Full steam ahead

3/18/2013

Train enthusiasts gather for annual model train show in Garden City.

Train enthusiasts gather for annual model train show in Garden City.

By SCOTT AUST

saust@gctelegram.com

Model railroading is in Joe Meador's blood.

While operating his G-scale train, the biggest toy train size, Saturday during the Boot Hill Model Railroader show at the Finney County Fairgrounds, Meador, of Ingalls, said his interest in trains started with his great-grandfather who worked for the railroad.

From there, the interest in model trains started with a grandpa who collected Lionel trains — many, many trains.

"This is how crazy he was," Meador said with a laugh. "He actually built a second story room on top of his house. We're talking a huge room, like the size of three or four bedrooms. He had a huge layout, all around the walls, plus a big U-shaped deal in the middle. He was a fanatic about trains."

Meador, a teacher, said his dad and uncles collect trains in all different sizes, an uncle and cousin work in the hobby business, and his two sons, ages 10 and 6, each have starter train sets.

"It kind of gets in your blood," he said.

Saturday and Sunday's model train show was sponsored by Boot Hill Model Railroaders, a club of around 20 to 25 people from towns across southwest Kansas.

Mark Fisher, also of Ingalls, operated an On30 set built with a sawmill logging layout that he and another club member, Steve Wagner, built together. Fisher said he got into model trains about 20 years ago but really wasn't into them as a kid.

"I didn't have a train probably until I started teaching school. I was probably close to 30. I went to a train show in Dodge City one time and thought it was pretty cool stuff," Fisher said.

Some prefer the locomotives and cars, or assembling the track. Fisher said he really enjoys creating the miniature landscapes, like the mountains and sawmill.

"I like the fact you can make it look like something in real life," he said.

Brad Jackson, of Satanta, said he probably has close to 100 locomotives and 400 cars.

"I printed out an inventory list the other day and it was 15 pages long," he said. "I got my first train set when I was five, and it was this size. I've tried the other sizes and I keep coming back to this."

Jackson was running O-scale trains on Saturday, which is the second largest size and one he prefers over the smaller sizes. But the larger size trains do take some space to display and operate properly, and someday Jackson hopes to have something bigger to house his collection.

"I just like trains. I don't know why. My goal is to have a 40-feet by 80-feet shed to put my trains in. It's like collecting cars — you can get as fancy as you want or as simple.

Meador said he has seven locomotives and about 100 cars, most of which are stored when not taken to various model train shows. He is working on plans to create an outdoor layout at his home.

"One of the reasons it's called "G" is it stands for Garden. It's supposed to be outdoors," Meador said.

Years ago, Meador said, there was a Dr. Matthews in Garden City who had a huge layout in his yard for his G-scale train. He wants to do something similar.

"I'm going to put a fake retaining wall on the front. We have some outdoor stuff at the house and it's not even doing a loop yet, but it will be. It's a work in progress," he said.

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