Kimmel shows off intricate model train collection to students
WAYLAND — Martin Kimmel showed off his impressive model train collection to Wayland-Cohocton kindergarten students on Tuesday. The children were able to explore Kimmel’s display of model trains and mini villages, all of which has taken him years to build.
Kimmel was inspired to start collecting model trains when he was young. As a child, his father would take him to see the trains nearly every day.
“I was inspired when I was young from watching the trains. They used to come into Wayland four or five times a day,” said Kimmel. His father was the Post Master and would take the mail from the town to the train station to be delivered, and his son tagged along.
Kimmel received his first model train in 1948 from his father. That, perhaps, was the true beginning of what is now on display in the garage of his Wayland home. As a child, his hobbies included building his model train collection and riding the train itself.
“My dad would put me on the train in Bath, on the Phoebe Snow. He put me on that passenger train and I would ride to Dansville and he would drive to Dansville and pick me up,” said Kimmel.
Kimmel describes himself as a collector and an operator of model trains. He did his own electrical work for all of the tracks and decorations in his display, which are all powered by two switches. The collection has only just reached its full glory within the past few years, however.
Kimmel took a substantial break from working with model trains while he worked at Kodak and raised his five children. He didn’t begin to build his display until after retirement. Once the collection grew too large for his house, he built a second level to his garage to construct his creative display in.
The display consists of a Lego village with two separate tracks encompassing it, a Christmas village complete with a National Lampoons Christmas Vacation scene, a Disney castle perched on top of a hill, and another village complete with modern stores such as Taco Bell and Starbucks. The villages hold incredibly vivid detail, from people buying cars at the dealership, to eating a meal at the restaurant.
Kimmel even has a model train store in one of the three villages, which has very small model trains moving inside of it. Everywhere you turn your head, you’ll see something new. Look upwards to see a long cargo train moving along the tracks overhead. With trains circling villages, climbing mountains and suspending from the ceiling, Kimmel has it all.
The intricate display was built primarily in 2012 for a tour that was a part of the Lionel Operating Train Society (LOTS) convention held in Rochester. Kimmel belongs to four national train organizations, the primary one being LOTS. He finished the display for that tour and has added to it every year since. The kindergarten students have come to enjoy his display since then as well, exploring the possibilities of what a creative mind can do.
The children are always very grateful for the experience. They write letters to Mr. Kimmel and his wife, Carol, each year in thanks. Kimmel built the tables of the displays with the children in mind. Each display is short enough so that every child can see everything easily. He specifically had the display tables shortened before constructing the display so that he could accommodate for all visitors.
Kimmel is welcome to have visitors see his display, within reason. If you would like to make an appointment to tour the display, call (585) 728-5129. If you are interested in getting started in the hobby of collecting and building model train displays, you can visit conventions and meet other individuals who partake in the hobby. The next LOTS national convention is in Louisville, Kentucky from July 7-13.