Heart of Louisiana: Southwest Louisiana O-Gauge Model Railroad Club
SULPHUR, La. (WVUE) - There is just something about a model railroad that can bring a little town to life, and maybe even give us a glimpse into what it was like at some other place and time.
Tommmy Stutes is a retired chemical plant engineer turned model railroad engineer. As a member of the Southwest Louisiana O-Gauge Model Railroad Club, Stutes spends a lot of time underneath this layout, connecting the wiring and switches that keep the trains moving.
“We’ve got four lines that we run continuous, plus a trolley line,” Stutes said. “Putting all that together and being able to switch from one to the other, and our main line in one and two, we can actually switch from one to the other, so we could criss-cross trains while we run it without a problem.”
Stutes' club has a new home for its trains: the Brimstone Museum in Sulphur.
“We wanted to incorporate some element of historical authenticity to the model,” Thom Trahan, who works at the museum, said.
And the members of the Model Railroad Club are doing just that. They’ve spent the past two years creating tiny buildings that would fit a 1950s Lake Charles and recreating the mine in Sulphur.
“Now the Sulphur Mines is completely accurate,” Andy Buckley, Model Railroad Club member said. “We researched it, we got a couple of masters theses, interviewed some people, got pictures out of the archives of American Press and other sources. And it’s exactly like it was in 1922.”
McNamara: “I remember my grandfather’s train set. I got one for Christmas when I was two years old, and still have it. I’ve given them to my kids. What is it about guys and train sets?”
Buckley: “Well, it’s nostalgia. Looking back to when we were children, the presents we got at Christmas, the Lionel trains around the Christmas tree and just the magic.”
The closer you look, the more alive it seems, as trains pass each other on their imaginary journeys through nostalgic landscapes.
“As the historical society, we care about the education of the public, and we felt like model trains are a good way that people can get into it. Seeing the little models allows you to kind of immerse yourself,” Trahan said.
The model railroaders and the museum have a three-year deal to keep this display running here at the Brimstone, and that will include more buildings and homes, and more history.
“We hope that they have fun, that they enjoy it and that they learn something about railroading and southwest Louisiana,” Buckley said.
It all seems to fit, in a museum that’s located in an old southern railways train station, and it’s another reason for children to drag their parents here to get a history lesson.
You can see the model train display at the Brimstone Museum in downtown Sulphur, the model railroad runs every third Saturday of the month. For more information, visit their websites here:
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