Train Days

Where: San Bernardino County Museum, 2024 Orange Tree Lane, Redlands

When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today

Admission: $8 for adults, $4 for children ages 5-12, $5 for students with ID, $6 for seniors or military, free for children younger than 5

Photo Gallery: Train Days

REDLANDS - The humming of electric motors, the clacking of model trains running along tracks and exclamations of excited children filled the halls at the San Bernardino County Museum on Saturday, the opening of the two-day Train Days.

Train Days is when model train enthusiasts gather at the museum to share their hobby. The two-day event is also the museum's biggest annual draw. Planners expected to welcome some 3,000 people each day.

"It's nice to share this with the young kids," said exhibitor Bill Martinez of Riverside. "Kids get to see trains like this, and the older people get to remember."

Martinez spent his time at Train Days showing his model of a Lionel-made Sante Fe freight train rolling through a model neighborhood made to resemble San Bernardino County during the height of the Route 66 era.

Martinez said he's had an interest in trains since childhood. Another modelist at the show said it's common for train hobbyists to play with train sets as youngsters and regain their enthusiasm for model trains later in life.

"That's a typical story. People who play with trains as adults had trains as a kid," said Mark Williams, a retired librarian who lives in Redlands. "Life gets in the way. You have a career, a wife, you have kids. And then the bug bites you again."

For at least one family at Train Days, the show is an annual tradition.

Visitors new to the world of model trains could not only observe the craftsmanship on display, but also learn the basics of model trains.

For example, the popular HO scale of model train replicates the real thing at a 1:87 ratio. The smaller N scale trains are built to a 1:160 ratio.

And of course, there's more to the hobby than the trains themselves - there's also the model landscapes and cities for the trains to roll through.

"A lot of scenery and a lot of space," exhibitor Rus Kochie of the Antelope Valley N Scalers club said.

"That's part of the luster of the hobby itself," he said later. "Everything works and it's in miniature."


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