Railroad modelers right on track for fun

THURSDAY, OCT. 13, 2011

There are three tiny little towns in the area you won’t find on any map. Trains pull through the towns, announcing their approach with whistles. Lights twinkle from the buildings.

The towns, Bakersville, New City and Cobbleton, are part of a 25-foot-by-60-foot layout for the Evergreen Railroad Modelers’ HO gauge railroad.

There are bridges, patches of wilderness, a roundhouse, mines, rivers, people, farms and enough tracks to run 99 trains at once.

“We would never even dare try,” said Jim Bowden, secretary/treasurer of the group.

The model trains are in a storefront of the Greenacres Shopping Center at 18213 E. Appleway Road. The group will offer the public an open house this weekend to encourage others to pick up the hobby.

“It’s still a great family hobby,” said Mike Baker, vice president of the group.

Not only is it a great hobby, but members said they have learned much more than just camaraderie and train collecting.

“You learn all about mechanics and electronics,” Bowden said. They also teach classes on creating the trees and scenery that dot the hills of the model.

HO gauge trains are half the size of O gauge trains such as the old Lionel trains. The gauge represents the width of the rails.

The modelers – members range in age from 26 to 73 – have been in their shop for about 3 1/2. There are about two dozen members who come by on Tuesdays to work on the layout and on Thursdays to run their trains. Each member pays a $30 monthly membership, and the whole group chipped in to get the storefront.

“Most of us started as kids,” Baker said. He said his grandchildren love to come and see the trains – they are more interactive than something they see on a television screen playing video games.

“I’ve been doing electric trains since I was 5 years old,” Bowden said.

The massive layout includes tunnels, trestles, water towers and of course, Bakersville, New City and Cobbleton. All have been built by hand and no detail has been spared. There are even tiny workers painting some of the trestles.

“Each city has its own controls for the lights,” Bowden said. The roundhouse is fully operational and there are lights in almost every building.

Bowden said his favorite part of the layout is the area visible as you walk into the room. There are trestles and a raging river made from an epoxy resin. The rocks overlooking many of the tracks have been custom made and painted.

Members also take pictures of trains and railroads when they are traveling to get ideas for the model and find new details to add.

“It’s constantly a work in progress,” Bowden said.

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