Friday, October 20, 2023

Friday Fun: Rapido Visit and a Few Surprises!

A while back, Bill mentioned that a few of his coworkers would be in town for a meeting and asked if it'd be ok if they visited the layout while they were here. Well, if you know Bill, you know these weren't your run-of-the-mill coworkers - but employees of one of the preeminent model railroad manufacturers in the industry - Rapido Trains. So of course I agreed they could visit!

As the day got closer, I learned that their visit would be part of an annual open house that they do for the public and dealers - and this year it would be held at the Essex Steam Train & Riverboat. Since the Valley RR is just 4 miles up the road, I figured I should probably stop in and at least say "hi." I'm so glad I did!

Even though it's the "Essex Steam Train & Riverboat," a diesel inexplicably greets you as you pull into the lot.

The Rapido event was held in the beautifully restored Dickinson Witch Hazel Warehouse building. This is also where the Valley RR holds its board meetings.

While I figured I'd just go say hi to Bill and see some of the Rapido guys before they came over to the house, I was pleasantly surprised to find a few other familiar faces that had come much further than I to be here. That's John Sheridan on the left and of course many of you know the Grand PooBah of the NERPM, Dave Owens.

I think the steam train was up the line, but here's one of the VRR's diesels, powering the lunch train.

After spending more time than I expected visiting with some friends at the show, I had to high-tail it back to the house to get set up in time for the actual visit I'd planned for.

It seems Rapido is always growing and there were a few more folks than I expected - including a surprise visit by non-Rapido employee David Popp who was covering the event for Model Railroader magazine. I certainly wasn't expecting that!

And Dan Darnell brought a little "layout warming" gift in the form of this awesome Texaco tanker! He actually smuggled transported it over the border in a pill bottle! And it was so newly-done you could still smell the paint.

I'd only planned on the Sunday visit, knowing that the Monday activities were for Rapido dealers. But on a whim, I decided during my lunch break to head back over to the railroad to see what was going on - and got a couple other surprises!

As I was walking down the platform, what to my wondering eyes should appear but Otto Vondrak, the editor of Railroad Model Craftsman!

Of course, the 3025 never disappoints. Here she is about to take the Rapido folks and their dealers on a trip north and a ride on the river.

Since he couldn't make it the previous day, Rapido's Jason Shron came over to see the Valley Line on Monday - and David Popp again tagged along! It was very cool to get to visit with them a bit in a much more low-key environment. David took lots of photos and video so who knows?! Maybe the Valley Local will be popping up in MR sometime soon!

What I thought was going to be "just a few of Bill's coworkers visiting the layout sometime Sunday afternoon" turned out to be a pretty epic weekend! Not only did I get to spend some nice time with the Rapido folks - many of whom I've gotten to know better over the years - but I was able to meet a few new guys as well. I even got to take care of some NHRHTA business over lunch.

It's certainly not every day that a major model railroad manufacturer and the editors of the two most prestigious model railroad magazines come to your neighborhood - or house! but I'm so grateful that living near the EST&R/Valley RR provides these opportunities. It's really SO much more than just a prototype I model.

And as if that all weren't enough, check these out - pretty much a daily occurrence on the (prototype) Valley Line...


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