Adults, youths explore trains at model show Parents want children to follow their tracks

January 28, 1996|By Norris P. West | Norris P. West,SUN STAFF

The Baltimore and Ohio, New York Central, Western Pacific and Santa Fe lines converged in Timonium at a scale-model train show yesterday.

Generations did, too -- adults who were raised on model railroads and children who might rather be playing in cyberspace.

Take Gary Cameron, 44. He is trying to bequeath the love of trains to his 12-year-old son, Andrew. Mr. Cameron recently rediscovered a set that had been in storage for three decades. He has spent $3,800 since to lay out tracks in the "train room" in his Silver Spring home.

Yesterday, he took Andrew to the Great Scale Model Train Show at the Maryland State Fairgrounds to find scenery. As he searched one of the 600 vendor tables for parts for a mountain, Mr. Cameron realized that Andrew was not quite as excited as he was.

"It's something I hope to pass down to him," he said. "You can see the generational differences. He still likes to play games, so this won't hold his attention like Nintendo or Sega or the computer in the house."

Andrew said the train set was coming along slowly and that he gets some enjoyment operating it. But his father brims with excitement when he talks about building a scene that combines America's landscapes from the 1940s and 1960s.

"It's something I've wanted to do for a long time," Mr. Cameron said.

He's certain to find what he needs at the show, which continues today from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at a cost of $5 per person.

Vendors from Ellicott City to California are selling scale-model trains at costs ranging from a few dollars to $3,000. Also on sale are books and videotapes, and scale-model trees and mountains.

And there are plenty of large model-train displays chugging around winding tracks that seemed to go everywhere.

The show is for people who demand accuracy in scale, said Howard Zane of the Ellicott City Scale Model Association, which organized the show.

"These are geared toward realism," said Kenneth Young, another organizer. "People want to model these things so they look like real life -- so that if you take a picture of it, you can't tell the difference from a real scene."

Michael May, 36, of Columbia, said his son, Christopher, 6, has become increasingly interested in trains since the boy's grandfather bought him a set for his birthday.

He said the set could launch his son into a lifelong hobby.

"He can add on to it for years and years," Mr. May said.

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