What a perfect time for this recognition, just before the Christmas holiday period. What is more a part of Christmas besides Santa Claus, the tree, lights, decorations and all kinds of good times with family and friends? Model trains of course. Whether you are six or sixty, model trains still have a big fascination for every age. Just go to a model railroad show and you will see men, and women, of every age “oohing and aahing” over the model train layouts on display and the merchandise available to purchase.

For me personally trains, both model and real, have always been a fascination of love and joy. Matter of fact when I was a small child my grandfather nicknamed me “Choo Choo”. Until about 20 years ago I was an avid model railroad guy. It all got started with my father when I got my very first Lionel train set when I was 6 years old. From that point on and over the years it got built into a six train layout that became so big it took up one whole room in the house and remained up the entire year! Back then there was basically the HO gauge which were the bigger trains. Today they come in every size and gauge, some so small the cars are the size of a small cigarette lighter. Then add in all the scenery, decorations, moving parts to make a layout look real and it just becomes a special kind of thrill, and still is today.

Now there are model train shows just about everywhere, including one every December at the Florida State Fairgrounds that I never miss. The layouts are mind blowing and incorporate just about everything and anything. There also plenty of model railroad  train parts, collectibles, magazines, books, scenery and accessories for sale at these shows for the enthusiast. There are layouts of every kind, every style and every size. It is amazing what some people can put together and make it so realistic. I know as a youngster I marveled at the layout we had with six trains all running at once in different directions, with lights that my father had rigged up so it went from daytime to nighttime. We even had cars running on roads and just about everything functioned as if it were real.

Here is a website you must check out for Miniatur Wunderland http://www.miniatur-wunderland.com/  It will be a most fascinating five minutes you will ever see.This is the largest model train display in the world and you will not believe your eyes. Not only are there trains and different countries around the world represented in this display, but a full fledged model airport as well. The detail in every single part of this massive layout is impeccable and wait till you see the control room that runs this awesome display! To me this is the greatest model train display to ever be assembled. Too bad it is in Hamburg, Germany as that is just a bit to far to travel. Still it is worth checking out this video and others they have.

So with Christmas on the horizon, I know some of you are still avid model train players and will have the train sets up for the holidays for both yourself and the kids. For those of you that are interested in model trains, remember you are never too old or too young to enjoy this fantastic hobby of model train building. So “All aboard!” and let’s celebrate National Model Train Month. One more note, if you are into model railroading and want to get some great ideas, tutorials, etc. go to:  www.modelrailroadacademy.com This is a terrific and very helpful site with a lot to offer.  I will be making sure to squeeze in the time to get my Polar Express layout up in the next week or so. Happy railroading to everyone!

Art Koch, National Features & DVD Editor NightMoves Magazine and AAN