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All aboard for fun

Hobbyists climb aboard to celebrate trains of all shapes and sizes

Created date

August 20th, 2013
Hobbyists climb aboard to celebrate trains of all shapes and sizes

Less than 100 years ago, 1,500 U.S. railroads operated more than 254,000 miles and employed 1.8 million people more than any other industry in the country. Since the end of World War II, railroads popularity has declined as both a means of freight and passenger transportation. Yet the fascination and love of railroads continues to grow. Indulging in his lifelong love and appreciation of the railroads, Bill Lee, who lives at Greenspring, an Erickson Living community in Springfield, Va., began the community s first railroad hobby club, shortly after moving here in 2010.

Rich history

Bill s love of the railroads took root at a very young age. His father worked as a clerk for the Union Pacific Railroad in New York City. My dad was the first generation of my family in this country, says Bill. He left high school as soon as he could and went to work for the railroad. Through his hard work and dedication, he became the chief clerk. The railroad track was less than two miles from our house, Bill adds. I ve never forgotten the sound of the trains as they roared down the track.

Starting the engines

Before moving to Greenspring, Bill was an active member of the Piedmont Railroaders, based in his hometown of Warrenton, Va. When I arrived at Greenspring, a railroad hobby club did not yet exist, says Bill. It was an easy decision to organize a club. I wanted to form a group that, like the Piedmont Railroaders, promoted not just model railroads, but all aspects of the hobby, including photography, technology, operations, travel, and history. Interest in the new club grew quickly. The group now meets on the third Thursday of each month in Greenspring s Town Center classroom, with the exception of July and August. Joining the group brings about a sense of fellowship and a chance to make new friends with those who have similar interests, says Bill. From personal experience, it has provided multiple opportunities to participate in activities that otherwise would not be available. To his credit, Bill provides exciting opportunities for club members, including video travelogues and technical presentations. This past summer, he explored railroad history in a lecture on how railroads have evolved from the post-World War II era to today. Twice a year, a friend of Bill s who visits railroads in Switzerland comes to Greenspring to share his experiences with railroad hobby club members.

Full steam ahead

Our club is very much in the formative stage, says Bill. We are still judging what our members enjoy. While the group has not delved into creating their own model railroads, they recently invited the Northern Virginia NTRAK (NVNTRAK) club, a local group that promotes the hobby of N-scale (an international standard in which one inch of the model equals 160 inches of real space) model railroading, to set up a two-day display at Greenspring. Bill, along with neighbor Jim Weedon, a member of NVNTRAK, coordinated the show, which was met with delight by the Greenspring community. We had a great turnout, and the presentation was very well received, says Bill. He is now in talks with his former club, the Piedmont Railroaders, in the hopes that they will bring their model railroads to Greenspring for a train show. Only time will tell what direction our club will go, says Bill. For now, we are having a great time sharing our love of the railroad. We welcome anyone in the community to join us and share in our enjoyment.