A Short History of the
National Christmas Tree Railroad
In 1993, a Washington D.C. area modular train club, the National Capital Tinplate Trackers (now known as the National Capital
Trackers) was asked by the Smithsonian Institution's Museum of American History to exhibit a model train display over the
Their President, Bill Buschmeier, while driving back and forth to the Smithsonian each day, went by the National Christmas Tree.
In doing so, he recalled memories from several years back when his children were young and he took his family to the National Christmas
Tree. His kids were
bored with the tree but enjoyed the reindeer from a local petting zoo. The idea then occurred to him that it would be nice to
have a train running around the base of the National Christmas Tree. When the Smithsonian display was over, he started to
pursue that goal. He contacted the White House, which in turn sent him to the National Park Service, which in turn sent him to
the Pageant of Peace the organization which put together the event. Bill presented a written proposal and it was accepted.
Bill Buschmeier now needed the resources to execute the plan. After several failed attempts to locate sponsors, Bill contacted
Bill Frank of Aristocraft Trains.
Bill Frank was very enthusiastic about it and he requested approval from Mr. Louis Polk, the owner of Aristocraft Trains
Mr. Polk agreed to supply all the track, trains, transformers, buildings and parts as
long as the labor was done by volunteers.
Bill Frank contacted a few of his friends, Bill Spanarelli and Jim Grummons who agreed to help.
Bill Buschmeier then contacted several members of his "O" gauge train club, the National Capital Trackers, and
John Zampino and Carl Condon volunteered to help out. This formed the nucleus of
the initial group who put on the first display around the National Christmas Tree in December, 1994.
Over the next dozen plus years, Bill Frank served as the major force behind the exhibit until turning the reins over to
John Zampino in 2008.
Under the leadership of John Zampino, the organization and structure continues.
The National Christmas Tree Railroad is now incorporated as a
501(c)(3) tax exempt
corporation and has secured a number of corporate sponsors who provide a secure financial base for future displays.
The group works closely with the National Park Service in coordinating the display each year. They also hold off-season meetings and
where new ideas
are discussed and goals are established for the upcoming year.
New members are welcome but be forewarned that belonging to this organization involves a serious commitment of time, effort and
dedication to its goal
of providing a first class model railroad display around the National Christmas Tree.
Tax free donations to the display are appreciated and if you wish to become a part of the organization contact us at:
The National Christmas Tree Railroad, LLC