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A fun time for all: The Ninth Annual Model Train Display and Show brings joy for all ages to the National Guard Armory this weekend

 Intricate, imaginative displays are key to the model-train magic.
Andrew Morris
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Date published: 12/6/2007

by Tierney McAfee

Locust Grove resident Jim Kerley received his first model train from his father on the day he was born. Fifty-nine years later, his love for model trains abounds--he is president of Rappahannock Model Railroad Club and proprietor of Locust Grove Trains.

"I kept an interest in trains all through my life. It's in your blood," Kerley said. "And once I started a family, I really got back into it again."

Current train fans--and those looking to get back on track for the holidays--can get their cabooses in gear and go to the railroad club's ninth annual Model Train Display and Show this weekend.

Kerley says the show is the perfect way to get in the holiday spirit, because it often evokes a sense of nostalgia for many baby boomers who woke to the whistles of their train sets on Christmas morning.

"The sight, the sound and the smells trigger a memory for somebody who might have had a train layout when they were younger," Kerley said. "People like it because they really miss what they had in their youth. You see these trains operating now and you're captured again by the same thrill you had as a child."

But Kerley says those who aren't train savvy will still appreciate the display, which will feature festive operating trains, many with built-in sound effects and smoke.

"They're beautiful to watch," he said. "They're like little pieces of art going around."

According to Kerley, this will be the club's biggest show ever, with six layouts of different sizes running and about 1,000 train items for viewers to enjoy. They are expecting a couple of thousand people over the two-day period.

Kerley says some of the displays at the show will be interactive. Those who attend will be allowed to use the remote-control system to speed the train up, slow it down, blow the whistle and ring the bell. Children will also be permitted to operate the trains under supervision.

"Children get pretty excited when they come in and see all this running," he said. "And they're even more thrilled when they realize they can take part in it."

The club will be supported by local merchants from Locust Grove Trains, Quilts 'n Treasures--which will provide souvenirs, face painting and more for the little ones--and Smith Thompson, which will provide door prizes and train-related souvenirs.

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What: The Rappahannock Model Railroad Club's ninth annual Model Train Display and Show

When: Saturday, Dec. 8, and Sunday, Dec. 9, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Where: National Guard Armory

Cost: $5 for adults and $1 for children ages 4 to 12