March 16, 2013

Expo has something for train enthusiasts of all ages

Some people say that Peter Moguel might have been a train engineer in a former life.

Some people say that Peter Moguel might have been a train engineer in a former life.

The 9-year-old, wearing a neon-yellow safety vest, kept a watchful eye Saturday on his model train engine as it circled a track at the Great Train Expo at Century II in downtown Wichita.

“I’m in charge of the BNSF locomotive. I have to make sure it stays on the track since it’s been in an accident a couple times,” the Gordon Parks Academy fourth-grader said earnestly.

Peter is a member of the Wichita Toy Train Club.

“I have no idea how I got into trains,” he admitted.

But he said he likes “everything” about them.

So much so that he spends most of his money on trains except for “sometimes McDonald’s when I’m hungry.”

Peter’s interest in trains – or “obsession,” as his grandmother Patricia Locks called it – began when he was 2. Locks, with whom Peter lives, said “as long as it’s trains, he’s happy.”

She said she used to hate getting stopped at railroad crossings and tried to avoid them.

Peter seeks them out.

“He calls it ‘rail fanning,’ ” she said.

Hundreds of people of all ages turned out for the train expo, which continues Sunday.

Earl Flickner, 83, helped with the Wichita Area Garden Railroad Society’s exhibit.

Members of the society set up model trains and tracks in their yards.

Flickner said he wasn’t interested in trains as a child but got into them about 30 years ago.

“It started with my brother-in-law selling model trains,” Flickner said. “I bought some from him.”

The club has about 20 members, said fellow member Herb Reeves. It helped put in the garden train at Botanica, and members help run the trains on weekends, Reeves said.

Reeves said he used to be into smaller model trains, “but as you get older, your eyes kind of fade.”

Working on the larger outdoor trains is easier, he said.

“Plus it gets you outside,” he said.

Peter Rusack brought two of his grandchildren, 5-year-old McKenzie Stark and 7-year-old Meghan Stark, to the expo.

“We’ve gone all over,” he said.

Meghan said her favorite part of the expo was “buying a toy.” She pulled a wooden animal train out of a plastic sack, showing off her loot.

Rusack recalled taking a train with his mother from Lake Champlain in New York to Worcester, Mass., “back when there were steam engines.”

“One of the things I like about trains compared to other forms of transportations is that you can get up and walk around. Plus you can see more.”

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