Valley Auto's Lionel train layout - 2004
Since about 1980, Valley
Auto Supply on 9th Avenue in Forsyth has had a Lionel train
layout at Christmastime. This continues a tradition started by
my grandfather, Glen Blakesley, who
would have a small train running around the Christmas tree at
his business, Blakesley's Cigar Store. (Blakesley's was located
in the building now occupied by State Farm Insurance.)
After Glen retired, my dad and I had the idea of setting up the same train at Valley Auto.
This led to our getting my model trains out of storage, where
they'd been sitting for at least 15 or 20 years. We filled the
center of the layout with store merchandise.
In 2000, I got married and my
wife, Lynn, encouraged us create a Christmas scene. So we
started collecting buildings, people, and other props, and Lynn
got into the act by arranging all of the new goodies on the
layout. We've continued to add to the collection every year. The train which ran around the
tree at Blakesley's is still in our collection, still runs
perfectly and makes an
occasional appearance on the layout.
layout started in the early 1980s on two sheets of
plywood. At first, we used old Lionel track and antique
train equipment, but after accidentally discovering an
issue of CLASSIC TOY TRAINS magazine, I realized you
could still buy Lionel trains, track and all the various
accessories. So we've added a few pieces to the layout
every year since then.
At first, we stacked
plastic totes under the tabletop to raise it off the
floor, but around 1990, Ray Deering decided we needed a more
stable environment for the trains to run in, and built
a semi-permanent layout -- a nice
solid table, that could be taken apart for
storage once the holidays were over.
semi-permanent layout covered four sheets of plywood at
first. Then we added another half-sheet and ran with
that setup for about 10 years. In 2003, we moved the
layout to its current location across the front of the
store, and we purchased all new track and switches to
accommodate the shape of the new table.
We added this farm scene
in 2004. The layout also contains over 200 trees, a few
of which are visible in this shot.
|We added a
small "industrial" area to the layout this year. The crane is the oldest
item in our collection -- it dates from before World War
This area of
the layout is still in the early stages. We plan to add
more industrial items as time goes on.
view of the industrial area. The mountain in the
background was actually constructed out of five smaller
mountains, and is made out of styrofoam. The red brick
building on the left, as well as the Carquest billboard,
were scratchbuilt by Ray Deering.
We have about 60 freight
cars in our collection, which by train-collector
standards is a tiny amount. (Lionel has produced
thousands of different cars over the years.) The oldest
cars we have are from the late 1950s, and we add a few
new cars to the collection every year. Most of the cars
that run on our store layout are from the last 10 years
downtown area includes a scale model of the Roxy Theatre
which is accurate right down to the chimney on the roof and the
back doors. The service station located
next door to the theatre is a scale model as well (not
visible in this picture), and includes scale-sized
Texaco gas pumps. All of these buildings were
scratchbuilt by Ray Deering.
Contrary to popular
belief, the other buildings are not replicas of actual
Forsyth buildings but they are similar in style to
The engine shown here
is one of our newest Lionel engines, a Northern Pacific 4-8-8-4
Challenger. Engines just like this used to pass through
Forsyth every day.