Rich Fox, a member of Great Bend’s model train club, has been busy recently sharing the Christmas spirit by transporting and setting up model trains around the city. A few weeks ago, he brought an HO gauge set out to Waters True Value Hardware. He brought an “old timey” steam locomotive G gauge to the Shafer Art Gallery, and a slightly more modern version that looks like an old narrow-gauge railroad to the Barton County Historical Museum which will be on display this weekend.
“Both look like Christmas trains,” he said.
Fox has had an affinity for the toy trains for many years, but became active with the club when Great Bend Fantasy Village closed, and the historical museum needed help transporting and setting up the kiddie train that once ran through the village to its new home.
“The kiddie-train has been the project of a few members,” Fox said. At first there were problems keeping the train on the track at the new location. After they finally had it working, club members brought one of the buildings from the village to the museum to use as a railroad depot. Visitors at the open house this weekend will also be able to take a ride on the train, providing the weather is good.
Volunteers were helping work out some of the operational bugs on the indoors model train Thursday morning. Fox was also putting finishing touches on the tiny Christmas village and surroundings that lend an air of magic to the display.
While for most people running the train is fun, perhaps the most enjoyable part of building a model train display for Fox is setting up the village and the landscaping. He puts hours into setting up mountains, hills, roadways, little cars, people, eveything to make it all look right, he said.
“Anybody can operate the train,” he said. There is a sign with a push button. Push it and the train runs chugs around the oblong track. Let off, and it stops. “ The kids love pushing that button. That way they’re in control and can make it go.” Plenty of big kids get a kick out of it too, he admits.
Fox’s collection has grown over the years. He has 24 sets of G gauge, two electric G gauge sets, two good sets of O gauge, and several O gauge accessories that belonged to his dad when he was a kid. He is also the recipient of a standard gauge set his mother received when she was six years old, in 1933. Fox researched the number on the train and learned it was made in 1925. Next year, he plans to have it ready for display as well.