Railroaders set up shop at Weiser Depot

Philip A. Janquart
It was a great week to be a train enthusiast in Weiser.
 The Caldwell Model Railroad Club and Historical Society put on a show at the Weiser Train Depot last week from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday.
 Hundreds, including enthusiasts and many others, filed through the depot to see five different train layouts in action. They were also given the opportunity to speak with club members about getting into the hobby, gather insight on how to fix their own locomotives, or tips about creating their own train world.
 “It was great; I thought it worked out really well and it was nice and cool in there for everybody,” Lisa McKnight, event organizer and Weiser Architectural Preservation Committee board member, told the Signal American on Monday. “Everything went really smooth and it was just wonderful.”
 Also on site were authors Ken Walston and Butch Cornell. 
 Walston has written a series of books on Weiser’s long history and is now working on his sixth volume. 
 Cornell wrote “Thunder in the Mountains,” which involves the Seven Devils mining district in Idaho. It gives information about the trials and tribulations of the country and about the towns of Landore, Cuprum, Helena, Decorah, and others.
 There were many other publications available for purchase.
 “A lot of people came and we sold quite a few books,” McKnight said, adding that holding the event during Fiddle Week, which ran from June 17-22, worked out great.
 More than 70 people came through the depot in the first 45 minutes of the show on Friday.
 “People especially came in following the parade on Saturday,” McKnight noted. “I think people wanted to come look at the depot, too. It was an opportunity to go and look inside, especially if they have never been inside, so it was the perfect location for the show.”
 A bonus attraction was Union Pacific trains that roared by the depot intermittently, adding excitement to an already buzzing crowd.
 Anthony Shaber, a 2020 Weiser High School graduate, took a break from Fiddle Week activities to come see what the show had to offer. He gave his version of why trains have such an appeal.
 “I think there is a surety in trains; if a building could move, it’d be a train,” he said. “They have a lastingness, but also movement to them, which I think is fascinating.”
 Past president Rob Saunders said that his club has about 35 members and 12 teen members.
 “We call them associate members,” he said. “We don’t charge the kids, but we do have a requirement for participation in activities. We want to teach people, both kids and adults.
 We don’t want them just running trains and going in circles; we want to teach them about all the interesting aspects of model railroading, including building the scenery and interesting layouts, and so many other things.”
 One of those things is the technology behind today’s model railroads.
 “We do what is called digital command control, so the track is always live,” explained Saunders who is a defense contractor for the U.S. Navy. “There is a digital signal and every locomotive has a chip and is listening for the signal.”
 He controls any number of engines via a handheld digital device similar to an iPad. There are also apps that allow you to run the trains on your phone.
 “Everybody is different, whether they enjoy creating their own little world, the engines and cars themselves, or the digital or electrical side of it,” he said. “It’s something geared toward the young and the not so young.”
 For more information on the club, visit https://sites.google.com/view/caldwell-model-railroad-club.


Signal American

18 E. Idaho St.
Weiser, ID 83672
PH: (208) 549-1717
FAX: (208) 549-1718

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