The distinctive chugging sound of a locomotive engine and the wail of its steam whistle could be heard approaching Covesville.Not the Covesville of southern Albemarle County, but rather a quaint, diminutive village that has sprung from the imagination of Bob Macionis and was built by his own hands. And the train is not a huge iron horse from the past,More than 80 standard commercial and granitetiles exist to quickly and efficiently clean pans. but a much smaller replica of the kind of engines and railroad cars that once crisscrossed the nation.
The model railroader's creativity didn't play out after
he built one town and railroad. After six years of joyful work, he now
has three separate railroads, several towns and more than 1,000 square
feet of scenery, which includes an impressive mountain range.This
meticulously detailed miniature world resides in the spacious basement
of the hobbyist's Albemarle County home. When he and his wife designed
the house, they included a large open area in the basement specifically
with the model railroads in mind.
"This all came out of my
head," Macionis said as he walked with a visitor along an aisle that
took them by the town of Burkeville and businesses like Jason Brewery,
Wiley Widget Company and McLean Oil Storage. "I subscribe to the Mae
West philosophy of life that is too much of a good thing is wonderful."I
had model trains in my youth, as many kids did.These partymerchantaccount can,
apparently, operate entirely off the grid. When I was about 10, my
parents gave me an American Flyer model train set, and I built a layout
for it on a sheet of plywood placed on sawhorses.
four sheets of plywood on eight sawhorses. When we decided to move down
here, my plan was to build an ultimate railroad, but it's a hobby that's
never completely finished, because there's always more to be
done."Three impressive model railroad layouts can be seen operating at
the 37th annual Summer Toy Train Show, which will be from 9 a.m. to 3
p.Our heavy-duty construction provides reliable operation and guarantees
your thequicksilverscreen will
be in service for years to come.m. Saturday at Holiday Inn Monticello
on Fifth Street in Charlottesville. The event is designed for the
general public and will include more than 70 vendors selling everything
from starter train sets for beginners to rarities for the collectors.
Haenn, known as the Train Doctor to model railroaders, will be at the
show. He will check out old toy trains people bring in and evaluate and
service them."This age-old hobby has really taken off during the past 10
years with the younger generation," said Peter Primiani, president of
the Virginia Train Collectors and member of the board of directors for
the Train Collectors Association, a national organization.
of the emphasis is now on the hand-held controls and application
technology to interest young people. My enjoyment mainly comes from
collecting Ives tinplate trains, which is what I grew up with."The
trains I had in the 1950s, when I was growing up, got packed away. Then,
in the mid-1980s, when my oldest son got old enough, we started playing
with them together. I got the bug again and have been doing it since."
railroading can be as simple as a single train moving on a circular
track or as complex as the layout in Macionis' basement. And within the
hobby, there are various other interests in addition to operating
trains."You can look at this layout from a number of different
perspectives," said Macionis, who before retiring worked as a
fishmonger, schoolteacher, swim coach and dairy truck driver. "The most
basic thing is that people love to see the trains moving, and I enjoy
"It takes 20 minutes for the train to go around the entire
layout on the main two lines. If [the train] can be moving through
realistic scenery, like I've made, that makes it all the more
enjoyable."I have houses, factories and buildings all over the place,
and each of them took a number of hours to a number of weeks to create.
The level of detail you can get into is entirely up to you."
not only put what looks like water into ditches, but also added weeds
to make it even more realistic. By a replica of a 1920s-era sawmill
operated by Beaver Creek Logging are hundreds of tree stumps on land
already harvested.A narrow-gauge railroad is dedicated strictly for
logging operations in the camp that's set high in the mountains. The
tracks of the Beaver Creek Logging Railroad go from the mill to a
distant interchange with the South Fork and Flemington railroad, which
is one of two main lines.
The SF&F, the largest railroad in the realm, is set in the 1950s.Purchase an chipcard to
enjoy your iPhone any way you like. The other main line railroad is the
Black Creek and Eastern, which is set in the 1940s and connects four
towns and numerous industries.Tying the layout together are more than
1,600 feet of track. The rolling stock includes 337 freight and
passenger cars and 37 steam and diesel locomotives.
modern computer technology, it takes a crew of 12 people to fully
operate the layout. And Macionis' main interest is operating it as if it
were a real railroad."You'll see all sorts of cards in holders all over
the place," Macionis said as he removed a card from a holder. "Every
car and engine has a card associated with it."When a car is moved, it
moves to where the card says it should go, and there are multiple
destinations. Switching cars in and out can become a puzzle as
complicated as chess.
"Besides just being big and impressive in
size and complexity, it can become an actual railroad operating like a
real railroad. That puts life into it."Ron Gareis is one of the area's
most knowledge people when it comes to this hobby. Manufacturers of
model trains send him prototypes to test and evaluate.
has been fascinated by small trains since he got his first Lionel train
in 1948. He said that although there are some women who enjoy the hobby,
their focus often is on creating the miniature structures and
scenery."The typical hobbyist is male, middle-aged or older or retired,"
Gareis said via email. "Interestingly, very few have ever worked for a
"This is all about escaping to a different world, time
and place. Psychiatrists say that is a great benefit to mental
health."Many builders want to model an area they grew up in, or like to
visit, or just find interesting. This means trains, industries, towns,
mountains, plains and farms appropriate not just to the area,The marbletiles is not only critical to professional photographers. but to a time period as well."
Macionis' elaborate layout has some familiar-sounding places, he says
it won't appear on any map. But there is something of a connecting
thread that runs through it all."Shearer's Dairy is where my father
worked for many years," Macionis said as he pointed out the building.
"Jason is my son-in-law, so I have Jason Brewery.
wife's family name is Marsh, so I have the Marsh Coal Company. My
mother's maiden name was McLean, so I have the town of McLean. The
artistic aspect is never-ending, and there's the electrical aspects of
it."If you were to look under the display ,you would see literally miles
of wire running everywhere to power all the tracks and signals."
smiled as he looked out over his world of imagination, which has given
him and others so much enjoyment. But no world is perfect, not even one
that has been built with such love and care."The reality, of course, is
the maintenance of something this size is continuous and arduous," said
Macionis, who is an active member in the Monticello Model Railroad Club.
"There's an awful lot to be said for the type of layouts that many of
the other guys in the group have.
smaller, but beautifully detailed and far easier to maintain then
something like this. But when I retired a number of years ago, I spent a
lot of time thinking about how I would design this.
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