My mother took me to my first model train show when I was 14 months old, and the whole thing spiraled out of control from there. Around the age of two I was very sick for several weeks, and when I was well enough to attend train shows again, various model train club members commented that they hadn't seen me in a while! I am told that at one point of my childhood, I had as many as 17 different "train sets," different scales, brands, and so on. My personal favorites included my wooden trains (seen below,) an HO scale 4x8 layout I built with my dad, and my Duplo trains which paved the way for what was to come.
I wasn't one to put random things in my mouth when I was little, so my parents moved me on to actual Legos from Duplos by the age of 5. While visiting family a couple of years later, my cousin had a collection of Lego 9-volt train sets encircling his living room. Of course, being a lover of trains and Lego bricks, I *had* to have some Lego trains of my own! The following Christmas a full complement of Lego train sets appeared under the tree; a steam engine with a mixed freight train, extra track, and of course a motor and controller. The convenience of already having a sizeable Lego collection meant that I was able to build a fully detailed layout entirely from bricks. The circle of track (with switches!) was enough to fill a conventional 30"x72" folding table; a standard I would encounter for future public exhibitions.
My first model train show was at the Fairfax Station Railroad Museum, on the first weekend of December 2001. The annual Holiday train show was already so packed with layouts, the only spot left to put me was in the caboose. With only enough space for one table, I fit a loop of track with sidings, a Lego Harry Potter castle borrowed from a friend, several American flags in the wake of 9/11, and a smattering of Christmas knick knacks borrowed from my mother's holiday decor collection. Kids barely younger than me were amazed at what I could pull off, and the adults were all so supportive and kind, I repeated the show the following year!
At the end of the 2002 show, I was asked to participate in a couple of other train shows at the museum throughout the year, and since then I've maintained a fairly solid schedule of 2-3 displays each year at Fairfax Station. I also displayed for a couple of years at a toy train collectors meeting, as well as public shows at the Lyceum in Alexandria. I even signed up for Greenberg shows, where I could use every bit of track I owned, but unfortunately schoolwork began to get in the way of having time for such larger shows. Thankfully I had learned from the mistakes of my forefathers; too many hobby magazine articles about great layouts included heartbreaking stories about well-meaning parents giving away train collections, selling them, or worse, simply throwing out what would now be valuable collectors items! I made a promise to myself that no matter how busy my life got, I would always hold onto my trains. This vow is well-evidenced in my massive Lego train collection today.
Over 700 pieces of track, 16 motors, 10 transformers, nearly 400 wheelsets and lord knows how many individual bricks. I consider myself a model railroader of L scale, in that I am doing my best to build a working model railroad entirely out of Lego bricks, balancing realism with the limitations of a 3D-pixel medium , as well as incorporating a sense of whimsy and fun that accompanies most Lego sets. I am working on increasing my show count per year, as my work schedule permits (can't play trains if I haven't got money to buy trains with!) and building an online presence that will document the techniques, philosophies and fun behind my ever-growing Lego train collection. Thanks for stopping by, and enjoy the website!