I got the surprise of my life when people were complaining about a DR editorial. You mean the BYH column is not the...

Model train show coming to Winterville

1 of 4

A model train is set up in Charles Alford's attic on Oct. 3, 2018. (Molly Mathis/The Daily Reflector)

Train show 2.jpg

By Tyler Stocks
The Daily Reflector

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Model passenger and freight trains, big and small, will chug along this weekend inside the Winterville Train Depot.

Railroad fans will be able to conduct the locomotives as they watch them travel along intricately constructed train tracks complete with miniature towns and cities featuring detailed landscapes and backdrops.

This year is the first time the Eastern Carolina Railroaders will exhibit their masterpieces in Winterville. The 20-year-old nonprofit club is geared toward anyone who appreciates, operates or collects model trains. Meetings are held monthly.

“To celebrate our 20th anniversary, we want some more local involvement,” organizer Charles Alford said. “We’ve been all over to Atlanta, Kansas City, Chicago, York Pennsylvania. We thought it was time to get something going locally.”

The train show will be held Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Winterville’s historic train depot located at 217 Worthington St. Admission is free but donations are welcome. The Lionel Collectors Club of America, a national train club, is donating door prizes including model train cars, that will be given away at the event.  

Alford said he just wants families to come out and enjoy the thrill of watching and interacting with trains.

The Eastern Carolina Railroaders club plans to pull old layouts out of retirement and run them alongside their modular display layouts, he said.

In addition to rare layouts being put on display, some of the featured layouts include a prewar tinplate featuring colorful tin trains from the 1920s and ’30s, a post-war layout with trains and accessories from the 1950s, a Harry Potter layout featuring a Lego Hogwarts Castle, a Thomas the Tank Engine modular layout for children and a large, modern-era Lionel Collectors Club of America modular layout running the Vision Line Big Boy.

Alford said the layouts have operating accessories that attendees can operate by the push of a button.  He noted that trains continue to inspire young minds and bring delight to children.   

“Trains have caught the imagination of children for ages and they’re modeled after the real thing,” Alford said.

Alford, who grew up playing with trains since the age of five, said the purpose of the show is to foster interest in model trains and recruit new model train fans who want to participate in the hobby. 

“My father was a yardmaster for the Atlantic and East Carolina railroad in New Bern so I grew up with trains,” he said. “The house we had was right in front of the train tracks in New Bern. Been in it ever since. I’ve even kept the trains that my father bought me in the 1940s.  

Alford who founded the Eastern Carolina Railroaders group in 1998, has been actively involved with train clubs including the Lionel Collectors Club of America and the Train Collectors Association for more than two decades. He even served as the TCA’s secretary of the southeastern division for 20 years.

Alford along with a dozen volunteers plan to set up shop at the Winterville train depot on Friday. He said that getting things ready usually takes several hours.  He is hoping that the plethora of diesel and steam engines, passenger trains, freight trains, cattle cars, and log cars and meticulously designed layouts will bring people out to enjoy trains, as he has for so long.  

“We’re hoping for a big local turnout,” he said. “This is about introducing the hobby to the younger folks and trying to get them involved and just expanding the hobby. There will be something for everyone. We want people to come on out and have a good time.”

To learn more about the Eastern Carolina Railroaders or for more information on this event, visit the group on Facebook or call  714-8816.

Contact Tyler Stocks at tstocks@reflector.com or 252-329-9566