Severna Park model club is riding the rails to scale Trains: Inside the station are about 600 feet of miniature railroad tracks -- and about 100 cars and engines to travel the seemingly endless lines.

August 29, 1996|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

The small white building at the side of the Baltimore and Annapolis trail has come full circle. Once a station on the Washington, Baltimore and Annapolis railroad, it now is home of the Severna Park Model Railroaders Club.

Inside Severna Park Station are about 600 feet of miniature railroad tracks and about 100 cars and engines to travel the seemingly endless lines.

"People who are really surprised are the people who are on the trail," said Sam Shepherd, president of the club. "When I open the doors, they stick their heads in and say, 'Wow! Look at all of this.' "

Miniature versions of the Pennsylvania Railroad, the Baltimore and Ohio line and the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad snake around the room.

Those less enamored of trains will find replicas of some of Baltimore's oldest buildings and businesses, including the Raleigh & Co. Building, the Lebow Clothes building and the B&O Warehouse, which serves as the backdrop for Orioles games at Camden Yards.

Magnetically operated couplers that hold the cars together and the 67 switches needed to keep the trains on track attract those more interested in the internal workings of machines.

vTC "One of the big attractions of model railroads is the variety of interests," Shepherd said. "Say you lay track for a while and you get tired. You can build engines, scenery, buildings. If you get tired to building model airplanes, you can't build anything else."

The club was started by four men in the rear of a hobby shop in 1964, Shepherd said. Two years later, the Severna Park Station was available for rent, and the club moved to the new site.

The club and building have changed since the move. The original wooden floor was torn up and replaced with tile. The current track was completed in 1984, and the club has grown to 27 members.

Model railroad clubs are growing in popularity, according to Jim Hediger, a senior editor with Model Railroader magazine in Wakesha, Wis. Four years ago, he said, more than 800 clubs had more than 271,000 members. He said that number, along with the popularity of building model railroads, has risen since then.

"Almost everyone is a specialist on something," Hediger said. "So if you get half a dozen people together, you can get more progress rather than trying to do it individually."

Many of the members are like Frank Winner, a 59-year-old retired Westinghouse employee who fell in love with trains when his father bought him a model set as a child.

"He used to set it up around the Christmas tree," Winner recalled.

Winner, who joined the club 11 years ago, is a relative newcomer compared to Charles Pettus, who joined in 1971.

Pettus, who fulfilled his childhood dream by working on the C&O Railroad from 1943 to 1951, is so devoted to model railroading that he spent 18 months building an entire circus train, which features tiny model animals inside the cars.

Pettus said he would never give up his love of model railroads and has tried to instill the same love in his 8-year-old grandson.

"He takes care of the cars," Pettus said. "I hope to pass it on to him."

Pub Date: 8/29/96

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