All aboard for amodel train auction

April 17, 2006|by BONNIE H. BRECHBILL


Agnes Jurgens' basement was full of model trains for years.

"There were shelves and shelves, boxes and boxes, of trains," she said.

Her husband, Harry, "could run eight or 10 all at the same time" on the 10 foot-by-28 foot layout he built.

"He liked the O-gauge trains and the O-27 gauge," she said.

Agnes and Harry Jurgens were married almost 56 years. He was 79 when he died in September 2005.

The decision to sell her husband's collection was not difficult, she said.

"We knew that when he died no one would keep track of those trains. They need to be kept dry and kept in operation. They rust easily."


The collection is to be sold Wednesday, starting at 1 p.m., at Gateway Gallery Auction.

The 276 lots of mostly Lionel trains include engines and tenders, convention cars, boxcars, passenger cars, transformers, cabooses and many accessories for the layout.

"He had an ice house, cattle cars, some standard-size trains, old transformers and many varieties of old and new trains. Some had not been taken out of the boxes," Jurgens said. "I liked the aquarium cars with the wavy glass and fish swimming in them. And there's one where a cowboy and the bad guy pop up and shoot at each other when going down the track."

And, she said, "There are train cars with airplanes that are being transported, automobiles that can run on train tracks, some cars with snow plows, and a wedge plow that is old. He had commemorative cars from various conventions and some Disney collections. The color of the car determined its value in some editions of cars."

Some of the trains date to the 1920s, she added.

Sometime in the 1960s, Harry Jurgens and his son, John, started collecting trains.

When John was growing up in Geneva, N.Y., he and his father "always put the trains up in the fall and played with them until springtime," he recalled from his home in Seattle.

"Dad and I built the layout as far as we had equipment and room to expand. About the time I was finishing high school, we were introduced to the Train Collectors Association and the Toy Train Operating Society. Both of these organizations opened up a whole new world for Dad to collect and talk trains with other collectors.

"Around that time, I went into the Navy. I collected some trains as I moved around and sent them home. Dad continued to work on the layout and started repairing trains for others. Eventually, he managed to become an authorized service station for Lionel," in 1977.

When the family moved to Chambersburg, Lionel did not permit Jurgens to maintain his license because there already was a service shop in the area.

"Dad kept repairing trains for others and he built a bigger layout at the new home to run more of the trains. I was living in Washington state by this time. I still sent along equipment as I found something I thought Dad would like."

John Jurgens said that when boxing up the trains for the auction he kept several for sentimental reasons.

"The bulk of the collection is good and would fit into most people's collections," he said. "There are some special-quality items that could go into some top-notch collections. All of the trains Dad and I collected were trains that interested us and were within our price range. We didn't have a lot of extra money to spend but we had fun with the money and time we spent. I think we did a good job and gathered up a respectable collection."

Harry Jurgens also worked on some real trains, Agnes Jurgens said.

He worked on the caboose for the visitors center on Lincoln Way East and on the train car at Grant Street Station, helping to restore the interior. Both of the cars are now in Fayetteville, Pa., at Norlo Park.

Auction Wednesday

A cataloged public auction of Harry Jurgens' trains will be at Gateway Gallery Auction, 1643 Kriner Road in Chambersburg, Pa.

An auction preview will be Tuesday from 5 to 7 p.m.

Catalogs are available online at or by calling 717-263-6512.

The Herald-Mail Articles