There was a common denominator between the hundreds of people who came to Saturday’s opening day of the Carolina Coastal Railroaders show and the trains they came to see — both were all ages and sizes.
The 16th annual show, which continues today at New Bern High, featured a lobby full of vendors with any possible train or accessory. Inside the gym, there were 10 layouts — complete with detailed miniature scenery — and trains of varying sizes and historic reference.
Nic and Juanita Nicastro come from Newport to the show each year and walk away with memories and bags of trains and parts.
“I’m a collector, an operator and an accumulator,” he said of his own home layout, which measures more than 13 by 19 feet, with three different train “yards.”
He had trains as a child and when the couple started a family in the early 1970s, they wanted trains for the children.
He saw a want ad for trains for sale, so he bought six two-foot-square boxes. The Nicastros were off and running as collectors.
“It’s a toy,” he said of trains. “And I’m just a bigger kid.”
Juanita said that while collecting trains that date to the 1900s, it had given her a sense of watching changes in the way American manufacturing has changed over the years in production and materials, from tin to injection plastics.
Allison Stusse of Havelock brought her sons Noah, Henry and George — ages 2 to nearly 6 — because “They love trains. They have trains, too many trains.”
The Stusse brothers are still in the early stages of train love, with wooden trains that they have to push around the tracks.
“But, they build new track every day,” said their mother, as the three boys pointed and intently watched larger motorized miniatures in front of them at the Garden Railway Society’s layout.
The Great Train Expo is a national, traveling show that caters to the model railroad enthusiast. The show features 200-500 tables of train dealers, who offer everything from…
HO Scale, N Scale, Lionel (O Gauge), G Gauge, Z Scale, American Flyer (S Gauge), hobby tools, die-cast vehicles, train whistles, scenery items, Railroadiania Slides, t-shirts, videos, railroad gift items, books, photos and much, MUCH MORE !
The show offers a variety of operating model railroad and toy layouts for the entire family to enjoy in many different scales and gauges. Check them out and get some great ideas for your own layout! If you’re interested in joining a local model railroading club, the Great Train Expo is a great place to visit some of the different clubs in your area and learn more about them. Visit http://www.trainexpoinc.com
For the past year I’ve been compiling a list of model train stores for my model railroading website. These shops all look like a lot of fun to visit, but what are the most popular? Here is a list for the states of North Carolina and South Carolina.
The most popular model railroading shops (based on online chatter) in North Carolina and South Carolina are:
10. The Hobby House in Hendersonville, North Carolina
9. Todd’s Train Depot in Wendell, North Carolina
8. Little Choo Choo Shop in Spencer, North Carolina
7. Rail and Spike Trains in Easley, South Carolina
6. The Train Loft in Winston Salem, North Carolina
5. Factory Direct Trains in Asheville, North Carolina
4. Blue Ridge Hobbies in Greenville, South Carolina
3. Time Zone Hobbies and Toys in Aiken, South Carolina
2. Tom’s Train Station in Raleigh, North Carolina
…and the most popular shop for model trains in North Carolina or South Carolina is…
1. Greensboro Electric Trains in Greensboro, North Carolina
Hobby shops not quite making my top 10 were ABC RC Hobby in Forest City, North Carolina; Chuck’s Trains in Landis, North Carolina; Dry Bridge Station in Mount Airy, North Carolina; Hayes Hobby House in Fayetteville, North Carolina; Leland’s Toy Trains and Planes in Hildebran, North Carolina; Zoo Toys and Trains in Wilmington, North Carolina; Hobby Station in Bethune, South Carolina; New Brookland RR and Hobby in West Columbia, South Carolina; SVC Trains in Georgetown, South Carolina; and The Great Escape Bicycles and Hobby Shop in Spartanburg, Anderson, and Greenville, South Carolina.
The North Raleigh Model Railroad Club (NRMRC) is the N Scale NTRAK model railroad club in North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park area, one of the best areas in the USA to live and work.
Founded in 1974, NRMRC members are dedicated to furthering the hobby of N-Scale model railroading through educational activities, community involvement and public displays. The Club models all railroads and welcomes new members, especially newcomers to the hobby. There is always plenty to do and learn, so come and join the fun. Check the Club’s News and Information page for meetings and the next train show in this area.
It started as a passing fancy of a sort for one South Durhamite — one which came to take up a bit more space in his garage with each passing year: a collection of miniatures that form ghastly and ghoulish villages.
And it drew children from around the neighborhood for the past six years, an ever-larger porcelain portfolio that crowded out cars and lawn-mowers to make space for October’s fun frights.
Now, this spooky hobby has finally outgrown “Wolfman” Tim Gabriel’s home, and found a home this Halloween season at the Museum of Life & Science. Gabriel’s “Halloween Village” opened at the North Durham family favorite today and will be on display until November 1, perched over near the space exhibits in the museum.
Gabriel’s worked throughout the year to find a new home for his exhibition, whose very history is an interesting sidelight for a man who fills his days working in the financial department for IBM down at the Park.
“I’ve always loved Halloween, and I started building a village in my garage, so that the children could enjoy it in my neighborhood,” Gabriel told BCR while he and a crew of family and friends toiled away to set up the village this weekend.
As the display grew — to take up more than 200 sq. ft. in his garage of animated and illuminated Halloween fun — he wanted to find a bigger, better seasonal home for the show.
THE NEWLY COMPLETED “town” of Lakey Flats comes complete with railroad tracks as part of a complex model railroad display under construction by the Black Cat Club.
Miniature railroad cars wind around hills, through tunnels and between tiny towns in a large HO model railroad display currently under construction by the Yadkin Valley Chapter of the National Railroad Historical Society, more commonly known as the Black Cat Railroad Club.
The club is working on the final phase of the display, as they finish a model railroad station complete with turntable and a latticed network of switching tracks.
“We’re all railroad nuts,” said club member Bob Fink about his fellow members’ passion for the project, currently under way at the club’s headquarters at the former Wilkes Art Gallery on Elizabeth Street in North Wilkesboro.
“Some of us are just plain nuts,” said member Jim Davenport, laughing. “But that’s OK.”
The model train display is built entirely in HO scale, the standard for model railroad trains. It comes with miniature buildings, cars and people in model towns called Plexico Junction, which has a power plant; Lakey Flats, which has its own fast food chicken restaurant; and Union Station, with its own central railway station.
Along the way are model versions of motor vehicle crashes, logs tumbling off a railroad car, an apple orchard with bee gums nearby, and a moonshine still hidden behind some trees.