17 miniature railroad exhibits on display in free model railroad tour

ST. GEORGE — One man’s near 30-year obsession and another’s attempt to honor the legacy of his late father encompass just two of the backstories behind this year’s model railroad tour.

A winter village in Terry Schramm's Lionel scale model railroad for the Color Country Model Railroad Tour, St. George, Utah, Nov. 11, 2016 | Photo by Shelden Demke, St. George News
A winter village in Terry Schramm’s Lionel scale model railroad is on display for the Color Country Model Railroad Tour, St. George, Utah, Nov. 11, 2016 | Photo by Sheldon Demke, St. George News

The annual tour is in its eighth year and is a production of the Color Country Model Railroad Club. The group of 30 miniature railroad enthusiasts work together to put on the free tour to the delight of young and old at homes throughout Washington County.

This year’s tour includes 17 homes featuring six outdoor displays and 11 indoor models.

“We’ve got quite a mix of different skills levels, different collector types,” Terry Schramm said of the variety of scales and model types on display at this year’s tour.

Schramm, who heads the committee in charge of organizing the club’s tour, said he has been interested in model trains since childhood. He started collecting them in 1993 to go along with his already extensive collection of miniature winter-themed buildings.

His collection has grown to 400 locomotives and 1,500 cars. His Lionel scale display includes dozens of trains circling around a meticulously placed Christmas village with a plethora of animated features beside the moving train, including an escalating gondola.

Terry Schramm poses next to his Lionel scale model railroad for the Color Country Model Railroad Tour at his home in St. George, Utah, Nov. 11, 2016 | Photo by Shelden Demke, St. George News
Terry Schramm poses next to his Lionel scale model railroad for the Color Country Model Railroad Tour at his home in St. George, Utah, Nov. 11, 2016 | Photo by Sheldon Demke, St. George News

Schramm usually begins rebuilding his display in the spring, completely dismantling segments, cleaning buildings, changing light bulbs and reconstructing from scratch a new village layout.

“It freshens it up, people get to see something different every year,” he said.

Schramm said he admits it’s an expensive hobby.

“But you’ve got to spend your money somewhere,” he said, noting he could do worse with his money.

When a friend questioned his spending on the model railroad, Schramm had a simple retort: “You spend as much on beer and cigarettes as I do on this.”

For Schramm, the big payoff comes every year when he gets to display his hard work to guests.

“You do lot of work; it’s a lot of time. It’s frustrating at times. It’s fulfilling at times. When you have people come and really enjoy it, it makes it all worthwhile.”

“It’s a real ego boost, too,” he laughed.

Club member Tim Fitch of Washington City is participating in the tour for the first time this year with an outdoor garden display in his meticulously landscaped back yard.

Tim Fitch and his wife pose for a photo near the garden scale model railroad in their backyard, Washington City, Utah, Nov. 11, 2016 | Photo by Joseph Witham, St. George News
Tim Fitch and his wife pose for a photo near the garden scale model railroad in their backyard, Washington City, Utah, Nov. 11, 2016 | Photo by Sheldon Demke, St. George News

Like Schramm, he first took an interest in building model trains when he was a boy.

His hobby was put on pause when he became an adult and entered the workforce, but he said he recently found the time to devote to the hobby again.

Fitch said his passion to start building model railroads again is in part to honor the legacy of his late father, who was also a model train enthusiast.

“A few years back, my dad was collecting trains and track. He had planned to build a layout, but he said ‘I’m going to wait for retirement,’” Fitch said. “He never got a chance to put down track before he passed away.”

He inherited his father’s gear and went to work converting his backyard into an old-west themed garden scale track, complete with waterfalls, flaming volcanoes and saloons. The railroad is named Southwestern High Frontier, or SHF Rail Road, in honor of his father’s initials.

Schedule and locations

Scale Click on address for map Friday  Nov.11 Saturday  Nov. 12 Sunday  Nov. 13 Monday  Nov. 14
Carl Machutta Lionel 2439 E 2540 S St George 1 – 4 1-4
M Dave Merrill HO 563 W 2040 S Cir St George 6 – 9 10 – 5 6 – 9
Dave Merrill HO 647 N 1275 W St George 5 – 8 12 – 4 5 – 8
Terry Schramm Lionel 1891 Centenial Dr St George 1 – 4 12 – 4 3 – 6 5 – 8
Paul Bottino Garden 170 S 330 W Ivins 2 – 4 1 – 4
Jim Harper Proto48 2166 Thomas Trail Santa Clara 6 – 9 1 – 5 6 – 9
Al Thorne Lionel 1568 N Scenic Dr Santa Clara 5 – 8 5 – 8 6 – 8
Tim Fitch Garden 2734 Rock Land Dr Washington 12 – 4 12 – 5 1 – 4 1 – 4
Dick Saunders Garden 2649 E Upper Canyon Dr Washington 12 – 4 12 – 5 1 – 4 1 – 4
Sun River Group
Charles Job HO 4840 Festival Park Circle Sun River 1 – 5 1 – 5 1 – 5 1 – 5
Bruce Klawitter HO 1549 W Garnet Ridge Dr Sun River 10 – 2 10 – 2 5 – 8
Bob Mallory Lionel 1942 Wide River Sun River 2 – 5 2 – 5
Dan Mangiaracina Lionel 1407 Silk Berry Sun River 12 – 3 12 – 3
Tom Meyers Garden 4739 High Park St Sun River 2 – 5 11 – 2 2 – 5 3 – 6
Byron Rasmussen Lionel 1731 Whitestone Dr Sun River 10 – 2 10 – 2 5 – 8
Larry Schneider Garden 1681 Garnet Ridge Rd Sun River 3 – 6:30 11 – 3:30 12 – 4 4 – 6:30
Dick Wilson Garden 4818 Festival Park Cir Sun River 1 – 4 1 – 4 1 – 4 1 – 4


Event details

  • What: Color Country Model Railroad Club Annual Open House.
  • When: Friday, Nov. 11 through Monday, November 14; Times vary.
  • Where: Homes throughout Washington County.
  • Cost: Free.

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Email: jwitham@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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