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Archive for Saturday, February 18, 2012

Show helps build love of model trains

February 18, 2012

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Gus Dierks, 5, Lawrence was captivated by some of the trains at the 11th annual Lawrence Model Railroad Club Train Show on Saturday at the Douglas County Fairgrounds, 2110 Harper St. Hundreds of model train enthusiasts attended the event, which helped raised funds and canned goods for the Lawrence Interdenominational Nutrition Kitchen food pantry.

Gus Dierks, 5, Lawrence was captivated by some of the trains at the 11th annual Lawrence Model Railroad Club Train Show on Saturday at the Douglas County Fairgrounds, 2110 Harper St. Hundreds of model train enthusiasts attended the event, which helped raised funds and canned goods for the Lawrence Interdenominational Nutrition Kitchen food pantry.

Nate Steinlage, 5, locks his gaze on a model train, then pulls a lever that makes the train cruise down the tracks toward a freight car.

Nate picks the freight car up on the back of the train, then shuttles it over to the west corner of the tracks. Nate is operating on a miniature time-saver layout, a famous train puzzle invented by John Allen. Basically five freight cars are displaced on the tracks. The train operator has to move them to their designated spots before time runs out. Expertly, with thoughtful and slow movements, Nate puts the last car in the right location before the 15-minute buzzer sounds. Nate is a big fan of trains. He has Thomas the Tank Engine pusher locomotives and thousands of train-related Legos.

“I can build them from sets, I can make bridges and ... tunnels, and I can control switch trains,” Nate said. “I can (make my trains) wind around the house and come back through the living room again.”

Nate was one of several hundred people excited to stop by the 11th annual Lawrence Model Railroad Club Train Show at the Douglas County Fairgrounds, 2110 Harper St. It’s the Lawrence Model Railroad Club’s only event of the year, and it operates on a break-even budget, giving extra proceeds to the Lawrence Interdenominational Nutrition Kitchen food pantry. In addition, the Lawrence Model Railroad Club collects canned goods for LINK, taking $1 off the $6 ticket price for those who bring food for donation.

Jim Taylor, show coordinator, was pleased with the number of people filing in and out of Building 21 at the fairgrounds Saturday. By 1 p.m., 300 people had stopped by the event to peruse the model trains. Taylor’s interest in trains started when he was child — his dad had lots of trains, and Taylor can remember squatting and crawling to fix a train on his dad’s set whenever one derailed — and his passion was revived again when he attended the Lawrence Model Railroad Club show back in 2003. After that show, he decided to join the club. He has been a member ever since.

“We get to display our hobby and our trains,” Taylor said. “We get to show (our hobby) to young and old alike. ... I like meeting and talking to new people, and we get a lot of new (Model Railroad Club) members from the show.”

For Paul Dutot, of Olathe, a passion for trains took root when he was a child. And his love of trains never diminished but was discarded temporarily as he married, had children and raised a family. Two of Dutot’s children had a passion for trains when they were young, too, said Dutot, 67. But now they are raising families of their own and will probably put the hobby on hold until that time in their life is over.

A love for model trains is something that sprouts in the heart at a young age, Dutot said. But it’s also a passion that can bloom again in adult life.

The passion is already growing in Nate and his brother, Blake, 8, both at the event.

“I started (with trains) when I was little,” Blake said. “My uncle gave me a train set, and after that I got interested in them and started collecting more. I like to build tunnels out of Tinker Toys and put a blanket over it. Sometimes, if I have a lot of Legos, I like to build tunnels.”

The boys’ grandmother, Ellen Thompson, took them to the railroad show because of their marked interest in trains.

“It started with Legos. (They) have thousands of train-related Legos,” Thompson said. “This is going to be the highlight of (their) day.”

Comments

Lawrence Morgan 2 years, 10 months ago

I love model trains, and I'm sure all those who came did as well. It is not just building and running the trains themselves, but all the things that have to do with trains - stations, lights, lego sets, just pure enjoyment as you run the trains and move things around to change things.

Although girls do build model trains, I think - I could be wrong - that it is mostly boys. In a way, it's the boys' version (and adult men's version) of decorating the different parts of a house as girls often do when they are young, but this is movable, it involves different cities even, it runs from one place to the next, and so on....

Fred Whitehead Jr. 2 years, 10 months ago

We had a lady in our club several years back that built the most exquisit and detailed structures for her module on the layout. Some of the wive's also participate, one of the contest entries was a passenger car with interior detail done by one of the wives of a member. Years ago when Lionel trains were very popular (they still are) they created a set that was called "The Girl's Train". It was a standard Lionel ste but the cars were painted in pastel colors. Typical thinking of the time. But it was a commercial flop at the time. Now however, since very few of these "special" sets were manufactured and even fewer kept, they are a very collectable and valuable item. If you have one in the attic, well, you might check out your retirement plans.

Liberty275 2 years, 10 months ago

Nice hobby. While I'm more of a car enthusiast, I can appreciate the intricacy that makes the incredible power of locomotives so controllable. Diesel/electrics are among the original hybrids not including grandaddy hitching mules to his model T for the extra horsepower.

However, you young fellows should take up guitar as well. You'll thank me when you get to high school. The more it annoys mom, the better the girls will like you.

Lawrence Morgan 2 years, 10 months ago

I don't agree with you regarding the guitar. It is a wonderful instrument, but I took up piano and clarinet, and played first chair in the high school orchestra and in the army. And Mom liked the piano, especially, very much. I also had model trains, but, unfortunately, no Lionel. Thanks for that very informative comment.

Alexander Smith 2 years, 10 months ago

I went to the show and I think the best part wasn't the trains, the dealers, or the food. It was watching the faces of children light up when they saw a toy locomotive wizzing buy and the faces of older people look and smile remebering child hood memories.

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