'Well played, Scranton. Well played.'

HBO comedian-presenter's ‘irresponsibly large train set’ brings big crowds to Scranton trolley museum
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SCRANTON, Pa. — More than 5,000 people visited Scranton's Electric City Trolley Museum last weekend to see a model railroad built as a joke by HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.

A model train running in the background of a local Scranton television station’s weather segment has becoming a running gag on the HBO show in recent months. But many local Scranton residents thought Oliver was making fun of their community and its train. To prove them wrong, the comedian had HBO build an “irresponsibly large train set” for the TV station on posted a video segment about it on YouTube (WARNING: Vulgar and crude language). WNEP-TV Scranton took Oliver up on the offer and accepted the train, but it was too big to put in the background of the weather segment. Instead, the television station gave it to the Electric City Trolley Museum for display. The trainset was unveiled to the public on Sept. 22.

The multi-level train set features a number of northeast Pennsylvania landmarks, including the Lackawanna Station Hotel and Delaware, Lackawanna & Western’s Tunkhannock Viaduct.

Museum manager Wayne Hiller tells Trains News Wire that 5,100 people came to the museum to see the train over the weekend and more than 600 rode the trolley. Last weekend’s crowds represents approximately a sixth of the museum's annual visitation, Hiller says, which is usually about 28,000.

“We’ve been swamped,” he says. “But it’s giving us a great opportunity to show off the museum.”

Hiller says the museum is proud to host the layout and says it’s just another piece of Scranton’s rich railroad and pop culture history.

“Railroading is in people’s blood here in Scranton,” he says. “I talk to people everyday who say ‘oh my grandfather was a motorman in Scranton’ or ‘my dad was a conductor for the DL&W.’ It’s in everyone’s blood.”

More information is available online.
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