Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Posts tagged ‘Wheeling’

SMART Centre Features Dinosaurs, Space, and Ice Cream

SMART Centre

SMART Centre Market opened its doors in 2010 to encourage students’ interest in science.

A delightful Science Centre Market exists in downtown Wheeling, WV – right next door to their historic Centre Market District. This is no ordinary shop as it combines elements of hands-on experience, museum-like pieces, as well as a place to find some unusual gift ideas for those interested in science.

SMART owners 2

Libby and Robert Strong enjoy having fun as well as teaching.

Robert and Libby Strong, two former science teachers, created this special place several years ago. SMART stands for:

  • Science

  • Math

  • Art

  • Research

  • Technology

It seemed the natural thing to do for a physicist and a biologist!

SMART Fish Fossil

This cast shows the armored skeleton of a German fish with teeth sharp enough to bite through the shells of squid.

A fossil is a snapshot in time, so they feel it important to have original fossils throughout the center. Since originals are hard to come by, some of the larger displays are casts of original fossils, so children can see their size and detail. It is important to keep past science discoveries alive.

SMART singing coin

This wooden singing tree produced a beautiful song as a marble, made at near-by Marble King, dropped from leaf to leaf.

Around every bend, there’s a spot for hands-on discovery. Robert pointed out that there are two kinds of people who enjoy their place: little kids and tall kids. Even adults need to keep their curiosity alive, and learn something new each day.

SMART Gravity Machine

This Gravity Well lets children watch a coin go around at high speeds as the coins descend to the vortex tunnel.

This is the place to learn while you play. Children find interesting a line up of scales where they can discover their weight on earth, the moon, Mars, Jupiter, and Pluto. On Pluto, they would weigh the least, and on Jupiter the most – due to gravitational pull. A Gravity Well lets you watch different size coins make their way down the well at different speeds.

SMART books

Books on every scientific subject fill the shelves along with science kits to ignite their imagination.

Besides all the activities in the center, the Strongs hold field trips, camps, workshops, and have special open evenings for star gazing. Their main desire is to create a place where kids can have fun learning about science. Robert and Libby bubble over with enthusiasm.

SMART Wooly Willy

This 1955 game of Wooly Willy shows the magic of magnets as it creates “Magnetic Personalities”.

Everything in the center has an unusual quality. No matter where they sat or stood, the Strongs could point out unusual items such as dinosaur teeth, leaf fossils depicting global plate shifting, or pieces of k-t most likely from a million-year-old asteroid, which coincided with the extinction period of the dinosaurs. All this from one spot!

When Robert was asked about his favorite part of the center, he said, “When the door opens and people begin conversations about science, you are going to learn something.” Those people, who enter through the front door, teach him something from their questions and contributions. “It’s fabulous! It’s a perk being here – people and ice cream.”


Ice Cream Flavors

The day had to be finished with an ice cream cone, which Robert handed to me upside down…and it didn’t fall out!.That’s the first time a physicist ever made me an ice cream cone and it only cost a dollar. This ice cream comes from Kirke’s Homemade Ice Cream at near-by St. Clairsville.

With a visit to the SMART Centre Market, kids of any age can catch enthusiasm for the world of science. Robert and Libby are prepared to help you light the fire of exploration. Don’t forget the ice cream cone!

Hours for the SMART Centre are Tuesday – Saturday from 10:00 – 6:00. Check out their special events at


Toys and Trains for All Generations

Kruger Street Museum

Kruger Street Museum in Wheeling, WV

All of us are children at heart. Find the child within you by visiting the Kruger Street Toy & Train Museum, a hidden gem in Wheeling, WV. Discover toys from your childhood as well as multitudes of model trains.

A one hundred-year-old Victorian schoolhouse, Kruger Street School on the edge of Wheeling, WV, has been converted into a haven of toys from years gone by. With two floors containing ten rooms of toys, the child in you will want to explore for hours.

This lifetime dream of a toy museum for father and son, Allan Robert and Allan Raymond Miller, came true back in 1998. The vision began with a collection of Lionel trains, and the Millers’ thoughts and plans expanded to the present day museum.

Can you find the dinosaur hidden in the HO-Gauge Train Display?

Can you find the dinosaur hidden in the HO-Gauge Train Display?

Upstairs, trains fill several rooms and all offer interactive buttons so you can be a railroad engineer for a short time. While the HO-Gauge Train set, with dinosaurs hidden within, is a major attraction, there are several layouts on display. One attractive display uses local business names on stores and train cars. Names like Riesbeck’s, Coleman’s, Bleifus Tires, and Wes Banco draw viewers’ attention.


Interactive Slow Car Race Tracks

Interactive Slot Car Race Tracks

A slot car room gives opportunity to participate in driving the track, and is a favorite of many youngsters. Even this gypsy had to give it a try. Every room contains something children can play, as well as chairs for parents to sit and watch. Perhaps you will even meet Loo, the cat, who wanders freely while enjoying encounters with visitors.

K-Land Amusement Park

K-Land Amusement Park

The present curator, James Schulte, enjoys seeing entire families bond wth new memories as they discuss their favorite toys. Schulte also constructed the rides in a room called K-Land Amusement Park, from his own creative designs using the K’NEX building system. There you will find a ferris wheel, old-fashioned swings, and roller coaster that work at the push of a button.

