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 |
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.|
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...