Model-train fans gather for show

AUSTINTOWN–Four-year-old Luke Begeot stood on a bench next to his father, Brad Begeot of Austintown, saying he could get a better look at a huge model train display showcased this weekend at the Youngstown Model Railroad Association’s annual open house and show.

”He likes trains. We have been here every year for the past three years,” said Brad Begeot.

They were among many families who stopped by the association’s headquarters, the former Four Mile Run Christian Church, to see the miniature train displays. The club was established in 1957.

An additional weekend open house is set for noon to 6 p.m. Dec. 2 and 3.

Jim Pope, club president, said for three weekends each fall, the club opens its headquarters to the public to see the O- and HO-scale train displays.

”The trains setups are the same, but each year we make scenery changes. We run different trains every year. We have rural scenery upstairs with the bigger display and then a variety of scenes downstairs for the smaller-scale displays, such as steel mills and Idora Park. There is a miniature display of downtown Youngstown’s square that people really like,” Pope said.

Pope said with the smaller scale, there is more room for displays.

With the ”O” scale layout, the controls are located in a balcony overlooking the entire railroad. The ”HO” layout occupies an area of approximately 30 by 60 feet.

Pope said the show is a fun event for families and people of all ages.

”It lets us show what we do and what the club is about,” he said, indicating the club meets 8 to 11 p.m,.Tuesdays and Fridays.

Parker Williams, 9, accompanied his father, Chris Williams, both of Poland, to the show.

”We come here every year. He loves the trains,” said Chris Williams.

Parker Williams said he likes the train displays with his favorites, a ”Star Wars” display and a house-on-fire display.

Parker Zwingler, 8, was with her older sister, Payton Zwingler, 10, of Greenford, watching a train with a miniature camera travel along the track while a large screen above the display showed what the camera was recording, including many smiling faces of children and adults.

”I love the scavenger hunt game. We have to find stuff,” Payton Zwingler said of the activity which has children looking for specific items on the train displays.

The steel mill display was set up by club members Deon DeMain of Boardman and Don Lakin of Lowellville.

”It took us about 16 years to complete all of this,” said DeMain.

Lakin said many parents and grandparents tell the children that they worked at the mills.

”There are a lot of ex-steel workers who share stories about the mills once they see this,” he said.

Carmen Merolillo of Springfield is a junior member of the club.

”I just started in January. My dad (Pete) is part of this, and I wanted to get involved,” said the high school sophomore.

A junior member can join between ages 14 and 18.

Pope said they are seeing more and more younger people joining, even those in high school who are able to attend and work around their school schedule.

The association holds a flea market each year at the Salem Center Plex with the shows set for Jan. 14 and April 8.

Open house

The Youngstown Model Railroad Association will hold an open house from noon to 6 p.m. Dec. 2 and 3 at club headquarters, 751 N. Four Mile Run Road, Austintown.