NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - For the last two months, model train engineer George Ellis has been setting up his model train display inside the Nacogdoches Train Depot.
“So, the next thing we’ll do is unload these logs,” Ellis said as he demonstrated how a side display rolled tiny plastic logs into a rail car.
For nine years, Ellis’ seasonal gift to himself and the community is to share the love of model trains with spectators of all ages.
“At the end of these nine days, it all goes back in its original box and I’ve got trains in every closet of the house,” Ellis said with a smile.
This year's surprise is the trains zoom in and out of familiar spots to Nacogdoches residents.
Businesses and landmarks are prominently displayed.
The mobile book library finds a parking spot. KTRE and its transmitter can be found. The Fredonia Hotel's "Restored. Renewed. Remarkable." billboard has a prominent spot.
The message can apply to Ellis himself.
“People that come here, they connect with the display,” Ellis said.
There's a concern the hobby may end up derailed. Ellis says the industry is keeping up with the times.
"Today the starter sets can be run by a Bluetooth, so kids can run them right off their phone. So, the technology is running
right along," shared Ellis.
Ellis' role in preserving the hobby is inviting young engineers, including Ben Kraig, to run their trains on the elaborate track setup. The 8-year old was attracted to the hobby by, "the sounds of it."
The distinctive sound is loud and causes Ellis and spectators to have to force their conversation in order to be heard.
Eleven-year-old Israel Jones is drawn to post-war models.
"Which is after World War II or during World War II. And those are pretty good locomotives," explained Jones.
Jones learned about the hobby from videos. When he asked for a model for Christmas, his wish was granted.
Ellis showed how little plastic cattle can be sent into a rail car. And Joe, the barrel man loading up cans of milk.
“You ever hear of a milk run,” Ellis asked. Then he proceeded to tell them all about it using his model train as the teaching tool.
The schedule is:
November 29th to December 1st, December 6th to 8th, and December 13th to15th. The Depot will be open on Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
The Nacogdoches Railroad Depot is located at 101 Old Tyler Road, Nacogdoches, TX 75961. For more information, contact the Historic Sites Department at (936) 560-4443 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Facebook at Nac Historic Sites.