Of the many symbols of Christmas, the HARTNEY family has always held the toy train "Putz" around the
tree as one of the most important, even ranking it on a level with the tree itself. This comes from the
early German American traditions prevalent in Pennsylvania and brought down through the Hartney and Degelow branches of the clan.
Frequently referred to as a Train Garden or Christmas layout
, it has always been called simply "the Putz" by the Hartneys.
This family tradition was brought by my father, William A. Hartney, from Pennsylvania to Florida in the 1930s,
and from there to the West Coast by myself in the 1970s.
The tradition of the "Putz', a German phrase roughly meaning "to place or put",
came to the US with the hardy settlers immigrating from the old country to the farmlands of Pennsylvania.
Initially, the Putz was a simple Nativity scene placed at the base of the tree, on a table, or fireplace mantle.
The use of ornate miniature fences to enclose the Putz at the base of the tree also came into use and the Nativity
was expanded to include village scenes (for a brief history of the Moravian tradition of Putz building in America - press HERE). With the advent of the electric toy train in the early part of the 20th century, these
village scenes were further expanded to integrate a working toy train to the great delight
of children of all ages.
Please take time to view the history of my family's Christmas PUTZs as shown in the four sites to the left.
Feel free to contact me and share your photos, memories, or favorite links.
NORCAL TCA 01-53108
e-Mail me Classic Train Links
Serving toy train and Putz lovers everywhere since
January 25, 2004.
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