Did You Know? Origins of Model Train Shows in Maine

Did You Know?

– Paul Lodge –
 

Bob Willard took some time to explain to the club members present at the June 20 meeting the origins of train shows in Maine. In the late 1970s, Al Thurston and Wally Chase started train shows in Auburn, which were the first in the state. Al and Wally were members of the Seacoast Division of the National Model Railroad Associa-tion. For ten years, they hosted train shows at various lo-cations in Auburn, including the hotel at the Auburn exit of the Maine Turnpike, the Stephens Mills Grange Hall, the Auburn Armory in Pettengill Park, and finally the Auburn Middle School.
Being members of the Seacoast Division was an advantage to Al and Wally. Modelers from the South Shore Model Railroad Club in Massachusetts came to the show annually. After the show, it was a tradition to go to-gether to Happy Jack’s for dinner. After the meal, Wally invited members from the South Shore club to his house to operate his railroad. At one of the train shows at the Au-burn Armory, there was a clinic on using spirea for model trees. After the clinic, participants went outside the Armory and stripped all the spirea in sight.
The last show at the Auburn Armory was an experi-ence. Even though the Armory had been reserved for the train show, Al and Wally discovered at the last minute that the Armory floor was being renovated. They quickly made arrangements to move the show to the Auburn Middle School. People and signs were left at the Auburn Armory to direct guests to the new location. Some of the local rail-road enthusiasts who attended their shows would later form the Great Falls Model Railroad Club. After the Great Falls Model Railroad Club was formed in 1987, Al and Wally transferred responsibility of the show to the club. Our November train show has been at Auburn Middle School ever since.

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