I first started trying my hand at model railroading in my teenaged years. My first set was a Tyco Silver Streak train set that had brass track. I never got it to run very well. I know my uncle loved trains but he wasn’t very close so I didn’t have anyone to really guide me or help with any questions. This was pre-internet days. I had no idea that there might even be the possibility of a club near by. Fast forward about 15 years. I had started back into trains a bit after college when I heard about the NMRA National Convention coming to my city! I couldn’t believe how many adults talked about, lived and breathed trains for a whole week! It was so awesome!
Over the next several years I attended a few meetings but was mostly a “lone wolf” modeler. When moving to Utah my wife was the one with the idea of building a ride-on train in the backyard. Again, I didn’t know anyone in the area who was into trains and did it all on my own. This time I had the internet and learned a few things that way but otherwise it was mostly by trial and error. Fast forward another 10 years. Now I am part of the Northern Utah Division and have met a lot of great people! I have shared over the internet, and in person, my modeling with thousands of people. I learn what I can from other modelers and share my knowledge with whoever is interested to know more.
I think there is a time and place for both types of modeling – on your own or with others. Oftentimes work, family or other responsibilities don’t allow the time for one to make it to meetings or events. That’s OK. However, if you can, I would highly recommend getting together with others. Our associations with others in a common activity, whether we call them friends or merely acquaintances, allows for a common bond that I believe enriches our lives.
That first National Convention I attended I brought a model to enter into the contest. I didn’t really understand the judging criteria back then and was devastated when it scored so poorly. I thought I had done a pretty good job and I felt like the judge just said, “Nice try, kid.” He was actually very kind and explained why it received such a low score. Less than a year later I hesitantly entered a model when attending a Logging Modeler’s Convention. To my great surprise, I was awarded a First Place award! It was by popular vote, not points, but I had used what I had learned and improved my skills!
I encourage you to become more involved in our Division. Our attendance at the monthly events has increased, which is great, but there are so many more that we could benefit from seeing and interacting with you more. We just had our first track laying “party” at the new Shay Park in Saratoga Springs. There were only four of us but it went well for our first session. I’m glad I was able to offer some of my knowledge from laying my own track in my backyard many years ago.
The next time we will be laying track is planned for June 25th with about 300’ of track. To get on the email list for updates send an email to Mike Hansen – firstname.lastname@example.org and he will let you know the time. It was a good amount of guys we had for the amount of work to be done. Next time there will be more track so it would be good to have more people.
If you don’t want to work outside, the layout we are working on at Discovery Gateway children’s museum could use a few more people too. Blaine and Geoff are coordinating those work crews. See the Division website for the calendar:http://northernutahnmra.org/calendar/
As we share our love of trains with others, work together on special projects, attend DOG operating sessions, expand our skills at clinics or whatever the activity is, we can enjoy the journey together!