Loblolly model train pulls into Gregg County Historical Museum

Loblolly Train Display

LONGVIEW, Texas (KLTV) - The Gregg County Historical Museum is getting ready to once again host the Loblolly Model Train and Holiday Village exhibit.

KLTV’s Arthur Clayborn got a sneak peek at this year’s display, which volunteers say takes about two weeks to set up.

“The track and all of that is prelaid. We simply put the four-by-eight sheets down and secure them and then we set up the dioramas, a lot of dioramas,” said Loblolly volunteer Steve Gatton.

He said the idea is to tell stories, including an operating drive-in movie theater, airport and billboard — all on a miniature scale of course.

“A lot of grandparents bring their grandchildren. This is a period layout from the 40s and 50s. It gives the grandparents an opportunity to talk to their grand kids when they ask questions about what’s that and it’s a drive-in theater, or why do the automobiles look like that. There’s a lot of interaction between grand kids and grandparents.”

Fred Bauer is also a Loblolly volunteer. Today, he’s a Loblolly train conductor, but his love for trains was sparked by a ride he took as a small child.

“My father took me on a ride on the Long Island Railroad to New York City to the Lionel Showroom, and that was the end of it all, and I have loved trains ever since,” Bauer said.

Bauer lays the tracks, does the electrical and a few other things to get the exhibit ready for visitors.

“If you notice the way the trains go by, they are straight. I am particular with straight track,” he said.

Bauer also highlighted the Loblolly exhibit is not just for kids and that the adults he sees are just as excited.

“You can see the expression on their faces, really. When they think back when it was really, when it was not Amtrak, it was Union Pacific or whatever the other railroad companies were. It’s really something to see the expression on their faces," Bauer said.

When the trains start to chug along and the village lights up, Bauer not only gets satisfaction from a job well done, but from watching others enjoy the result.

“When I see a little kid, it makes me think back to when I was their age," he said. “Going on a train ride, going to New York City, seeing the Lionel Showroom. It’s something. I’m never gonna forget it.”

The Loblolly Model Train and Holiday Village Exhibit runs Dec. 4 through Dec. 21. It’s open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays. Admission is $5 for adults, $2 for seniors, and $1 for children. The Gregg County Historical Museum is at 214 N. Fredonia Street in Longview.

Click here for more information about the museum and its holiday events.

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