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Different aspects to the appeal of model train show

Thunder Creek Model Train Show that will feature approximately 35 exhibitors when it is held at the Western Development Museum on March 23-24

Bill Ash admits that it wasn’t the trains that actually drew him to model trains as a hobby.

“Unlike a lot of guys in our club who have been in the hobby for 35 to 45 years and have vast collections of model trains, I think I’ve always been more fascinated by the dioramas that are created,” said Ash, who has been a member of the Thunder Creek Model Railroad Club for five years.

When the hobby first piqued his interest, Ash was preparing to retire and thought he might take up a new hobby occupy some of his new free time.

“The club had a bit of a workshop for a couple of weekends back in the beginning when I was thinking about it,” Ash recalled. “They gave demonstrations of how to do landscaping and how to make trees and build structures. I attended those and then I saw an ad in the paper for a small N Scale model train set. A guy that was 96 years old wanted to sell this because he was having trouble with the small size and he wanted to turn around and buy the next size up, HO Scale, at age 96. So I though, if he can do that at his age, maybe this isn’t a bad retirement hobby.”

Ash is this year’s chairman of the annual Thunder Creek Model Train Show that will take place on March 23-24 at the Western Development Museum in Moose Jaw.

This year, approximately 35 exhibitors will attend and exhibit a combination of active, working train displays, static displays of trains and train paraphernalia and memorabilia. There will also be some dealers on hand that will sell model trains and model train accessories.

“There will also be three or four people who will be selling parts of their model train collections,” Ash said. “We have model train clubs from Saskatoon, P.A. and Regina. We also have one coming from Calgary. We have dealers coming from Calgary, Regina, Nanton, Alberta and there’s one coming from British Columbia as well.”

The train show will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday. The event is free for WDM members, otherwise regular museum admission applies.

“For kids, of course, there will be the Lego group there again,” Ash said. “They always have a train done in Lego and a lot of different things that they’ve built in Lego.”

As Ash’s interest in the hobby shows, you don’t have to be a train buff to enjoy the intricate dioramas or the attention to detail that is on display at the annual show.

“The neat thing about the train show is that these models, these layouts and displays are always evolving,” said Karla Rasmussen, education/public programs coordinator for the Western Development Museum Moose Jaw. “I don’t think that they’re ever, really, truly finished building these things. They’re so creative and enthusiastic about what they’re doing.

“If you’ve never been, I always tell people that they will be blown away by the expansiveness of it. It basically overtakes the whole gallery space. It starts off in aviation and winds its way all the way around to the rail gallery. It’s quite phenomenal.”

While the displays are always changing and evolving, Ash said that there is also always someone new who attends for the first time.

“For the person who watches very closely to some of these displays, to me the key part is the little scenes that are created in such a small scale. When you have an HO Scale model train, that’s a scale of 1:87, so everything on that table is to that scale — the people are, the buildings are, the trees are, not just the trains. That’s what I find the most interesting part of it all,” said Ash who as acted as registrar for the train show for the previous three years as well.

“We love the Western Development Museum, especially here in Moose Jaw, because it is the museum of transportation and it forms quite a nice backdrop for our show.”

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