Freight trains, passenger trains, steam, diesel and electric locomotives all made their way into the Beatrice City Auditorium on Friday afternoon.
The Beatrice Area Railroad Enthusiasts Model Train Show opens on Saturday, and groups from around the area were setting up their meticulously designed displays and trains on Friday.
It was held at the Beatrice Holiday Inn for the last few years, but with more clubs wanting to display and more vendors wanting to sell, the show outgrew its old location and moved into the gymnasium of the city auditorium.
Main Street Beatrice furnished mats to cover the wooden floors of the auditorium this year, and the show will host around 50 tables worth of vendors selling various train cars, locomotives and structures for long-time model railroaders, as well as the budding enthusiasts.
Two clubs from Lincoln, one from Kansas and the Beatrice Area Railroad Enthusiasts will all be strutting their stuff for the event, which will feature at least four different scales of model railroad.
All the way from the 1:22 G-scale—which got its name from the German word groß for big—to the tiny 1:160 N-Scale trains which are just a little bigger than a pencil, there’s a train sure to please just about any hobbyist.
Rich Rischling, one of the Beatrice Area Railroad Enthusiast organizers of the event said they see people who are at all model railroad levels from beginner to old hand.
“It's kind of a mix between the two,” Rischling said. “Some of the clubs, the guys have been doing it for years and years. They also have new members who are just getting started in the hobby.”
On Friday, exhibitors with custom-made trailers, built just to haul model train layouts, backed into the auditorium’s driveway and started unloading. Some sections measured about six feet long were fully built up with trees, buildings, people and, of course, lots of track. Others brought modular units, bolted together with sheets of plywood. These were the pros who’d spent plenty of time getting everything perfect.
With elaborate layouts and vendors offering nearly anything train-related a collector could imagine, the show tends to draw a crowd, said fellow organizer Craig Cherry.
“Last year, we had close to or a little over 1,000, I think,” Cherry said. “It has varied.”
Admission to the show is $5 for adults and kids 12 and under are free with an adult admission. The show runs Saturday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. and the displays at the Beatrice Area Railroad Enthusiasts building on Court Street will be running during the show as well.
There will also be a canteen set up with pulled pork sandwiches, hot dogs and other concessions for hungry visitors.
Rischling described himself as being a bit computer illiterate, but that’s kind of helped with his interest, he said.
“I think you kind of have to be born with it,” Rischling said. “It's kind of in your blood.”