Trevor Clark has collected model trains since he was a child. Now, the 50-year-old man from North Lewisburg in Champaign County has more than 100 complete train sets, including a ride-scale train on 3 acres in his backyard.
Clark attended the Great Train Show at the Ohio Expo Center on Saturday, with bags of train parts and scenery for his models in his hand and 10-year-old nephew Cooper Harshfield and two friends at his side.
“It’s just something that’s always interested me,” Clark said. “I didn’t play sports, I hung out with my grandpa and my dad. My grandpa was a boilermaker for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroads. … All of us would’ve loved to work for the railroad, but it wasn’t hiring.”
The group came to see the model trains and shop for their sets at the show, which features exhibitors with items for sale, including starter sets for around $50, and model train groups showing off their work, said Bill Grove, show manager.
“You can be running trains around by the time you get home today,” he said.
The Great Train Show, which travels all over the country, has been coming to Columbus for at least 30 years, Grove said, and averages about 3,000 to 4,000 visitors over its two-day run here.
It will be in the Lausche Building at the Ohio State Fairgrounds from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, and admission is $10. It was also open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.
Grove said the show is a good opportunity for those interested in the hobby to see everything that can be done, with the show featuring operating layouts for tracks and trains of all different sizes and scales.
The models on display range from vintage to brand new ones that can be remote-controlled from a smart phone, he said.
The scenes also vary widely, with one 6,000-square-foot model track showing farmland, fruit stands, logging areas, coal depots, mountains, bridges and more.
Enthusiasts who live close to the Expo Center usually come to the show whenever it’s in town, Grove said, in order to see what’s new and shop for parts they can’t find in local hobby shops.
“We have every conceivable type of model and railroad component,” he said of the approximately 40 exhibitors.
For those who aren’t involved in the hobby, the show is “still really impressive,” he said, and can help those interested get started in the hobby.
Though it might seem like a hobby that takes up a lot of room, Grove said there are local clubs that allow people to work on models outside of their homes and also do regimented types of sections of tracks that measure a few feet square that people could work on at home and then connect to a larger track.
Beth Kloes, a member of the Columbus Garden Railway Society, was seated at the group’s table, right behind its display titled “The Field Farm.”
Kloes, of Grove City, has always been interested in trains and joined the society four years ago, around the time she and her husband built a garden track at their home.
Garden trains are outside and are the largest size of model trains. Kloes enjoys garden railways because she also loves to garden and modeled hers after logging trains in West Virginia.
The society is open to all and loves to share the hobby and help people make their own train models work without spending a fortune, she said.
The show exhibitors were offering more than model trains and scenery for tracks. There were also T-shirts, buttons, magnets, toys, train whistles, children’s books, how-to books and more, including a play area for kids.
“You really can see everything here,” Grove said. “Even if you’re not into the hobby, it’s still just a cool experience.”