|Heritage Model Trains Article|
Model Trains as a Hobby
Since early in the 1840s model railways have been capturing the hearts of citizens from kings to presidents and from farm boys to movie stars; it is an age old hobby. The list would be too long to even attempt and it seems more important to consider why model railroading has become so important – and the lessons it has to teach us all.
It all began with the carpet railway which was a simple brass steam engine with no track, and this evolved to the electric trains around the turn of the century. Even then these were rather crude and did not often resemble true locomotives. Today, model trains are by far much more realistic and a world away from their humble beginnings.
If we were to list all model railway manufacturers it would read like a phone book, from Accucraft Trains to Worsley Works – many companies make a fortune off of catering to this much loved hobby. They build products that include everything from tiny houses to the parts for the trains themselves. If everyone were to stop collecting model trains tomorrow, one can imagine the many people who would be out of a job, and the businesses that would shut down.
Then of course there would be the hobbyists… some happily profiting from the love of the hobby. This is one pastime that can build many different qualities in its admirers. It teaches ingenuity – you have to figure out how to fix problems with little more than tape and string and a bit of hope. You also learn a good deal about mathematics by having to figure different scales and sizes and do quite a bit of calculating as you become a firm believer in “what works best”.
People skills; you will learn to ask others how to best fix issues you might be having. It teaches social ability – you will join clubs or associations, make new friends with something in common with your love of trains. You will possibly join in a group building project… how fun would that be?
It also teaches you monetary skills. You soon learn how to stretch your dollar value as far as possible when yearning for those specials that are shown in catalogs; animals, movie theaters, railroad-crossing signs with lights that flash when your train approaches. You just know your train layout would not be complete without some of these.
Working with model trains teaches you all of this and more. It’s no wonder that it is the hobby of kings and poor alike; a hobby that lasts a lifetime. There is no hobby that I know of that challenges your imagination more and nearly always drives you to pass it down to your sons or daughters.
Esther Smith, author