I Never Had A Train

 Posted by at 12:44 am  Nick's Blog
Sep 212012

It’s very possible that I am the only boy of my generation who never had a model train when he was growing up. I’m not sure if that was because my folks couldn’t afford one, or didn’t think I’d shown any interest, or (more likely) they realized what a klutz I was, even at a young age, and didn’t think it was very good idea to give me anything that included moving parts or electricity. They were pretty smart that way.

But I’ve always admired the model train layouts that I’ve seen over the years. Not so much the trains, to be honest with you, but rather the actual layouts; all of the buildings that make up the little trackside communities. I’ve seen layouts with stores, saloons, houses, banks, and of course, railroad depots. I think they appeal to me for the same reason that I love writing fiction; it’s the ability to create your very own little world and control how it looks and what happens in it. I’m sure a psychologist could make something out of that.


Layout 2

All that being said, when Greg White told me about a place called Entertrainment Junction in Cincinnati a while back, I wasted no time in contacting them about a couple of press passes so we could come by and do a story. They were happy to accommodate us, so yesterday we went to check it out.

This isn’t your grandpa’s model train layout! The place was amazing. It is the world’s largest indoor model train layout, with over 25,000 square feet and 2½ miles of track. I don’t care how old you are, when you tour this place you’re a kid again!


Train 2

The layout is in G scale, which stands for garden, since most G scale layouts are built outside. The layout takes you from the earliest days of steam engine railroads through today’s powerful modern diesel locomotives. And the detail is amazing!

Layout 3

You can look in the windows of the stores, restaurants, and houses and see merchandise on the shelves, tables set for dinner, and people going about their daily lives. And it’s all built from scratch by the many faithful volunteers who help make this place a reality. In fact, owner Don Oeters told us that there were 65,000 man-hours invested to date in the creation of Entertrainment Junction.

Layout 4

This is a work in progress, and they are constantly adding new features and expanding the layout. Don gave us a behind-the-scenes tour of the workshop where everything is built, and explained how much research and work is involved.

Volunteer workshop

While the model train layout is the main feature, Entertrainment Junction has a lot more to offer. Kids love the A-Maze-N Funhouse, whose lobby is designed like a classic circus midway, complete with old time re-creations of arcade games, including an old-style coin-operated Zoltar fortune telling machine.

There are five separate sideshow circus tents, each with a different theme: Curtain Chaos, Clown College, Mirror Maze, Crazy Caper, and Outer Limits: Journey Through The Black Hole. The Mirror Maze is one of the largest of its kind in North America.

There is also a Thomas the Train that kids can ride on, a gift shop, restaurant, and a hobby shop filled with model trains, buildings for layouts, and any other accessory a model railroader could want or need.

Thomas Train

We spent about three hours at Entertrainment Junction, and could have stayed even longer, but we had dropped Miss Terry off at Jungle Jim’s on the way, and needed to pick her up. But you can bet it’s a place we’ll be going back to see again.

I will have a feature on Entertrainment Junction in an upcoming issue of the Gypsy Journal. If a grown up kid can’t have his own model train layout, it’s the next best thing!

Thought For The Day – I will never be over the hill, because I’m too darned tired to climb it.

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Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  10 Responses to “I Never Had A Train”

  1. I wonder if Tom Westerfield, conductor (president) of the Golden Spike Club, has discovered this place.

  2. Never had a train set either. I did have a little stationary steam engine though. That was hours of fun.
    I just went back to take a gander at a post you wrote some time in 09 (I think, it was five minutes ago and now I forget).
    I had to laugh at some of the blinkered thinking of the clubs who wanted you to come and speak for free. Or were looking to “trade advertising space”, but then still wanted money from you. Good fun stuff.
    And they wonder why their numbers are down?

  3. Loved reading this blog as I have always enjoyed trains of any size. When I was maybe 5 or 6 years old, my parents (Santa Claus) bought me an electric train that would be an antique now. (Early 40’s vintage). My dad had great fun setting up the track and helping me to play with it. As I look back, maybe the train set was more his wish to have a train than to give it to me. At any rate, I wish I still had that set. Incidentally, I am a female, but my parents were ahead of the times in their thinking and always gave me toys for both genders for which I am very happy.If you ever get up in Western New York about 30 miles east of Niagara Falls, in a town called Medina, there is a wonderful display in an old train depot of trains and things associated with trains.It is an ongoing building of towns, etc but very interesting.

  4. Mike had a great model train, long ago his ex asked for it so she could give the set to their son for Christmas–the grinch sold it instead of giving it to Mike’s son!! Fast forward to me–after hearing this sad tale I found and purchased a train set one year for Mike for Christmas, he loved it–said the cars almost perfectly matched his original ones. We lost that train in a fire in our barn–guess he is not destined to have a train!

  5. I reluctantly went to see one of these in Chattanooga, Tennessee and was blown away. You really can get lost in all those little scenes. Very cool.

  6. Nick
    Another train layout that is over the top is Northlandz in Flemington, New Jersey. This HO layout is in a three story building built for the layout. You start at the top and work your way down. It took us a long time to see everything. If you are lucky enough to be there when the owner is there, he will play the huge Pipe Organ that sits in the middle of the building. It is a must see.

  7. what an interesting place to visit. Mike never had a train either when he was small. Our youngest son bought him one about 12 yrs ago. He set it up and spent hours watching it go around and around. When our grandson was born and we went full timing our grandson inherited it. I also remember my dad having one and it being set up during the holidays to run under the Christmas tree. Fun times for all

  8. Hubby would love seeing a place like this!! My uncle was into such things and they took over a part of their home and made many scenic rail setups…my aunt is an artist so she did all that…and it was something they enjoyed working on together. He died in June and now HIS kids want all that divied up….hmm, wonder if my aunt should just let them have the trains and keep her artwork?? Death brings out such lovely things in people eh?

  9. I got my first train at 4 months old and still have it. It only ran around the Christmas tree.
    Nick if you have time there ts a cathedral in Florence KY that is as nice as anything I saw in Europe. They don’t advertise it as an KY attraction but they do give tours. Artist from all over the world built it.

  10. If you every come back to Arkansas, you should check this one out in Hot Springs. I went as a young child, then took my kids and plan to take my new grandaughter once she is old enough. It has been in Hot Springs 50 years now.


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