Model trains are a big draw at Christmastime

BETTERTON — Folks were “steady pouring in,” Larry Crew said Sunday, day two of the free admission model train show in Betterton.

The informal count was more than 100, making for a Dec. 2-3 weekend total of about 360.

That’s a record, according to Crew, who along with Bob Pyfer, Dick Story and John Maurer are the engineers of the annual Christmastime event.

Crew and Maurer have Lionel trains, Pyfer has American Flyer trains and Story’s model trains are of the HO scale.

What also sets Story’s train setup apart is it’s “thematically Betterton,” i.e., there’s a lot of Betterton items — including sunbathers on the beach and a replica of the grand Hotel Rigbie up on the bluff.

Crew, who grew up in the area, started collecting model trains when he was a kid. It’s something that his sons Kyle and Christian, now in their 40s, also enjoyed when they were young.

At some point, the trains were packed away.

But not forgotten.

Crew said about eight years ago he decided to put his trains back on the tracks because he wanted to do something that families could enjoy together at Christmas.

With the permission of the Betterton mayor and council, who had moved into new office space in what was once a church in the 100-block of Main Street, Crew and friends were given the go-ahead to set up their trains for one weekend in the former town hall on Third Avenue.

The train show was such a success that the railroaders were told they could stay.

It’s a very generous offer as the Town of Betterton pays the utilities costs, as well as provides two spacious rooms for the trains.

Crew said he is beyond grateful.

“I always wanted there to be a place where families could come and not have to pay a cent and stay as long as they wanted,” he said Sunday, Dec. 3 during the show.

Despite the afternoon fog and light rain Sunday, it was standing room only at the train show.

All day.

The Snyder family of Chestertown — Mom, Dad, and their sons ages 3, 5 and 7 — stayed awhile, just as Crew would have scripted it.

They’ve been coming for several years and have learned to bring along their own stepladder for ideal viewing.

Among other visitors on Sunday were three former sorority sisters who attended Washington College in the 1970s. Shoulder-to-shoulder-to-shoulder, they stood at the far end of Dick Story’s train setup and, with their cellphones, recorded the choo-choos as they rounded the Hotel Rigbie.

Sunday at the train show was about family, friends and making new memories.


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