Many residents and tourists turned out last weekend to see Winslow's First Annual Railroad Days. Many train enthusiasts came from as near as Flagstaff and as far as British Columbia to see the event. Event organizer, Dan Lutzick said the event had a marvelous turnout and that he was pleased with the way it went.
Hundreds of feet of N-scale model tracks were laid-down in the Snowdrift Art Gallery and at the Railroad Depot at the La Posada. The Old Trails Museum and the Seattle Grind also has many articles of railroad culture, which included many pictures and railroad memorabilia.
"At least 85 people came in on Saturday. This was more attendance than the museum has ever recorded before," said Ruth LeGate, director of the Old Trails Museum. "Many Winslow locals came out, too and that was wonderful to see them here because we do not see many locals come in often."
The Old Trails had some Santa Fe decorations and railroad music and DVDs for sale, which generated over $200 for the museum.
Lutzick said that a good thing about this event is that it generated interest in the community for Winslow's history, to where some people came forward with pictures of the Harvey Girls and knowledge of Winslow's history that was unknown to the museum beforehand.
"I see that with more events like this, we may see more people bring out old photos and old collections of stuff," he said.
Something about collecting is intrinsic to model railroaders too. Looking at their models of miniature towns and monuments, one cannot help but wonder how they do it.
"We actually get most of our materials right out in our own backyards," said Gary Copus, of the Tucson Arizona Southwest Model Railroad Society.
Larry Davis of the Prescott Valley N-track Club, walked around explaining many of the scenes or sections of the track ‹ by which one section was of Winslow and Flagstaff. N-track is a scale used by modelers where they build things 33 feet to the mile. Tiny trees made from backyard shrubs rolled in some green fuzzy material created the juniper of our area along canyon lands and hills made of foam; sprinkled with sand.
Tiny replicas were made of places like the Hotel Mote Vista in Flagstaff of the La Posada in Winslow ‹ each nearly exact to where you know they did not purchase generic structures for imitation.
"We go to the library and find old photos or videos of historic information on buildings in a town or area. We try to find the best or most symbolic of buildings in a community to replicate. Next, we purchase plastic parts at model shops and scratch the appropriate designs into each building," Davis said.
Davis said that it took he and artist Diane Matthews about four months to finish the Winslow model section with each building taking about 3-4 days to complete. He said he enjoys making models of areas around the country that he has traveled to.
Other railroad clubs that participated had models of Mount Rushmore, Pennsylvania, Canyon Diablo and the local power plants, Tucson, Florida and the North Pole.
"The 'Mount Rushmore' and the 'North Pole' sections of the track were my favorites because they are so well done and interesting to view," said Cindy Norris, in town with her husband Mark Norris from Vacaville, Calif.
A few railroad modelers said that this hobby is addicting, but that it can also be a great family event. Getting into the details of building and planning your own small community is great fun, they all said.
Aside from the short notice and understaffed planning for this first Railroad Days, Lutzick and the model railroad participants were pleased and look forward to bigger planning in the future.
"Next year we should start building on this event 3-4 months in advance," Lutzick said.
Copus said he and his fellow club members were not sure before they got to Winslow of how everything was going to fit in their venue, as these tracks often require a massive amount of space.
"We began this club in someone's garage, but as we grew, we then moved out to the local airbase near Tucson. Some time later the base commander found-out and stormed down to where we were and kicked us out and we ended back in another garage," he said.
Copus said they would go to any event they can and that many more would have come to Winslow's Railroad Days if they had heard about it earlier and could have planned for it.
Art Lake, a member of the Flagstaff Model Railroad Club, enthusiastically watched the small trains run around the tracks in the Snowdrift art space. He said that his group did not have a display because they are relatively new and would have needed more time to put something together for the event.
Even if they cannot display, all the model railroaders do enjoy going out and traveling to share their passion with others. Many at the Winslow Railroad Days said they would soon be going to a model railroad convention in Denver, Colo. and that there will be thousands of people in attendance there.
"I see this venue and event in Winslow as having much potential for growth. It went well enough this time that we all will look forward to coming back next year," Copus said.
Though the event is now over, the old Winslow train history photos will still be on display at the Seattle Grind for another month.