Train enthusiasts hit the model rails at WVU-P during annual show

PARKERSBURG – Model train enthusiasts turned out Saturday for the Mid-Ohio Valley Model Railroad Club 18th Annual Train Show and Sale at West Virginia University at Parkersburg.

Mark Suek of Parkersburg and a club member said the show is one the three largest in West Virginia. He said only shows in Huntington and Bluefield are larger.

“This is our biggest public event,” he said. “We use it as a fundraiser for our club to offset our operating expenses.”

Suek said they had 26 vendors for the sale and several members set up their model layouts.

In addition to the show, he said a number of Scouts from the University of Scouting event that took place at the same time came to do some of what they need to do to earn the model train merit badges and others worked toward their journalism merit badges by writing a story about the show.

Suek had a number of old-time railroad memorabilia to sell, that included lamps used by conductors from the 1920s to the 1940s. He also had some tools and pressure gauges used by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.

“We have different scales of model railroads equipment,” he said. “Anyone interested in model railroads, building a layout or thinking about it, you can find what you want here.”

Bill Ammann, president of the Mid-Ohio Valley Model Railroad Club, said the show was highlighting what he said is in danger of being a dying past time.

“A lot of people are still interested, but it’s mostly older people,” he said. “Not many younger ones are in this now.”

Ammann said the club tries to promote it for the younger people.

“We had the Boy Scouts here today; that was the perfect starting point,” he said. “The idea of the show is to make things available to the people.”

Ammann said the show takes the place of stores where model railroad items could be bought. He said there is one local store and the nearest locations for other stores are in Wheeling and Putnam County.

Ammann said the club’s website is compiling a list of stores.

C.C. Stuart had his portable N gauge set on display at the show. He said it helps children get a better look.

“I use it for testing, and the kids like it since it’s down where they can see it,” he said.

Stuart said the train he has and the larger HO gauge are the most popular among the model builders, but the older builders have a different preference.

“I run N gauge on all my displays, but I have some HO gauge pieces,” he said. “Most of the older guys like the older Lionel stuff – the O gauge – because that’s what they had when they were kids. It was their first train set. They have the three rails, like American Flyer.”

Suek said the club’s next event is the annual Holiday Open House. He said it will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 7 and 14 at the club’s facility in the rear basement of Noe Office Equipment at 610 Green St. There is no admission.