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Twelve years on the little tracks
Tucked away inside a standard pole barn off Discovery Bay runs one of the most meticulously built model railways in the area.
Lauren Scrafford, organizer for this weekend’s North Olympic Peninsula Railroaders’ annual train show and swap meet, (see box) started constructing his HO-scale railway about 10 years ago.
Each train and car measures at 1:87.1 the size of actual trains.
His private world of trains and tracks measures about 30 feet by 24 feet, and his tracks run through a lumber mill, bridges, a train yard, and scenic re-creations of his former stomping grounds in St. Maries, Idaho, south of Coeur d’Alene.
Scrafford said his intention was to convert only half the barn to a model train railway, but the hobby just naturally took up most of the available space.
“It’s just a way to relax and get away,” Scrafford said.
He has a lot of ongoing projects and tries to spend an hour a day crafting a new railway car or painting landscape.
Each part of the display takes a lot of care from Scrafford, who thinks the little touches matter. He’ll paint the sides of train cars to look as though they’ve run through harsh conditions. He’s even hand painted every railroad tie for a look of authenticity.
“I’m not a realist,” Scrafford joked. “Some people count the ties for accuracy. I don’t have enough time in my life to care about that.”
Fellow model train enthusiast Dick Wolf said the display is one of the nicer ones he’s seen on the peninsula and he notices those little touches.
“It really adds a lot,” he said.
Firing up the engine
A love for trains came early for Scrafford.
He grew up in Idaho watching trains from the Milwaukee Road, a former railroad line, breeze by his home.
His father Andy Scrafford, a blacksmith and part-time sportswriter, bought Lauren his first trains.
“We had some trains growing up and put them on tracks and up on plywood inside the house, but nothing like this,” he said, gesturing to his home display.
“If you had a four (foot) by eight (foot) layout then that was considered a big one.”
He collected trains for years, but took a break until the 1980s when the collecting began again. His passion for the railroad expanded into photography, too.
A few times a year, he visits Canada specifically to take photos of trains. Some of his photos are published, including his train-hunting experiences when he lived in Albuquerque, N.M.
Scrafford marketed sports memorabilia for several years until he sold his business in Albuquerque in the early 1990s; he later retired as a manager with a car rental company before coming to the peninsula.
Along with playing for the Sequim Greywolves senior softball team, he splits his hobby time with trains.
Somewhere between getting base hits and completing another fine-tuned train accessory, Scrafford finds time to run Sequim’s annual train show.
Highball it to the show
North Olympic Peninsula Railroaders host the 12th annual show and swap meet Oct. 15-16, at Sequim Prairie Grange.
The event boasts train displays, including the club’s prize-winning modular display seen at the Clallam County Fair, door prizes, hands-on model displays, videos, vendors and more.
A number of train styles are run and shown, such as Wolf’s narrow gauge G (garden) variety at 1:22.5 scale. Each year he brings a portable display with video from the point-of-view of the train interchanged with a recording from his trains at home.
Wolf said at the show he met a grandmother and her autistic grandson who loved the video and watching the trains go around. He sent them a copy of a train video and later received a thank-you picture of the boy watching the video and a certificate of appreciation. Wolf invited the woman and her family over to see the trains and the boy was thrilled seeing the video come to life before him.
“That makes this even more worth it,” Wolf said.
Scrafford said they’ve seen some success in winning over new fans of model railroading.
“We’ve gained a few members, but just because you don’t increase your membership substantially doesn’t mean you haven’t brought an awareness to the club,” he said.
“We have a lot of kids who visit the show and we give away prizes and a train set. If two or three kids get involved in the hobby then it’s worth it.”
The North Olympic Peninsula Railroaders group meets at 3 p.m. the last Saturday of each month, except December, at Sequim Library, 630 N. Sequim Ave.