(Dec. 7, 2017) Smoking locomotives, albeit of the scale-model variety, will be chugging around the tracks of a Snow Hill-themed train garden running upstairs at the Pocomoke River Canoe Company from 1-4 p.m. each Saturday and Sunday during December.
For the past quarter century, the Corddry Company Crossing Model Railroad Club has operated the ever-evolving train garden above the iconic Snow Hill business, which is owned by Barry Laws. He also doubles as club president.
Although only open sporadically throughout the year, Corddry Company member Frank Deuter, 19, said the miniaturized wonderland for O-gauge enthusiasts would be full steam ahead this entire month.
The train garden kicked off its holiday run under the watchful eye of train engineers Deuter and Sam Smith during Snow Hill’s First Friday event, last week.
“We typically draw decent crowds,” Deuter said.
This was arguably an understatement last Friday, when the canoe company hosted a Snow Hill Elementary PTA Night to celebrate Christmas.
Despite the presence of Santa Claus, cookies and hot chocolate downstairs, a large throng of youngsters bounded the narrow wooden steps to stare in wonderment at the array of Lionel, MTH and Williams by Bachman 1:48 scale-model trains circling the room.
Although Deuter had his hands full maintaining the complex setup in an area teeming with children, a lifetime of experience with model trains was clearly evident.
“I’m pretty much the main engineer,” he said. “I know how to run them and a work a digital system.”
Deuter credits his uncle, Paul Richardson, with inspiring his passion for miniature railroads. He remembers Richardson taking him to visit to the Corddry Company’s train garden display above the canoe company as a 5-year-old.
Within a year, Deuter received a Lionel electric train set from his grandmother, and the delighted club members gladly provided space for the youngster to pursue the newly discovered hobby.
After about half a dozen years of playing on the side and gaining expertise, Deuter said club members invited him to become further involved.
“I started fixing things, setting up tables and repairing trains,” he said.
In April 2016, Roland Collins, the Corddry Company’s original chief engineer, passed away at the age of 68 and since that time Deuter has worked with longtime club members Wayne Collins, Charlie McWilliams and Steve Brown to fill the void.
“We have a couple of new guys this year who are bringing a wealth of experience to the table,” he said.
Noting the surrounding landscape includes locations like the Tyson Feed Mill, B & N Hardware and the Pocomoke River Canoe Company, Deuter said the train garden also captures the attention of adults.
“We try to keep it authentic with recognizable sights,” he said.
While the holiday model train garden extravaganza is free to attend, Deuter said the club has a donation box to help fund future expansion efforts, such as the recently added elevated rail and trolley.
“We try to add something new every year,” he said.
For more information, visit www.snowhillmodeltrains.weebly.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.