Popular Pinball Machine

Popular Pinball Machine

Downstairs an old-fashioned Nickelodeon plays tunes for a quarter, while at the other end of the lobby you can play a vintage pinball machine, the most popular game here. This gives children a chance to experience fun before video games. It is a favorite of all generations with a long line quite often waiting for a chance to play.

The Game Room contains a mixture of traditional games from the 1900s, such as Candy Land, Rubik’s Cube  and Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots, a long ago favorite. A large selection of games are available to actually play such as foozball, checkers, blocks, and dominos.

Dollhouses from floor to ceiling

Dollhouses from floor to ceiling

Dollhouses and many dolls, including Barbies, Raggedy Ann and Andy, and Dippity Flip Flop, entertain the young ladies. Packed from floor to ceiling, dollhouses of all eras, Barbie cars, and several doll collections are on display.

For the 17th year, the Marx Convention will be held mid-June at the Kruger Street Toy & Train Museum. Over a hundred tables display Marx toys, but the biggest attraction is the group of former enthusiastic Marx employees, who have stories to tell regarding their part in the toy making.

1890's Tut Tut Car - oldest toy at the museum

1890’s Tut Tut Car – oldest toy at the museum

Stop by their Gift Shop, which has been described as one big toy box, to take home a lasting memory. A special section features glassware from Wilkerson’s Glass in Moundsville, WV. The museum is open every day from 9- 4 in June – December. During January – May, they’re only open on weekends, except for special arranged tours.

Relive your childhood memories at Kruger Street Toy & Train Museum sometime soon, when you can spend the day.  So many toys create a wonderland for the young at heart.

Kruger Street Toy & Train Museum can easily be reached just off I-70 in Wheeling, WV at Exit 4, Elm Grove. Take a right on Route 40, then go straight through the intersection to Kruger Street, with the museum on the right hand side. The sign is easily spotted.

Waddington Farm Becomes Oglebay Park

Exquisite! A feeling of wealth poured from the Oglebay Mansion Museum in Wheeling, West Virginia. In 1900, Earl Oglebay, Cleveland industrialist and Wheeling financier, purchased Waddington Farm to use it for experimental ideas such as crop rotation and soil improvement. He worked hard to develop quality of life for rural farmers and supported development of 4-H clubs.  His methods were considered outlandish at the time, but soon opened the eyes of many in the world of agriculture. After his death, he left Waddington Farm to the people of Wheeling and today it is Oglebay Park.

Everywhere you looked, you saw high quality, beautiful antiques in their home. When you visit, there are recordings to tell you about the furnishings, paintings, and life of the family in each room. But the Museum has more in store for you than just beautiful furnishings and paintings, as they have gone to great lengths to provide a history of the area as well.

The Pioneering Spirit Exhibition features the history of Wheeling, plus stores and rooms of the early 1900s. Wymer General Store and Sinclair Pharmacy are two of the highlights. Especially enjoyed the General Store as my grandfather had a very similar one. It was a step back in time to see the old candy case, roll of meat wrapping paper, scales, and all the things that created a  one stop place to shop many years ago.

Earl Oglebay’s only grandson, Courtney Burton, was much in evidence in several large oil paintings scattered throughout the house. Courtney always enjoyed horses, even as a child.  The story was told that he even brought one to the bedroom in the mansion, after riding around what is today Oglebay Park.  As he grew up, his love for horses made him a champion polo player and a master of foxhounds.

Here you find the history of Wheeling from pioneer to Victorian time depicted in pictures, stories, and displays. The name Wheeling was actually a piece of Native American vocabulary, Weelunk, which means place of scalp or skull. Indians decapitated early settlers there and placed their skulls on poles in the Ohio River, creating a unique “No Trespassing” sign. But when Ebenezer Zane’s family settled there in 1769, they said Wheeling was “a vision of paradise.”

Downstairs there is a changing exhibit, which at this time was In Their Wake: Wheeling and the Steamboat Revolution. 2011 is the bicentennial anniversary of the first successful steamboat, New Orleans, that traveled  down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to New Orleans with passage costing $30.  The exhibit displayed the many changes that occurred in Wheeling manufacturing and the influx of travelers and new residents into the city.  Wheeling is listed as the birthplace in 1816 of the  American steamboat, The George Washington, which set the pattern for future steamboats.  Also on display were pictures of the original Wheeling Suspension Bridge built in 1847. At that time it was 1,010′ from tower to tower and the longest suspension bridge in the world.

What a beautiful mansion in the rolling mountains of West Virginia!  Imagine spending a quiet evening in the favorite room of the Oglebays surrounded by the treasures of yesteryear. Musical activities were a popular relaxation and many of the rooms contained a piano, organ, or record player. What an elegant place to spend the evening. What a wonderful life!

Oglebay Mansion Museum is part of the Oglebay Institute in Wheeling, West Virginia.  Located just off I-70 at Exit 2A, follow posted signs to Oglebay Park. Continue on Lodge Drive up the mountain side to the Mansion, which is open most days from 9-5. 

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