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It wasn’t shopping deals that drew more than 300 adults and their fascinated children to a building on Round Rock’s Main Street the day after Thanksgiving. It was the model trains running past miniature scenes, including one from the Barnum & Bailey Circus and another recreated from an old postcard of a Taylor depot.
As train whistles blew, families paid $5 for their children to operate the controls that started and stopped each of four trains — including the Polar Express — that were cruising past on the 22-foot by 26-foot track.
Melody Thompson of Round Rock was there with her two grandsons. “This is a great thing,” she said. “We are able to make a family day out of it. I’m fascinated by it. I always liked dollhouses growing up and now looking at a little village is better.”
The free model train show is the the fourth annual one put on by Austin’s Tinplate Trackers club at the nonprofit ArtSpace in Round Rock at 231 E. Main Street. Gold said he assembled the 8-foot long circus display along the tracks this year because his son used to work as a brakeman for the Barnum & Bailey Circus.
The scene features tiny bumper cars whirring around, a Ferris wheel turning, miniature hot air balloon rides going up and down, plastic elephants and lions, and a tiny roller coaster with a car zooming up and plunging down tracks.
Part of the reason for doing the model train display, which takes club members about 10 hours to assemble, is to show children a hobby besides those on cell phones and computers, Gold said. Model trains have “kind of been forgotten,” he said.
Another club member, Ricky Dolifka, said he and his father put together a miniature downtown along the track loosely based on a postcard of an old railroad depot in Taylor. It has a tiny depot, a grain elevator and various businesses in historic-looking tiny buildings, including a hardware store, an Italian restaurant and a movie theater.
Tinplate Tracker member Jim Rattigan said his Santa Fe model train was running around the track Friday. Club members put together the display to help children “build positive memories,” he said. “When I was growing up we didn’t have the money for a model train, so I had to go to a department store to look at one.”
The show is open from noon to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays through Dec. 31.
This article first appeared on www.statesman.com
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