by Matt Armstrong
RANSON - Hundreds of area residents got off their cabooses Saturday and came out to the Ranson Civic Center to take in the sights and spectacle of the Bunker Hill Train Club's biannual model railroad show.
The club's show, which has been going on for more than 10 years, has had to change venues several times because it keeps outgrowing buildings, and Saturday's show was the first time it had been held at the Ranson Civic Center, said Bunker Hill Train Club President Joe Vanorsdale, adding that the show offers something for almost any model railroad enthusiast.
"They just come here to find different model railroad stuff, the kids are trying to learn a new hobby ... some of your more advanced hobbyists are looking for different things, collectors are looking for different things," he said. "Everybody likes something different."
The train show showcased about 60 vendors with more than 150 tables set up, selling everything from antique model trains, scenery for model train displays and railroad memorabilia in the form of books, old magazines and train postcards.
Apart from the numerous vendors on display, several organizations set up various model railroad displays throughout the Civic Center.
Mel Agne, with the Western Maryland Railway Historical Society Inc., said his organization, which sets up displays at several train shows each year, designs its displays to demonstrate what the landscape might have looked like when the Western Maryland railroad was in its heyday during the '50s and '60s.
"Because we're part of the historical society, our mission is to depict the Western Maryland railway the way it appeared in a time frame that most people considered the glory days of railroading," Agne said. "It's quite rewarding when people come up and say, 'Oh, I know where this is,' without reading the sign."
As much as the train show might have been about education or railroading hobbyists, Vanorsdale said the main focus is trying to introduce kids to a new hobby that can be fun and inexpensive.
Andrew Study, a 6-year-old from Shepherdstown, was one such youngster eager to pore over the trains on display and the different pieces of memorabilia. Andrew said he's interested in trains because they're on tracks and there aren't that many around anymore.
Andrew's mom, Julie Study, said that Andrew and his dad enjoy building model train displays, and Andrew asks to go to a train show almost every other weekend.
"We started with Thomas (the Train), and he makes the wooden tracks and he gets really intricate now," Andrew's mom said. "He kind of advanced, about two years ago he started talking about 'I prefer the trains without face.'"
More than 500 people attended the show, and the Bunker Hill Train Club liked the Ranson Civic Center so much that it will hold its next train show at the venue on Oct. 22, Vanorsdale said. Additional information on the Bunker Hill Train Club or model railroading is available online at www.bunkerhilltrainclub.org.