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Roundhouse Rail Days 'at-tracks' train lovers

July 22, 2007|By DAN DEARTH

MARTINSBURG, W.VA.-Kim Leaton said trains always have been close to his heart.

That fondness was evident Saturday at Roundhouse Rail Days, where Leaton and other members of the Shenandoah & Potomac Valley Garden Railway Club set up eight enormous toy train displays for spectators to enjoy.

Leaton, of Harpers Ferry, W.Va., said the club has invested thousands of dollars in its hobby, paying about $100 for cars and, in some cases, upwards of $250 for engines.

Entire sets can cost up to $5,000, Leaton said. A few of the members even have all-weather train sets running in their backyards.

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The club always is looking for new members to join its 45-member roster, treasurer Gary Tucker said.

Some of the members are invited to Washington, D.C., to set up a display around the national Christmas tree, Tucker said. In addition, the club auctions off train sets, and uses the proceeds to help charities.

"That's what it's all about," he said.

Martinsburg City Councilman Richard Yauger said the event started nine years ago.

It features an upscale flea market, Civil War re-enactors and bands, among other things.

Yauger said the B&O Roundhouse was built around 1850. Trains were brought there to change direction during their runs and receive maintenance, he said.

The Roundhouse was shut down in the 1980s, Yauger said. The county purchased the facility from CSX railroad about a decade later.

Yauger said the city wants to renovate the building for people to hold wedding receptions and similar events.

In the meantime, officials associated with the Roundhouse will use proceeds from Rail Days to help pay for the renovations and maintenance, he said.

Rosetta Chiofalo, one of the festival's organizers, said half of the money from the 50/50 drawing would be donated to the Berkeley County chapter of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

If you go

What: Roundhouse Rail Days

When: Today, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Where: Martinsburg Roundhouse Center, 100 E. Liberty St., Martinsburg, W.Va.

Admission is $5 for adults and free for children 12 and younger.

For information, go to www.martinsburgroundhouse.com.

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