Monday, December 12, 2011

Westchester Model Railroad Club's cars roll at nature center

From (New York's Lower Hudson Valley): Westchester Model Railroad Club's cars roll at nature center

GREENBURGH — As two model Amtrak trains barreled down the electric track, William Winston, 4, and Chad Smith, 5, started counting the string of cars before the silver trains vanished into a mountain tunnel.

"There were 12," said William. "I like the speed it goes."

Chad arrived at a more dramatic conclusion: "I want to stay here," he said.

The Winstons, of New Rochelle, and the Smiths, of Redding, Conn., were among the hundreds of people who showed up to watch the display of model trains by the Westchester Model Railroad Club at the Greenburgh Nature Center on Saturday.

The 180-square-foot spread featured, among other things, a wooden walking bridge, a barnyard scene, a village center, a farmhouse and a factory building.

The display runs 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. through Dec. 18.

Sal Mancino, one of 10 members of the club, said the models had been handmade by them over many years.

"It's a collaborative effort," said Mancino, a former computer programmer. "I do all the electrical work."

A replica of the Greenburgh Nature Center building was constructed by Dr. Paul Greenburg, an 84-year-old former podiatrist.

"It took me a couple of months to build," said Greenburg, who said he had a 450-square-foot display at his home in Hartsdale.

"This hobby is good for recreation, socialization and corollary education," said Greenburg. "As a small kid, I was crazy about trains."

For 4-year-old Ben Kalish, "trains are a passion," said his father, Jonas.

"He loves trains," said Jonas Kalish, of Ossining. "To see them going round and round is the biggest thrill he can get."

Tony Siano, a retired engineer, said he joined the club last year but had been "in the hobby for 35 years."

The question he was asked most frequently by the kids on Saturday, he said, was, "Can you make the trains go faster?"

Well, can he?

He turned a knob, and the trains picked up speed.

"Now a lot of the passengers have vertigo," said Siano. "And they are going to complain to their senators. 'Dear Senator ...' "

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