By Dave Zuchowski Photos by Bill Rockwell
A recent visit to the former steel-making town on the Ohio River opened my eyes, at least, to the Christmas spirit after visiting two captivating sites. The first, the Kruger Street Toy and Train Museum fills a gorgeous, four-story, brick building with a bell tower that was completed in 1906 as a schoolhouse (1906-1991). Now renovated, the historic building serves as home to close to a half million items, about 100,000 of which are on display. How’s that for Christmas-ish?
On the day of my visit, I met founder Allen Robert Miller outside in the parking lot doing chore duty. Before long, he led me inside the ground floor of the museum where I was visually accosted by the sight of the largest Snoopy collection in the world, said number 15,000 items. Surprisingly, a collection of 500 colorful neckties, dangling in a vibrant arrangement from above, added an unexpected vibe. (Yes, there’s more to the museum than toys and trains).
|A shot of the Snoopy Collection
|The 40,320-piece Jigsaw Puzzle
|Well Hello Dolly!
|In the K-Land Room
Train lovers can take heart in knowing there are three rooms devoted to trains. One focuses on an O-Gauge display representative of the Marcellus and Utica shale oil and gas fields. Other rooms feature an O-scale layout while another is devoted to historical toy trains.
The Kruger Street Toy and Train Museum, located at 144 Kruger St. in Wheeling is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Santa will be on site Saturdays in December from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Admission is $15, $7.50 for students 4-17. Phone 304-242-8133 or toyandtrain.com.
|Welcome to the Festival of Lights
If you’re looking for something holiday-themed come evening, consider the Festival of Lights in Oglebay Park. This six-mile-long drive features over 100 lighted attractions highlighted by a 70-foot tall Welcome Tree, a larger-than-life winter globe at Schenk Lake and a light display of Wheeling’s iconic suspension bridge.
Admission is a suggested donation of $30 per car. If you’d rather take a guided trolley tour, which departs from Wilson Lodge hourly from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m., the cost is $20 per person, Monday – Thursday, and $30, Friday – Sunday. Phone 877-436-1797 for reserved tickets.
At Levenson Shelter, you can ice skate or take a stroll through the tree decorated trail, then sip some hot chocolate.
|A Patriotic Display
At Oglebay Park’s Good Zoo, enjoy a dazzling Rockin’ Holiday Light Show on the outdoor patio that features 40,000LED lights choreographed to the music of legends like Led Zeppelin, Trans-Siberian Orchestra and more! Access to the Rockin’ Holiday Light Show is included with Good Zoo admission. Adults: $13.95; Children (3-12): $9.95.
Santa will also be at the Good Zoo nightly from 6 – 8 p.m. to hear all your holiday wishes. Good Zoo guests will receive one free digital photo with admission throughout the holiday season.
|A 70-Foot-Tall Christmas Tree
Additional Christmas season events include a Nightly Candy Cane Cordial with free refreshments on the second floor of Wilson Lodge, a nightly dinner buffet in the Ihlenfeld Dining Room, Breakfast with Santa (some days only), holiday dinner shows and Magical Mansion Shows. For more information, phone 877-436-1797 or www.oglebay.com.
For more information on Wheeling, phone 800-828-3097 or wheelingcvb.com.
For a Place to Stay, Oglebay’s Wilson Lodge, at 465 Lodge Drive in Wheeling, features 250 rooms and 54 cottages. From single rooms to eight-bedroom estate houses, Oglebay provides all the amenities you need to feel right at home.
|A Cozy Nook at the Wilson Lodge
The lodge also offers fine and casual dining options, wireless Internet, retail shops, a business center, an indoor pool with Jacuzzi, a game room, a fitness center, a movement studio with wellness programming and the famous West Spa.
Phone 877-436-1797 or oglebay.com.
For a Place to Dine, Later Alligator, 2145 Market Street, is a casual, funky restaurant that specializes in both savory and sweet crepes but also serves soups, salads, wraps, burgers and sandwiches. Housed in an 1869 saloon, the restaurant is filled with artifacts related largely to Wheeling Steel.
|A Christmas Tree Made from Bottles of Grolsch Beer
The most popular savory crepe is the Wallie, a combination of chicken, spinach, ricotta, grilled tomatoes, and cheddar topped with raspberry sauce and walnuts. For dessert try the Banana-to-Fana, bananas, granola, honey, peanut butter and whipped cream. Phone 304-233-1606.