February 4, 2012
We visited the first day of this year’s 21st Annual United Northwest Model Railroad Show, benefiting the Snohomish County 4-H Foundation, at the Evergreen State Fairgrounds in Monroe, WA. The show this year, as with previous years, is housed in a 50,000 square foot building at the fairgrounds and is supported by Amtrak.
This year there’s several model railroading manufacturers present as well as nearly 100 vendors. There’s over 20 different layouts from all over the region and from many different railroading clubs on display.
Each of the two days of the show, several clinics are presented that can help model railroaders learn new techniques for improving operations, realistic scenery and detailing, and railroading history. We caught the clinic on “Weathering with Chalks” presented by Walt Huston, and a later clinic presented by Paul Scoles, a famous modeler and author of many instructional DVDs on scenery techniques.
We saw many layouts, but the highlight was the host’s layout. Started as a high school project back in 1975, the United Northwest was originally a group of N scale modelers who later crafted a layout for display at the Pacific Science center in 1978. The layout and the club have evolved over the years since that first show into today’s much larger charitable organization. The N scale layout on display today is a work in progress for nearly 25 years. N-Trak takes up about 14 x 36 feet and is built in modules that are easy to take apart and transport. The layout doesn’t follow any particular era. It represents some of the highlights of Pacific Northwest railroading.
One of my favorite exhibitors each year is Baby Gramps who is a master of model detailing as well as a longtime Seattle folk singer. He has been exhibiting his unique modeling for over 30 years at various train shows across the northwest. He began building model trains with his twin boys when they were young, and he said he enjoys depicting the past. Gramps says his 8-foot-long display depicts the history of trains and the imaginative yet practical nature of past railroad engineers. You can visit his website to learn more about this multi-talented artist.