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Quite the a-track-tion

Area model train group holding display at Morris Library

Bridget Lollar, 6, of Morris, watches a train as it goes around the track at the Heritage N-Trak Group model train exhibit at the Morris Area Public Library Wednesday afternoon.
Bridget Lollar, 6, of Morris, watches a train as it goes around the track at the Heritage N-Trak Group model train exhibit at the Morris Area Public Library Wednesday afternoon.

A group of model train enthusiasts have brought their annual display to the Morris Area Public Library.

On Wednesday, the Heritage N-Trak Group of Channahon opened its exhibit in the lower level of the library. The free display will continue through Saturday. Locals can browse the scaled equivalent of about four miles of train track between 3:30 and 7:45 p.m. today, 3:30 and 5:45 p.m. Friday, and 11:15 a.m. and 3 p.m. Saturday.

Rob Schiavone, a Carol Stream resident and group participant, said the members built different sections, called modules, around the tracks.

"We've been doing this for many years now," he said. "It's part of the library's Christmas kickoff."

He said the group has about seven regular atttendees from throughout the Chicago area, and about 12 altogether, with some members who get together less frequently.

A longtime train enthusiast, he said his favorite part of taking part in the display is bringing all the small details together. While his featured a 1940s look, complete with old-fashioned structures, animated features like a whirring windmill and sound effects for mooing cows, he pointed out the variety in sections. Others showed parts of the Santa Fe Railroad route in Streator and Coal City.

"My biggest thing is building realistic models," he said.

Katie Lollar of Morris could be found at the track's side with her 6-year-old daughter, Bridget, and 4-year-old son, Graham.

She said viewing the train display has been an annual family tradition that started with Bridget.

"She used to be obsessed with trains," she said. "We've got to come every year now."

Bridget is still enamored with the trains — she chased one as it made its way through the different scenes. Her favorite train was a circus train complete with cars filled with animals.

She gave the trains an enthusiastic review.

"They're awesome," she said. "They go super-duper fast."

Kristine Lestina and her children, Anna and Sam, also of Morris, were dropping off books when they were tipped off to the activity in the lower level. Kristine said was impressed by the display.

"It's so detailed — you'd think it's so small it would lose the details," she said. "It's awesome."

Sam said his favorite part of the display was Simmons' drive-in. Overall, he liked seeing the scenes, saying he was interested in "how they got the trains to move."

The drive-in, which was complete with a screen playing Looney Tunes cartoons and 1950s-era cars, was one of two modules created and shown by Morris resident Roger Simmons. His other module depicted a Caterpillar plant, with the signature yellow equipment out front.

He said he's been involved in the group for about 12 years, and has been tinkering with model trains for over 40 years. He said he came to the N scale just for practical reasons — the small size allows for more details.

"I've always liked N-scale model railroading," he said. "I get twice as much stuff in the same space."

A Caterpillar retiree, he said that when he was still working, he joined the group after being invited by a co-worker. For awhile, he just operated his trains, but after going to large train shows, he got into designing the modules.

He said he enjoys taking part in operating the trains and showing his designs off.

"That's the fun part of it," he said.

As for the work of putting everything together, he said it is something to keep him busy in his retirement.

"It's just a hobby. Some guys pick up airplanes, cars, boats, whatever," he said. "I just happened to pick up trains."

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