Model train club displays three-year project at summer fair

Kristen McEwen
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People of all ages found themselves stopping at the model train display to watch two locomotives cruise around the tracks at the Exhibition Hall during the summer fair on Friday.

Vince Parker fixes a model train after a derailment at the Prince Albert Model Railroaders display at the Exhibition Hall during the summer fair on Friday.

It’s taken three years for members of the Prince Albert Model Railroaders to build the landscape to this stage.

According to club members Vince Parker and Jim Wenzel, the display is a constant work in progress.

“It’s never complete -- there’s always more changing and more fixing up than anything else,” Vince Parker said.

The model set on display at the exhibition features a miniature Prince Albert pulp mill at one end of the track. At the other end lies a mountain, with tunnels for the trains to pass through. The rest of the landscape is filled with a number of small houses, grain elevators and trees.

“Whatever you can imagine, whatever is out there can be replicated in various scales,” Parker said.

The club began building the scenery with the paper mill.

“What happened was we ended up with four tracks and we didn’t know how to hide them so we thought of the paper mill,” Parker said.

Both Wenzel and Parker have been interested in model trains since they were young.

In his childhood, Parker used to live near railways and his interest evolved as a result.

“I never worked on railways but there were always trains going backwards and forwards in those days,” he said.

Wenzel owned his first train set when he was eight years old. Although his interest grew when he and his oldest grandson collaborated on building a coffee table, incorporated with model train tracks.

“We put everything together and just started to go from there,” Wenzel said.

Wenzel owns the black 482 cab-forward steam powered locomotive that tours the display tracks. The miniature version is based on the locomotives used in the United States during the early 1900s. When the trains passed through the tunnels, the cab-forward model was designed in a way so the crew wouldn’t suffocate from the exhaust coming from the engine.

“What we’re trying to do is have fun and at the same time learn things,” Wenzel said. “This is the only hobby I know of that … uses every (school) subject you can ever take.”

Subjects such as geometry, physics, chemistry and art are utilized when creating sceneries.

“Here, we’ve got electricity,” Wenzel said. “Now, we’re going into computer chips. It’s a hobby (where) there’s so many things you can choose from.”

The group, also known as the River Crossing North club, was officially formed in 2007.  The club only began exhibiting at the fair four years ago. Member ages range from 14 to 83 years old.

“We try and have as much fun as we can we’re not overly serious,” Wenzel said. “You just can’t be.”

Organizations: Prince Albert, River Crossing

Geographic location: United States

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