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Mini trains rolling down the tracks

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Since the invention of the steam-powered locomotive in the early 1800s, there has been a mystical fascination with these massive and ground-shaking mechanical monsters for both children and adults alike. Most of us remember the American folk tale based on the true story of Casey Jones and, of course, The Little Engine That Could, along with that famous mantra: “I think I can!”

Trains in America have had a serious historical impact on the development of our country and it’s not surprising that the hobby of building model railways is still strong within our culture.

When I got wind of the Great Train Expo at the Dixie Classic Fairgrounds in Winston-Salem I knew it was something my dad and I would have to check out. We even passed on VIP tickets to a monster truck show to go.

It was a tradition in our home that every Christmas my old man would get down the train table. I say “get down” because it was basically a 5-by-15 foot piece of plywood that was hung on a pulley system of our basement ceiling and was the more popular scale at the time, HO. Occasionally for a Christmas present my dad would get a car or a building that we would spend hours putting together and watching the little detailed model steam engine going around the track while we clicked and pulled switches to control the path of the train. It’s a memory I know I’ll never forget and in fact it’s a hobby I would to get back into.

Now things have changed with the addition of more technological advancements. These days the engines are digitally and radio controlled – meaning better and more precise control. In the past, running more then one engine on the same track meant they had to travel at the same speed with the old DC transformers. Now you can run each train individually on separate controls at different speeds. The control of moving at slower speeds has also made quite an impact on the hobby. We saw an N-scale model that must have been about 25 to 30 feet in length. This would have been impossible to accomplish without the new digital controls. Most older model trains are upgradeable but it can get a little expensive.

– Kenny Lindsay

For more info on this particular show visit, greattrainexpo.com There are additional links to other exhibitions on the page as well.

To comment on this story,

e-mail Kenny Lindsay at

kenny@yesweekly.com.

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