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Train enthusiasts make tracks to show

November 28, 2009|By DAN DEARTH

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- Frank Schaller joked that boys abandon their model train collections when they discover girls and fast cars, but return to the hobby after they endure several years of marriage.

On Saturday, Schaller was among dozens of other model train enthusiasts who attended the Hagerstown Model Railroad Show at the Washington County Agricultural Education Center off Md. 65.

Schaller, vice president of the Hagerstown Model Railroad Museum Inc. in Sharpsburg, said the event began around 1990 and now is held three times a year to give collectors an opportunity to buy, sell and swap everything from model locomotives to miniature people, trees and water towers that are used to create displays.

He said people came to the event from as far as Altoona, Pa., and the Eastern Shore.

"We're expecting about 400," Schaller said. "Collecting is just something that gets in your blood."

Nancy Spicer, owner of Mail Bag Hobbies in Upperco, Md., said her sales were solid on Saturday.

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"It's a small show, but I do very well," Spicer said of the event. "That's why I come back."

Spicer said train shows account for about one-third of her business. Some of the most expensive items are model locomotives, which typically range from $5 to $500.

She said the cheapest item is a $3 container of track cleaner.

In addition to train shows, John McDowell of Greencastle, Pa., said he goes to public auctions to expand his collection.

He said he wasn't looking for trains Saturday, but did spend $15 to buy three miniature replicas of Caterpillar earth movers that he intends to place on his model flat cars to simulate heavy equipment being hauled.

"I found something that really caught my eye," he said. "Half of the fun is the hunt ... I'm a happy camper."

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