From BlueRidgeNow.com: Model Railroad Club keeps chugging along
Three little girls raced around a model railroad layout Friday night at the Historic Train Depot on Seventh Avenue. They were each following a train as it chugged around the tracks, vanishing into tunnels and reappearing in different rooms.
Junior Engineer's Program
Krista Newman traveled two hours from Rock Hill, S.C., to bring her kids to the Apple Valley Model Railroad Club that night. The club offers the Junior Engineer program on the third Friday of every month, and Newman's second-youngest daughter, 9-year-old Dorothy, wanted to come for her birthday.
“We like it up here,” Newman said. “They get to do something they enjoy.”
Dorothy's favorite part? “Everything.”
The program, started about a year and a half ago by Apple Valley member Brian Tucker, helps young model railroad enthusiasts learn about the hobby. The kids participate in an operating session, where they run the model trains on schedules similar to those of real trains.
The kids are able to learn what they want, Tucker explained.
“We leave it up to their imagination,” he added. “Some want to see how many cars their locomotive will pull.”
The model railroad club has about 50 members, along with 16 junior engineers. Club members limit the number of junior engineers to eight to 10 per Friday session to give them a better opportunity to learn.
“I joined Apple Valley about four-and-a-half years ago, and I noticed there were a lot of the same kids coming in,” Tucker said. Some of the kids had their own model railroad layouts, while others were looking for a place to learn.
“A lot of the members are retired,” Tucker said. “There's a lot of talent — each one of them in their own way.”
His daughter, 15-year-old Morgan Tucker, also participated last Friday.
“I've been coming here for a few years, ever since my dad started it,” she said. “I just have a huge interest in trains and all the history that comes with it.”
“The kids, a lot of them, came with a lot of knowledge,” Brian Tucker said. “A lot of them work together.”
He added that it's interesting to watch as the parents get involved with the children. When the program first started, the parents would segregate themselves. Yet by the end of the night, “every one of them was involved with their son or daughter,” Brian Tucker said.
The program is by invitation only. The model railroad display is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays. During the Apple Festival, the display will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, with a locomotive from Operation Lifesaver that people can explore.
For more information, visit www.avmrc.com.