The latest addition to the Carnegie Science Center model railway and village will be themed “Night of the Living Dead.”
The addition unveiled later this month is a replica of the Evans City Cemetery Chapel featured in the iconic zombie movie made in western Pennsylvania. This is where the opening scene in which things go terribly wrong for the characters Barbara and Johnny was filmed.
When “Night of the Living Dead” sound engineer Gary Streiner learned that the nearly 100-year-old chapel was to be demolished, he raised nearly $50,000 to save and restore it, as well as to obtain a historical designation.
Nicole Wilhelm, railroad and village manager at the Science Center’s Buhl Planetarium, said the spooky theme had a lot to do with the time of year.
“We thought it would be fun to do a little addition related to Halloween and spooky stuff, as we’re also updating all the digital text panels we have around the exhibit to feature unusual real-life crimes and scary stories around Pittsburgh and western Pennsylvania,” Wilhelm said. “It fits that perfectly.”
And when it comes to attracting visitors, it doesn’t hurt to build something around a movie that the people of Pittsburgh never seem to get tired of talking about.
“People are very excited about it,” Wilhelm said. “The model railroad itself is a historical representation of southwestern Pennsylvania. The models we choose always have some kind of cultural or historical significance for the region.
The new model, which will also feature a small graveyard around it, will be installed on September 12. Zombies will be added to the spooky scene in October for the Halloween season.
Wilhelm said that according to his research, the chapel was only used for funerals. The Evans City Historical Society told him that before there was heavy machinery to dig graves, when the ground was frozen in winter, corpses were stored in the basement of the church. until the ground is thawed enough to dig graves again.
“It’s kind of scary, and we can’t advertise it to kids. But if people want to know about scary stuff, we’ll definitely tell them,” Wilhelm said.