SACOM hosts 2nd St. Albans Train Show

Wednesday, January 4, 2006

A small organization puts on a small train show in a small town and what do you get? Trains, trains and more trains! The 2nd St. Albans Train Show was everything a train lover could ask for.

For SACOM's second trains show at the Hansford Center in St. Albans there were model trains in three scales, train videos playing, good food and even representatives from Operation Lifesaver explaining railroad crossing safety. If that weren't enough, a short walk west of the Hansford Center put you trackside at CSX's Coal River subdivision.

Nearly 1,500 people visited the Hansford Center November 1 - 3. They were treated to an N scale display of logging railroading presented by the Kanawha Valley N Scale Modelers. Dave Leake and crew put on a continues show of Alco diesels, shay and other small steam locos pulling loads of timber out of their N scale forests.

SACOM member Scott Cyrus and friend Doug Andre had a large C&O oriented O scale display on the stage of the Hansford Center. The large sound and smoke equipped toy trains kept visitors, young and old, lined up at the stage. Scott's model of a C & O 4-8-4 and Doug's C&O steam turbine were special treats that drew smiles from some older guests.

The O scale trains filled the stage at the Hansford Center, pleasing young and old alike.

The main attraction was the SACOM 40 X 8 foot HO modular display of St. Albans, WV, ARMCO Steel in Russel, KY and the Ashland, KY freight depot area. SACOM members have made great efforts to accurately model these areas using old photos, drawings and other research. Many of the houses and other buildings are scratch built or kit-bashed to duplicate trackside homes, railroad buildings and line side businesses.

C&O 277 stops at the St. Albans depot with the two car Coal River local. This beautiful little engine belongs to Charlie Montague. Typical of early C&O passenger locomotives, these 4-4-2 Atlantics ran until the late 1940s.

The SACOM motto, "Sharing History with Models" is evidenced in the detail and accuracy members build into each model displayed. Some members prefer to model the golden age of steam, 1947 and earlier, some the steam to diesel transition period, 1947 to about 1956 on the C&O, and others model the modern diesels of the Chessie System or CSX. Though members vary in the era they chose to model, the level of enthusiasm is the same.

As was not uncommon on C&O tracks in the early 1970s, Western Maryland SD-35 7435 rolls by the St. Albans yard office. Brian Gessel detailed this HO model.

Many visitors pointed to buildings and landmarks recreated on the HO display and commented on knowing "where that is" or remembering when "that building was still standing." Some visitors just enjoyed watching the trains.

Five year old Ariel Goodwin and Becky Butler get a close look as a coal train passes through St. Albans.

In addition to the operating model trains, Don Mills and Tom Tackett of West Virginia Operation Lifesaver made presentations to visitors on safety around trains and tracks. The presentations included video programs and coloring books for younger guests.

Matt Crouch gave two workshops for beginning modelrailroaders. Participants built and then kept an Athern boxcar.

Matt Crouch takes workshop attendees through the basics of building an HO scale boxcar.

The seniors of the Hansford Center provided really good food. With great bar-b- que, hot dogs, hamburger and delicious homemade deserts no one complained of going away hungry.

For those who prefer their trains a little bigger and louder, the CSX Coal River subdivision is less than a block west of the Hansford Center with plenty of locations to safely watch the real thing move coal off the river. CSX did their part with several trains rolling by behind modern GE and EMD power.

It seemed everyone could find something to enjoy at this show. Weather it was the large O scale trains bringing back memories of toys under the Christmas tree or the accurate modeling on the HO layout, each visitor found something to smile about.

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