Published On: Sat, Apr 13th, 2013

Model Railroad Show Thrills Young and Old Alike

Story last updated on April 13th, 2013 at 9:31 pm.

This weekend marks the 25th annual model railroad show at the Lane County Fairgrounds. Each year, the young and the young at heart gather for the displays and sales that take place in the Expo Center.

(Slide show a the bottom of the article)

Hundreds, if not thousands of people attend the event each year that traditionally seems to take place on rainy days for as long as I can remember. With a book sale, knife show, gun show, and a builders garage sale, parking however was a bit of a challenge.

Cold outside but plenty warm inside, the body heat from all of the attendees brought new meaning to natural heating. But the displays did not disappoint as setups of several model gauges entertained the masses.

Thomas and Cailin Cleary show off their prize won during the shows hourly raffles. Photo: Elizabeth Cully Prociw

Thomas and Cailin Cleary show off their prize won during the show’s hourly raffles.
Photo: Elizabeth Cully Prociw

Presented by the Willamette Cascade Model Railroad Club, the 235 vendor tables sold out this year, according to club vice president Fred Miranda.

“This is our big fund raiser this year so we put in an extra effort,” Miranda said. “It takes money to put it on, but this keeps our club going for the rest of the year.”

With over 30,000 square feet, it takes a lot of vendors to fill the space, according to Miranda.

Some vendors sat quietly while watching passers-by peruse their goods. But not Norman Keller of Reedsport, Ore., who was more animated and seemed to enjoy the interactions with potential customers. Keller, who had a pump driven train whistle, invited guests to give it a toot.

“But just four toots per person. Otherwise kids would toot that thing all day,” Keller explained. “If you want more, you’ll have to come back tomorrow!”

Vender Norman Keller explains the train whistle and the four toot limit.

Vender Norman Keller explains the train whistle and the four toot limit.

Some vendors at the show seemed to be doing quite well, which was evidenced by frequent exchanges of cash by anxious buyers. Others, like vendor Jim Moss of Albany, Ore., weren’t doing quite as well.

“It’s not about the money,” Moss said. “We’re here to have fun.”

A more sobering display was the train safety booth manned by retired railroad conductor Greg “Boomer” Boam. Boam, who has witnessed 18 individual train accidents during his 43-year career, shows videos of near misses and other train accidents while handing out safety literature.

The show which ran today, April 13, 2013, continues Sunday, April 14 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission is six dollars for ages nine and over and free for ages eight and under with an adult.

Retired conductor Greg Boam explains train safety at the train safety booth.

Retired conductor Greg Boam explains train safety at the train safety booth.

All in all, the train show was an enjoyable experience with the only disappointment being that this year the club’s own layout was only 14 by 20 feet which is smaller than in years past.

“We have a gypsy life style here. We have our modules and we mix and match and set up at various places around town,” Miranda said.

The club puts on displays at Valley River Center, the Food and Gift Festival, logging conventions, and small individual events.

Miranda, who has been with the club for nine years, likes the technical part of model railroading including building the layouts and making the scenery. Others, he explained, simply enjoy running the trains or doing the electrical work.

“I still have my original 1946 Lionel train which is what got me interested in this way back when. It’s something that doesn’t get out of your blood,” Miranda said.

The club, which has approximately 60 members, meets the second Saturday of each month at 7:30 p.m. in the large community meeting room at Eugene Water and Electric Board off 4th Ave. in Eugene. The club dues are $25 annually which includes the club newsletter.

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