Arts and Entertainment

Ride the rails to the train show

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Self-proclaimed "train enthusiasts" are opening their magical miniature world to the public.

The North Olympic Peninsula Railroaders are hosting their 11th annual train show and swap meet Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 16-17, at Sequim Prairie Grange.

Hank Samson, club president, said more than 700 people attended the show last year.

People of all ages come to watch, listen and share a love of trains.

"One kid sat there for two hours last year," said Dick Wolf, a club member since 1999. "His mom had to get his dad to drag him out kicking and screaming."

The show allows many opportunities for children to engage in the hobby with a large wooden train set and hands-on controls for train displays.

"Kids get to go as fast as they want," Samson said.

One of the club members' goals is using the show as a resource for children and parents to promote the hobby.

Last year's show brought in new people, increasing membership from 29 to 36. Members are upping the ante this year by building bigger modular train displays to show off.

"We'll make it as big as we can we can make it," Wolf said.

Vendor tables and space has sold out, which is in line with last year - their biggest show yet. Admission remains free and donations and vendor fees make up the difference for the club.

"We don't make a lot of money but that's not the point," Samson said.

Getting started

Trains on display come in a variety of scales, HO - the most common, Z - the smallest, G - the garden type, and others.

Wolf said most people prefer HO-scale because it's the most common and lowest in price typically.

"It's smaller, you can do it inside and much easier to manage," Wolf said. "It's not too expensive to get a decent, in-house train layout. Let's just say you can get a nice, reliable engine with a little sound and tracks at the same price as a set of golf clubs."

Club members agree that a bulk of costs can go into railroad track. Ten

members have active layouts in their yards or houses and three of those have full garden railways.

Wolf, who finished his Carlsborg home's G-scale track in 2003, said there are more homeowners with outside tracks on the North Olympic Peninsula but they aren't members of the club.

He has about 400 feet of track circling a garden area filled with local plants and buildings. It took him about four years to complete but it appears to be a constant work in progress. Some days he works on trains 8-10 hours a day.

"You just keep adding to it," Wolf said.

He's added a track that leads around the side of his house and into a storage space in his shed.

Wolf spends his winters working on rail carts and

buildings that he custom builds. His track features about 20 buildings and cars each from scratch.

Cross country trek

Wolf, like many adults, fell back into a hobby he once loved as a boy. He played with model trains as a child, but didn't rediscover the passion until he and his wife, Evelyn, were in a motor home traveling. The couple found a copy of "Garden Railways" magazine and determined the hobby was for them.

"We figured it'd be a good fit for us," Wolf said. "It encompasses several aspects like mechanics, woodworking, gardening and more."

Evelyn embraces the hobby and leads landscaping and rock work projects.

"G-scale is a couple's hobby," she said. "It's a wonderful old man's hobby while great for young people."

The Wolfs' garden received national notoriety this summer when they were featured in the National Garden Railway Convention. Five gardens were featured in Sequim and Port Angeles and more than 300 people visited their home, the couple said.

"We would like to see more gardens like this," Evelyn Wolf said. "Sequim is ideal for train gardens."

As for model trains as a whole, she believes it brings everyone to the same level.

"There's some who spend a lot and some a little, but that's OK because we all have fun together," she said.

For more information on North Olympic Peninsula Railroaders, call Hank Samson at 683-5729.

North Olympic Peninsula Railroaders meets at 3 p.m., except December at the Sequim Library, 630 N. Sequim Ave., the last Saturday of each month. Their next meeting is Saturday, Oct. 30. Call Hank Samson at 683-5729 for more information.

Reach Matthew Nash at

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