APPALACHIA, Va. - For those who've taken up the hobby of model railroading, it's often driven by a love for the big railroads themselves.
Maybe they worked for the railroad at some point or just have a fascination.
Usually it's not just a little railroad that goes around in the basement, but a full layout with all that comes with it.
Fourteen years ago, the Lonesome Pine Railroaders Club began a small layout. Now it's grown to 1,300 square feet, taking up the entire basement of the Appalachia Cultural Arts Center in downtown Appalachia. "We've just got this one section to complete down at the back end here and this basement will be full. But our plans are to redo this side of the building. This is the original railroad on this side," club member Larry Jack Jackson said.
You could spend hours just looking at all of detail the club has done over the years depicting the region and it all kinds of weather.
A close examination lets you know that all of the detail doesn't come cheap. "Vehicles, for a start. Buying a vehicle, and you want it to exact scale of "HO", scale, you can pay $15 to $25 just for one vehicle just to get the right scale. They've got a lot of detail on them, but that makes it very expensive for us," Jackson says.
And they love to share it with folks each year during Appalachia's Railroad Days celebration. "It's our annual fundraiser. It's where we try to raise the capital that we need to continue this expansion," he said.
So now that they've almost reached capacity, they're going to start back with their original layout to make things a little easier for them and their visitors. "We're going to convert that to what this is where is peninsulas so we never have to do what we call 'duck under'. We're getting to old to be duck unders," he says.
It's a hobby to be shared with everyone during the celebration of the history of the railroad in the mountains.
The layout will be open Thursday and Friday evenings August 1 and 2 from 5 until 9 p.m. and all day on Saturday, August 3.
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