GRAPEVINE — The Lone Star Hi-Railers Model Railroad Club wanted to do a massive exhibit. Grapevine loves to showcase its city.It was a perfect match.Through a cooperative effort, the club and Grapevine Vintage Railroad have opened an O-gauge model railroad layout inside a 75-foot historic baggage car in the Grapevine Historic District.Located in the Grapevine rail yard area west of Main Street, the burgundy and silver baggage car is on static display behind a Baldwin Mikado steam engine.The project, which was begun several years ago, was undertaken by the model club which invested approximately $26,000 in materials and hundreds of hours of volunteer labor. They built the highly detailed structure with scale models of many of Grapevine’s iconic and historic structures, including a replica of the Grapevine concrete grain elevators and a scale model of the club baggage car.“We had to do a model of the baggage car and the steam engine it sits behind,” said Eric Haist, club president. “It would not have been complete without it.”The layout also includes a long series of late 1800 and early 1900 era buildings in Historic Downtown Grapevine. “We tried to include as many building as we could that would give the look and feel of the city’s historic Main Street,” said Mike McLintock, club vice president and secretary and head of the scenic committee. For McLintock, it was a labor of love.His father was a toy buyer for a Champaign, Ill., department store and many of his early gifts were trains.“My father said he never gave a gift that changed anyone’s life as much as those trains did mine,” McLintock said.McLintock joined the club because he loves trains and wanted something more meaningful than just the fun of watching his “run around in circles.”“There’s a lot of talent here, a lot of knowledge,” he said of the club. “And I’d like to bring that to the next generation.”McLintock’s contributions include constructing and painting a hand-carved mountain that towers four feet over the project. The mountain was inspired by one in west Texas and includes three train tunnels and working oil wells.The layout also features two rail yards and working wind turbines.The layout has three independent tracks allowing members to run up to six long trains simultaneously. Members can also run their trains with state-of-the-hobby hand held remote control devices. Many of the trains emit smoke and have realistic lighting and built-in sounds of horns, bells and voices of the engineers and tower personnel.Low-set buttons allow children to get involved in some of the action, such as making music come out of the diner.The model railroad will be open on weekends. The club was founded by a group whose primary interest is “O” gauge three-rail modeling. Ages of the 20 or so members range from nine to Dave MacGregor, who is 68 and a retired airline mechanic. Their occupations are varied: retired postal worker, firefighter and library software expert, to name a few.MacGregor said the layout may look finished, but they’ll be tinkering with it from time to time.“All train layouts are a work in progress,” he said.
Marty Sabota, 187-390-7367