- Associated Press - Monday, November 3, 2014

SEYMOUR, Ind. (AP) - Two brothers from Seymour shouted and pointed when they caught a glimpse of multiple model trains revolving around tracks at Trinity United Methodist Church on Saturday afternoon.

“Look at that train!” 5-year-old Rylan Adair said to his 3-year-old brother, Corbin. The boys, just tall enough to peer over the edges of the tables, were mesmerized by sight of so many tracks and trains.

The trains, some with lights and sounds, circled landscapes of all sorts including lakes, bushes, boulders and shops - all created in a miniature size. There was even a church, a sawmill and a KFC restaurant - the size of game board pieces.

The display was all part of the Southern Indiana Model Railroad Association’s fall open house.

The club, with members of all ages ranging from 70 to preschool-age (a grandson of one member), meets weekly to discuss model railroading or local railroad history. They also operate and sit back and watch the trains while socializing.

Each year in the fall, the 10-year-old group offers the public a chance to come out and see what sparks club members’ interest in the hobby involving operating model trains.

Robyn Adair brought sons Rylan and Corbin for that reason.

“My boys love trains a lot,” she told The Tribune (https://bit.ly/10jnLHE ).

She said her boys were first introduced to Thomas the Tank Engine and their interest has taken off. They’ve attended a few of the local club’s events in Seymour and have even traveled to Louisville for a train expo and took a train ride in French Lick.

Rylan, who wants to be an engineer when he grows up, said the sounds of the train are his favorite part.

“When they honk the horn,” he said.

Wearing gray matching T-shirts, club members set up shop and greeted onlookers at Saturday’s event.

One of those was Jerry Memmer, who joined about four years ago.

The 71-year-old Franklin resident said he frequents Seymour often to remain involved.

Memmer was surrounded by locomotives when he was growing up.

“All of my mom’s family were railroaders,” he said. “I was always around that stuff.”

As a sophomore in high school, Memmer said he even helped drive a train one time, an event he recalls with fondness.

“I ran a locomotive one time with the engineer kind of hovering over me,” he said. “(We’re) going down the tracks 70 miles an hour with a passenger train.”

Memmer said that interest held strong and grew into a hobby with model trains.

“It’s kind of like building your own game board,” he said, referring to the carpentry, tracks, wiring, scenery and the overall maintenance of the hobby.

One of the club’s younger members, Chance Russell, also helped to oversee the running trains Saturday.

The eighth-grader at Seymour Middle School joined the group when he was in elementary school.

His interest for trains began at age 3, and after visiting a few of SIMRA’s events, he decided to join as a member.

His mom, Robin Russell, is the secretary for the group as well.

“I mainly like the fact that you can run trains,” Chance Russell said of the organization. His own equipment is at his grandma’s house but isn’t as easily accessible, he said.

The president of the organization, Bob Bicknell, said the group is always looking for new members - any age or gender.

The Seymour resident said a lot of times, members will bring along their family members to join, too.

The goal of their weekly gatherings is to “bring out the kid” in each other.

“Some of us are still kids,” the 73-year-old joked.

Bicknell said his love for model trains dates back to when he was just a boy when his grandmother gave him and his brother a pre-World War II electric train.

The train remains in his possession today, along with the transformer and some of the old track.

“It’s worth about $3,000,” he said, adding his grandmother probably spent $20 to $30 on it originally.

Bicknell said in addition to the fall event, the association sets up displays at the Jackson County Public Library in Seymour during Kids Fest, and at schools and nursing homes - often giving away a free train and track.

He said watching the kids enjoy their time at the events is always fun.

“I enjoy watching the kids’ eyes light up,” he said. “Especially the little ones.”

Bicknell acknowledges that model railroading can be an expensive hobby to get involved in but it can be fulfilling.

The members tend to create fellowship with each other, welcome all newcomers and swap knowledge with one another.

After all, the group often spends hours together building and setting up operating model railroad trains to display. And they do it without blueprints - only with a vision of how it should look.

“We all learn from it and just love it,” Bicknell said.


Information from: The (Seymour) Tribune, https://www.tribtown.com

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