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Large crowd smitten with seamless detail during the Waynesboro Model Railroad Club open house

January 14, 2012|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI | alnotarianni@aol.com

WAYNECASTLE, Pa. — It is an idyllic, hustle-bustle village in mostly handmade miniature.

Multiple trains quietly whir up mountainsides, over bridges and through caves, past a ballpark, a ski lodge and an ice plant where locals earn a living.

It is a work of carpentry, artistry and electronic craftsmanship all rolled into one.

About 300 people crowded to view it Saturday, smitten with the seamless, detailed, well-oiled machine before them at the Waynesboro Model Railroad Club open house at the Old Mill Building in Waynecastle.

Club vice president Ed Ingels, 72, said the group bought the building in 1991.

"The guys wanted a place to go and play with trains," he said.

Today, it is home to two floors full of layouts of three different scales of trains — HO, O and N.

Ingels said "all kinds of talent" goes into creating a model train display. Benchwork requires carpentry skills to establish a structure; an artistic touch is needed to meld stick, wire and plaster into hills and valleys, and to cut in, paint and embellish with rocks, rivers and foliage; and electrical components call for a tradesman's skill. Just one of the club's layouts uses five miles of wire, Ingels said.

The result of the collaboration is a sight that draws an equally diverse group of visitors.

"Kids love it," Ingels said, "and it reminds older people of when they were kids."

An older man shuffled among the layouts, slowly pushing a toddler who was perched on the seat of his walker. Each of them pointed, gasping from time to time saying, "Look at that."

Maggie Clingan of Williamsport and her husband, Terry, both collect trains, and their son, Justice, has developed an interest as well. Maggie stood contemplating the extensive 13-train O-gauge, or Lionel, display.

"I've already taken two trips around and I haven't seen everything," Clingan said. "I keep seeing something new. I am amazed. The detail is awesome."

Terry Clingan had stayed back fascinated by another layout. Justice was hanging out in the control tower where he'd made fast friends with the model railroad club president.

"I think we're gonna be here a while," Maggie Clingan said.

Up on the raised platform before an array of lights and blueprints, club president John Chillas, 67, of Greencastle, Pa., talked layouts, variations, engines and push pulls with Justice.

While Chillas discussed the many reasons people become train enthusiasts, Justice said he was drawn to the science behind the trains. Besides, he comes by his passion honestly, he said.

"My mom was so excited (by one layout) she went berserk," Justice said.

David Burkholder of Chambersburg, Pa., and his wife, Christine, took their 3-year-old son, Christian, to the open house.

"I grew up on trains and now Christian is into them. It's kind of a father-son thing," David Burkholder said.

Hugh and Fran McGovern of New Windsor, Md., drove about an hour with their daughter Keelin, 7, and son Ewen, 5, to see the displays. Hugh said the family dabbles in the model train hobby. The open house gave him inspiration for projects to try at home.

"The smaller trains give you ideas of what you can do in small spaces. The larger ones take up more space, but you can do it if you use the space right," Hugh McGovern said. "There is always something to learn, some new ideas."

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