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A train trip back in time

Wayne Becker, a member of the Alexandria Model Railroad Association, controls the trains included in the association’s Christmas display. (Beth Leipholtz | Echo Press)1 / 2
The association’s Christmas display features a snow-covered village complete with a Lionel freight train and trolley and a Marx passenger train. (Beth Leipholtz | Echo Press)2 / 2

Upon watching the train circle the tracks, surrounded by a blanket of white with smoke billowing from the smokestack, it is easy to get caught up in the realistic touches to the scene. In fact, visitors may possibly even forget that it's a display.

That was the goal when the Alexandria Model Railroad Association set up its first-ever Christmas display for the public's enjoyment this year.

"This year, a couple of us about the same age decided that we would put together a Christmas display to kind of reminisce our childhood," association member Wayne Becker said. "This is a temporary display that will be taken down after Christmas, which is what our parents always required us to do when we were kids. So it's kind of a nostalgia trip for us."

The idea originated when member Lloyd Berger saw a similar display in a magazine.

"I saw a picture in a magazine that somebody had done this in their home and I thought it may be a good thing for the club to do and to invite the public in," Berger said.

The model railroad display features a snow-covered village complete with a Lionel freight train and trolley and a Marx passenger train.

"Most of it comes from Wayne (Becker)," Berger said. "He had the houses, the trains and the tracks, but we bought the styrofoam base and some white felt to simulate snow."

So far, members say they have seen interest from a wide array of visitors.

"There's been a lot of interest, young and old," Becker said. "We have stools for the kids to stand on and they're just wide-eyed, kind of like back in the day, looking at the department store window display. ... Maybe this is a good substitute for texting and being on the cell phones all the time."

The display will be open one final time to the public on Christmas Eve from 10 a.m. to noon at the Alexandria Model Railroad Association, which is located at 115 Eighth Ave E. However, the club members hope to recreate the display next year.

In the meantime, Becker says the Alexandria Model Railroad Association is always open to new members or those with curiosity about trains. The hours open to the public include Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon, and Monday evenings from 7 to 8:30 p.m.

"Anybody that is interested in railroading, either the real world or the hobby, this is here for them to enjoy," Becker said.

Beth Leipholtz

Beth is a reporter at the Echo Press. She graduated from the College of Saint Benedict in May 2015 with a degree in Communication and Hispanic Studies. Journalism has always been her passion, but she also enjoys blogging and graphic design. In her spare time, she's most likely at Crossfit or at home with her boyfriend and three dogs.

(320) 763-1233
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