Paul Simon had it right: “Everybody loves the sound of a train in the distance.”

But it goes beyond the aural for model railroad fans. Perhaps it’s the nostalgia of childhood or the meditative motion of riding the rails or the ability to view scenery from a new perspective.

Even Laura Trump, president of the Estes Valley Model Railroaders, isn’t quite sure about the origin of train love.

“People just like trains,” she said.

She ought to know. She’s also director of the 22nd annual Rails in the Rockies, which happens Saturday and Sunday at the Estes Park Event Center Complex in Estes Park.

About 3,000 to 4,000 train fans congregate every year for a look-see at model train layouts from groups across the state, including Colorado Springs. This year, attendees can inspect 20 train layouts, visit 35 to 40 vendors, check out a train made entirely of Legos and attend free clinics on how to make scenery, trees, buildings and more for the layouts. More advanced technology also will be offered, such as 3D printing and how to run a train from a smartphone.

One of the main appeals of model railroads are the creative layouts, Trump said.

“I love that they’re able to create a scene that gives an idea of where the train is going. There are so many different gauges and so many different themes, like mining themes. We did one for a Scottish festival. We did the train from London to Edinburgh — the Flying Scotsman. It’s a historical research one.”

One of the weekend’s largest layouts will be a group effort called the Colorado and Great Western. Folks from model railroad clubs in Loveland, Fort Collins and Greeley bring a total of 17 to 18 modules — individual scenes — and hook them together, running about 22 by 40 feet long. These layouts aren’t circular, like classic train sets for kids. They run lengthwise, curving in and out and sometimes in a half-circle.

“It’s interesting,” said Trump. “There’s fun involved with a lot of stuff. For older people who had trains when they’re young, it’s a historical and nostalgic thing also.”


Contact the writer: 636-0270

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