AUGUSTA — Puffs of white smoke streamed from the black engine as the train rounded the corner on the outer rail. Another engine chugged along an interior track. Across the lobby of the Maine State Cultural Building, other G-, HO-, O- and N-gauge engines and a very small Z-gauge model engine ran along ovals of tracks.

All the activity was part of the two-day Maine State Museum annual Model Railroad Celebration, which ended Saturday.

The display proved particularly popular with 2-year-old boys, two of whom carried their own Thomas the Tank engines.

Taj Hassouna, of Augusta, carefully placed James, his red engine, and Thomas, the blue engine, up on the train display even as the electric trains rolled around and around, passing again and again in front of buildings whose signs said “Empty Box Co.” and “Slick Wholesale Tractor Sales.”

Did he like trains? “Yeah, yeah, yeah,” he said without taking his eyes from the fascinating display.

His mother, Cassandra Generlette Hassouna, elaborated.

“He loves trains. He’s obsessed with them. He goes to bed with a train and if it falls out of his hand, he wakes up and cries. We’re waiting till he gets a little older to see if he’s responsible enough to have an electric train, because it’s not cheap.”

Another 2-year-old railroad buff, Lucas Garofalo, brought the silver-striped red Caitlin, of Thomas the Tank engine fame, which had its light on and wheels turning.

His father, Craig Garofalo, of Manchester, said Lucas had spent a couple of hours on Friday in front of a model railroad display at the Maine Mall in South Portland.

At the museum entrance Saturday, Jay Cainan, of the Great Falls Model Railroad Club, said it takes about an hour to get the whole display up and running.

The Maine 3-Railers and the Great Falls Model Railroad Club provided displays and conductors to explain the workings of the model railways.

“Z is as small as you can get that you can still see,” said Bryce Weeks, a student at West Gardiner Middle School and a five-year member of the Great Falls Model Railroad Club. He said the model railroaders had few derailments because of the rail joiner connections under the track.

Weeks staffed a display along with John Robertson, another model railroader who was also representing the Maine State Museum.

When the modular displays and their engines were all put to bed Saturday, the railroad aficionados had several more events to look forward to, including travel on real trains.

A Candy Cane Train will make four daily round trips from the Bath train station to Wiscasset on Dec. 13 and 14. Tickets for the ride with Santa Claus and his elves cost $18 apiece and can be purchased through www.CandyCaneTrain.org. All proceeds benefit the nonprofit Tri-County Literacy.

The Wiscasset, Waterville & Farmington Railway Museum is offering Victorian Christmas on Dec. 20 with free steam and diesel train rides 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and sleigh rides. Donations are accepted. Robertson said there will be several enclosed passenger cars and an open car along with an engine and caboose for the short ride between Sheepscot Station, 97 Cross Road, Alna, and Alna Center. More information is available at www.wwfry.org.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams


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