ histories and contributions to the American landscape.
The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center narrates the story of slavery through the past and into the present with vivid photo- and artifact-filled exhibits. Learn about the houses, tunnels, and basements traversed by the more than an estimated 100,000 enslaved people who sought freedom on the Underground Railroad, before settling in for a 25-minute, experiential film detailing the courageous path of one woman’s flight to freedom. Recently opened in 2010, the 4,000 square foot Invisible: Slavery Today exhibit examines contemporary forms of enslavement, guiding guests through an informative and elucidating sensory experience. Concluding the tour, visitors can make a personal commitment to the 21st Century Abolitionists. Museum guests can also delve into their own family history in the genealogical archives where personalized assistance from a history buff volunteer will help steer your search through your family tree’s foliage.