One couple I was delighted to see again at the train show was Dave and Sandy Homan of Superior Scenics. As I noted last year, they create lakes from resin and paint, trees from jute, and grind ballast for rocks under model track.
This past year, they have been working hard on growing their business, which as Dave pointed out, is really a niche market. A lot of railroad people, he said, don't even have layouts of their own. So, they market their products to people building fairy gardens, doll houses, terrariums, and aquariums as well as railroad layouts.
The Homans sometimes crush 1000 pounds of rock in one day, and that's not really pushing it. Miniature hay bales and silage rolls are relatively new products. They're working on adding the large rectangular cornstalk bales now made for ethanol plants, and creating splashes with fish jumping in their lakes. Visit their website & Facebook page.
Alan Ford, Watercolor Artist
The only artist I noticed at the show, other than my grandma, was Alan Ford. He has loved trains since he was 5 or 6 years old. He and his friends were playing by the railroad tracks when a big black steam train came by; they ran for their lives, scared & laughing, and he's loved trains ever since. He has sketched since he can remember, and started painting in the 1980s.
Beth and Tom Klimesh
Another couple I was very happy to see was Beth and Tom Klimesh! They had much of the same type of trains in stock as last year. And they were some of the only people whom I managed to remember by name--in part because Beth has a name very similar to my own.
Robert Eichman and his son go to railroad shows together, but that isn't Eichman's only hobby. He loves photography. He bought his first camera in 1938 at the age of 12 for a quarter and two Wheaties box tops, and says it worked better than the $400 Nikon he has now. He likes to photograph birds and much more along the Mississippi River.
Arnie, Dave, and Howard
Howard started working for the Illinois Central in 1948. He worked there 37 years, first as a brakeman, and then as a conductor. He served in the Army during the Korean War. In 1959 he started a model railroad in his basement. He kept the door locked to keep his children out. But eventually his son, Dave, also became interested, and accompanied him to this show. Their friend, Arnie, assembles the model cars from kits.
Model Railroad Layouts
Last year I wrote a separate post on Les Kline's miniature world. I was happy to see it still thriving...and growing! The top two photos above show Mr. Kline and one of the new businesses added to the layout, a machine shop. Gordon and Mary Letheby also had a layout at the show (see bottom left). And I spotted the sign above at a vendor's table...apparently one must beware of the "Contagious Model Railroad Disease."
I enjoyed meeting model railroad enthusiasts, and best of all, had a delightful time with my grandparents and sister. Thanks to all the friendly people who took the time to talk with me and made these posts possible!