South Bay residents of all ages were fascinated by the model trains on display and running, full steam ahead in some cases, at the Edward Peterman Museum of Railroad History spring open house April 2 and 3 at the Santa Clara Caltrain station, 1005 Railroad Ave.
The museum, operated by the South Bay Historical Railroad Society (SBHRS), has two operational HO and N scale model railroad layout displays that depict various railroad eras and operations venues from around the Santa Clara Valley. Everything is designed and hand-crafted by SBHRS members.
Open house volunteer John Fleischer joined the 90-plus-member railroad society because of his grandson.
“My grandson is very interested in trains. He started with ‘Thomas’ books. I had a layout, too, as a kid.”
“It’s my hobby. I just like trains period. I think they’re fun to play with,” said Josh Adams, Fleisher’s 11-year-old grandson, who was operating a Union Pacific model train. Using a remote control, he guided it past a miniature replica of Mission Santa Clara, an apricot orchard in bloom and a fruit packing shed. It continued into a tunnel through a mountain.
A 19-car, orange and black Great Northern model train whistled in the distance. A model steam locomotive chugged by, bellowing smoke from its chimney.
“It’s really beautiful. It looks authentic,” said SBHRS member Edward Thelen, pointing out that the old locomotives from the steam era burned either coal or wood.
Steam engines now operate as tourist attractions at Felton’s Roaring Camp Railroads in the Santa Cruz mountains (www.roaringcamp.com) and Niles Canyon Railway (www.ncry.org) at Niles and Sunol.
San Jose residents Alex and Inna Vayner lifted their children, Michael (4) and Anna (2), for a better view of the trains.
“Michael loves trains. He’s fascinated. He likes to ride trains in Vasona Park [in Los Gatos in December] and Roaring Camp. And Anna, she’s like a copy cat,” said Inna Vayner.
The spring open house is one of two annual fund raisers for SBHRS, which is allowed to use the historic Caltrain building, dating from 1863, in exchange for maintaining it, a switch tower and two maintenance-of-way buildings.
The 2015 spring and fall open houses netted around $12,000 dollars, earmarked for operating and maintenance expenses such as electricity, water and repairs, according to SBHRS treasurer Steve Costa.
The depot, which can be rented for parties, is open Tuesdays, 6 p.m.-9 p.m. and Saturdays, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Admission is free. For information, visit www.sbhrs.org.