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8:21 AM Thu, Sept. 20th

Model train enthusiasts keep their hobby on track

Bill and Sandy Anderson of Chino Valley operate their garden-gauge train on the stage of the Prescott Activity Center. Sandy holds an 1880-style steam engine. The Central Arizona Model Railroad Club hosted ita annual swap meet Saturday.

Nelson said they have trains of all sizes and models at the swap meet, along with parts, tracks and accessories to build towns and landscape for the train to maneuver around.

"We have a little bit of everything," he said.

Putting together elaborate models is a form of "creating enjoyable art. In some weird respect, it's a piece of art, but it's also mechanical," Nelson said.

As Atonna puts it, "it's creating miniature duplicates of the real world."

Some of the members of the club, Nelson said, travel together to "real railroad hot spots" for train watching.

"We enjoy it all, from the itty-bitty trains to the ones you can ride," he said.

Nelson said the whole idea of the auction is for people to come together and have fun.

"Even if you're not into trains, maybe there's an old Lionel train you remember sitting under the Christmas tree when you were a kid," Nelson said.

That is exactly why Rick Niesluchowski went to the auction. He said he has an American Flyer train set from 1950 at home, and it still runs. The set was O-Scale, Niesluchowski said, and he has only recently taken an interest in the HO-Scale trains, which are smaller.

"I'm adding tracks and cars as I go, just as I did when I was five or six," he said.

Dan Heffner, from Wickenburg, who spent 12 years as a train conductor on the Batten Kill Railroad in New York, walked around admiring the miniature trains at the swap meet.

Though he prefers full-scale trains, Heffner said he has collected model trains "since I could see them. That's a very long time."

Heffner said he has more than 65 HO-Scale trains at his house.

"You should see our home," his wife Karen said. "It's all railroads."

Contact Rachelle Bump at rbump@prescottaz.com