Children have long been fascinated by trains—if the popularity of community train displays and elaborate play sets are any indication.
But families in Montgomery County might not be aware of a bit of local history around the subject.
The Metropolitan Branch of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, known as “The Met,” was established in Kensington, in what was then called “Knowles Station,” on May 25, 1873.
The Kensington Historical Society is now celebrating the 150th anniversary of that day, which had a big impact on transforming Kensington’s small farming community into a “thriving garden suburb,” as the organization describes on its website.
As summer break begins and parents are looking for fun, free activities to do with their kids outdoors, the Noyes StoryWalk offers a family friendly way to explore that history while also encouraging summer reading.
A StoryWalk will be available in Clum-Kennedy Park in Kensington through June 15, featuring the book “Steam Train, Dream Train,” written by Sherri Duskey Rinker and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld.
Among the official celebration lineup for the Metropolitan Branch anniversary, the StoryWalk is presented in partnership with the historical society and Montgomery Preservation as an ode to the milestone occasion for Knowles Station, now called the Kensington Train Station.
The second oldest active station in the county, Kensington Train Station is also one of only a handful of surviving stations out of the hundreds renowned Baltimore architect Ephraim Francis Baldwin created for the B&O, according to the historical society.
Families can visit the station, which is just a short walk from Clum-Kennedy Park, after completing the StoryWalk.
Originally created and coined as StoryWalk by Anne Ferguson, of Montpelier, Vermont, in collaboration with the Kellogg-Hubbard Library, the concept of an outdoor trail featuring posted pages a selected book along the way is now in 50 states and 13 countries.
The Noyes Children’s Library Foundation launched its StoryWalk program in January 2021 to encourage literacy and community during COVID-19. Previous walks, background information and accompanying crafts are available at noyeslibraryfoundation.org/events.
“Steam Train, Dream Train” is featured in the library’s 21st StoryWalk.
Families participating in the walk can share a selfie of family members on the trail or a photo of a completed craft on the Noyes Children’s Library Facebook page, facebook.com/MakeMoreNoyes and tag the Noyes Children’s Library Foundation, or post to Instagram and tag @makemorenoyes.
Kensington Historical Society is also hosting events for all ages over Memorial Day weekend, including a scavenger hunt, live music, train ride and art exhibit. For details, visit kensingtonhistory.org/khs-150th-anniversary-celebration-of-the-met.