Model trains will be moving into the McGee Center for the Central Arkansas Model Railroad Club’s open house from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

This open house will be the final one of 2009 for the club, according to president Daniel Gladstone.

The type of displays shown at the open house are modules, or smaller model layouts on a 2-foot by 4-foot piece of wood. The smaller size allows people who have smaller homes or no spare areas to devote to their model railroad, the opportunity to build a layout.

“You can design this however you want,” Gladstone said, noting the only standard is the width of the track must be of the size that it will connect to other modules.

“A bunch of us have developed modules and are running trains on the modules,” Gladstone said. 

The modules can be of a favorite place, a fantasy place or anything the creator wants. Gladstone said working with model trains is a good way to bring parents and children together. 

“It is not just something that you see at your parents’ house at Christmas, watching a train go around the Christmas tree,” Gladstone said. “It is educational fun and can bring families together.”

“They can be totally realistic. A friend has a layout of where he grew up as a teenager. Another layout is of a UFO landing and has a UFO that blinks,” Gladstone said.

During the open house, members of the Central Arkansas club will be available to talk about their modules and explain them. 

The CAMRRC will be joined by members of the Crooked Rail Model Railroad Club for the event. The Crooked Rail Club will bring its layout that is about the size of a four-stall garage, according to Gladstone. The club is based in the Little Rock metro area. 

The Crooked Rail layout features a module of the Bates Motel, a Rocky Mountain ski village and a crash-landed UFO.

For those who like bigger model trains, a Heber Springs man will have his G-scale locomotive on display. This locomotive runs around the back of the man’s house and in his garden area. 

Youth who will be visiting can also participate in the activities through the Thomas the Tank Engine layout. 

Gladstone said children can drive the train around the layout. 

“If they follow the rules, they can earn a junior engineer certificate,” he said.

Another opportunity for learning will come from the organization “Operation Lifesaver.”

The organization will offer railroad safety tips as well as pictures and slides.

“They will tell people to be mindful of railroad tracks and crossings,” Gladstone said, noting that although the number of fatalities have been reduced, many railroad accidents occur.

The event is free to the public. 

In 2010, the club hopes to make its open houses a monthly event. 

In addition to open houses, the club also does model train layouts for charity, has set up the train at the Faulkner County Museum, makes a Christmas layout for the Festival of Lights and is working on the restoration of the train at the Conway Human Development Center.

For more information on the Central Arkansas Model Railroad Club, visit www.artrains.org. 

(Staff writer Holly Latimer can be reached by e-mail at holly.latimer@thecabin.net or by phone at 505-1236. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)