Martin and Frances Lehnis Railroad Museum officials hope area kids catch on to a 100-year-old tradition with their upcoming Model Railroad Camp.
Thanks to a few local, volunteer railroad aficionados, the railroad camp returns for its second iteration with a few more additions, including construction a model railroad that will remain on display at the museum.
“This year they are going to teach them how to lay the track, build scenery, hook it up and let it run,” said Michelle Ezra, an assistant at the railroad museum. “We’re planning on displaying it in the museum after the camp. Our model railroad camp has been built up a little but lately. We had a couple of guys move back to town that used to be part of the club and were gone for a while. They came back, and with the club a little bigger, they felt it would be interested in getting kids involved in building the layout.”
This year’s camp will be split into two age groups, children ages four to eight and ages nine and above. While the older age group focuses on the finer points of model railroad construction, the younger campers will make fold-up train track books, which will come with a small train that runs along the tracks.
“Wherever they go they can take their book and little locomotive and have tracks to play with,” Ezra said. “They will also get to learn about train safety. We’re going to have Jerry Payne, a retired Union Pacific engineer, and he is going to come in and teach railroad safety, signals and tell stories from his time as an engineer.”
The deadline for the camp was July 14, but it was recently extended to July 25. Each camper will receive a free T-shirt, which they will be able to paint, and each session will get to ride the museum’s famed mini-train. Ezra said teaching children about model trains is important because it provides context to a major form of travel and transportation of goods as well as keeps up a tradition that dates back to the World War I.
“They love it. They really seem to enjoy it,” Ezra said. “We’re hoping to spark a bit of interest so, after the camp, they may want to join the club and continue their hobby.”
Although the first camp of the summer, the museum has been organizing activities all summer long, whether its Wheels that Move the World Exhibit or its upcoming super hero themed days, Ezra said the museum only seeks to foster each of their young visitor’s fascination for exploration.
“Kids love trains. They just love trains,” Ezra said. “I don’t know what it is or why. Once you get them in here, there are opportunities for them to learn and explores and see things they may not see anywhere else.”
The camp is $40 and will run from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. beginning Wednesday, July 25 through July 27. To register, or for more information, contact Ezra at (325) 643-6376 or send her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.