Xavier Hunsberger, 4, wearing a conductor cap and junior engineer badge watches a train round the curve during the William S. Hart Train Show presented by the High Desert Modular Model Train Club at William S. Hart Park on Saturday, September 14, 2019. Dan Watson/The Signal

Full steam ahead at ‘The William S. Hart Train Show’

With more than a dozen passenger and freight trains chugging along the tracks, passing through various sceneries, including cities, mining towns and countrysides, the weekend-long modular train show entertained visitors of all ages at Hart Park.

Members of the High Desert Modular Model Railroad Club welcomed visitors, answering their questions while operating the various trains. 

Video by Gilbert Bernal/The Signal

“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Lynn McCurdy, the club’s media director, adding that this is a small setup for them. 

“I don’t even have a third of my stuff here,” the club’s scenery director Ben Diaz added.

The club still managed to fill the 90-by-40-foot room with as much as the fire marshalls would allow, each module highlighting a different scene with trains running across the foreground. 

High Desert Modular Model Railroad Club member Lynn McCurdy, center, assists Max Keller, 12, with his controller during the William S. Hart Train Show and at William S. Hart Park on Saturday, September 14, 2019. Dan Watson/The Signal

For train lovers like 12-year-old Max Keller, a Newhall resident, shows like this are one of his favorite excursions. In fact, according to Keller’s mother, Christina Stroffolino, he’s addicted to trains. 

“He’s got his own sets at home, and his grandfather loves trains,” Stroffolino said, adding that events like these are special for him. 

A constant stream of “whoas” and “wows” could be heard as Keller followed the trains around and around the tracks.

“This is something I want to make,” Keller told his mother regarding one scene. 

Brandon Boden, 9, wirelessly drives a model train during the William S. Hart Train Show presented by the High Desert Modular Model Railroad Club and held at William S. Hart Park on Saturday, September 14, 2019. Dan Watson/The Signal

Though meaningful for the guests, shows are also just as important for the club members who created the modules, including Diaz, who has been with the club for almost 15 years.

“Since then, I started doing it, and I became a master modeler,” Diaz said. “It’s for everybody to enjoy, and it’s a fun hobby.” 

His pride and joy are his harbor scene, complete with a scale model of the USS Arizona before it sank at Pearl Harbor, which is completely made from scratch and took him a year to finish, as well as his newly completed space shuttle launch scene. 

“When I started doing the harbor scene, my first ship was the Liberty ship, and from there, it just took off until I started building big ships,” Diaz said, adding that he researches everything thoroughly before he even begins building.

Some of his other scenes include massive train bridges, complete with waterfalls and mountain scenes.

“I’m not a standard type of person — I try to do different things,” he added. “It’s a remembrance of who we are as Americans … a way to look back on our history.” 

Amy Jones , 11, watches the train in front of her as she drives her train round the curve during the William S. Hart Train Show presented by the High Desert Modular Model Train Club at William S. Hart Park on Saturday, September 14, 2019. Dan Watson/The Signal

Each setup was built by a different club member, and 90% of the parts that make up a scene come out of the trash, according to McCurdy. 

Regarding his mining town scene, McCurdy said 75% were made from miscellaneous scraps, such as a medicine bottle cut down and wrapped with toothpicks to make a water tower and the foil that seals a coffee can cut into pieces to create a roof. 

McCurdy is a former president of the club and said he has seen the club grow over the years. 

“Every year there’s something different — it’s never the same,” he said, adding that they are constantly creating new scenes or upgrading their current ones. 

At the event, kids ages 5 to 15 were also given the opportunity to run a train around the tracks, receiving a “Junior Engineer” sticker and certificate stating that they operated the train upon completion. 

The William S. Hart Train Show is scheduled 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 15, at William S. Hart Park’s Hart Hall, located at 24151 Newhall Ave. in Newhall. For more information, visit hdmmrc.com or call 661-433-1760.

Xavier Hunsberger, 4, wearing a conductor cap and junior engineer badge watches a train round the curve during the William S. Hart Train Show presented by the High Desert Modular Model Train Club at William S. Hart Park on Saturday, September 14, 2019. Dan Watson/The Signal

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