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PA State museums to sell off railroad ephemera

State museums to sell off bits of history


HUMMELSTOWN, Pa. - Piled high in a cinder-block auction house near Harrisburg are castaway pieces of history from Pennsylvania's state museums.

Then there are the model trains - some handmade to scale - and real railroad memorabilia that are generating regional interest, said Jay Ziegler, owner of the auction house: Box after box of American Flyer trains, tracks, transformers, and miniature accessories for model railroad layouts, and a mysterious oversize model of a truss bridge.

There are plenty of railroad ephemera: miniature soaps, matchbooks, and equipment plates, brochures announcing the first Metroliners circa 1975, a handful of 1980s-era SEPTA signs, and train schedules for long-gone lines, including one for the Reading Co. noting a regular stop at the George School.

Railroad historians say rail-related collectibles have long been popular, particularly in Pennsylvania.

"Pennsylvania is a railroad state in every sense of the word," said Maryland-based railroad historian John Hankey. "Even if people are not riding trains anymore, they are still connected to them."

Miller said that before sending artifacts to auction, the state tries to keep them in the public domain by placing them with other museums in Pennsylvania. About 500 items went to other museums. The state also tries to contact the last-known family members of donors.

"We tried to find the stone wagon a home in the Lehigh Valley, but in this shrinking economy could not," she said.

Miller says items that leave the state collection undergo a committee's review before heading to auction.

Some objects are removed because they have lost their provenance, Miller said, holding up a white-linen christening dress that came from an unknown general store.

"The history is lost," she said. "Now it's just one of many christening dresses."

There may be no Antiques Roadshow-worthy moments tomorrow, but for people with a passion for the past, the auction presents an opportunity to bring a piece of history into their homes, curators say.

"There's a lot of power in objects, particularly those that were handmade and used by real people," said Jim Lewars, administrator of the Landis Valley Museum in Lancaster, which turned over about 300 items for sale. "You don't have to be a diehard to have a connection."


If You Go

The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission auction will begin at 9 a.m. tomorrow at Ziegler Auction Co., 1550 Sand Hill Rd., Hummelstown, Pa. Doors will open at 7 a.m. for a preview of items.

For directions and information, including the catalog, visit www.zieglerauction.com. Telephone: 717-533-4267.


Western North Carolina 20th Annual Model Train Show

Model train show set for today and Saturday at WNC Ag Center

Re: Published: March 5, 2010

Today and Saturday, model railroad enthusiasts will get together in Fletcher for the 20th Annual Model Train Show. And a McDowell County business is one of the sponsors for this year's event.
The train show, sponsored by the WNC Model Railroaders, will be held at the Western North Carolina Ag Center in Fletcher. The event will be held today from noon to 7 p.m. It will continue on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission will be $5 for adults. Children 13 and younger will be admitted free with an adult.
Based in Asheville, the WNC Model Railroaders is a non-profit club devoted to the hobby of model railroading and train-related interests. Club members come from throughout western North Carolina. The club has held the annual train show at different places in the Asheville area but is returning this year to the Ag Center. This means plenty of free parking for attendees and vendors alike, said organizers.
Old Fort Model Trains, located at 37 E. Main St., is helping to sponsor this year's train show.
The train show will feature three or more working model railroad layouts in both HO and N scales. These detailed layouts include numerous trains, towns, mountains, tunnels and bridges. Model railroad enthusiasts and collectors will be there to demonstrate their equipment and answer questions.
More than $3,000 worth in raffle prizes will be given away too.
Dealers from throughout the Southeast will be there with a wide assortment of model locomotives, rolling stock, buildings and scenery for layouts. More than 100 tables will be set up at the event. Dealers will sell books, posters and videos about trains. Some of these will feature the trains and railroad landmarks of western North Carolina and McDowell County. You can expect to find books, videos and old photographs of Andrews Geyser, the tunnels and loops at Altapass and the Marion and Old Fort depots. Dealers will also have engineer caps, whistles and toys for the youngsters.
In addition, some actual railroad equipment will be on display including Fairmont speeders. These are maintenance-of-way motorized vehicles formerly used on railroads by track inspectors and work crews to move quickly to and from work sites. Some vintage speeders that have been restored will be on exhibit at the train show.
To get to the Ag Center, take Interstate 40 west to Interstate 26. You will get off I-26 at Exit 40 and follow the signs. Enter at Gate No. 5 for free parking.

For more information about the train show, contact Fred Coleman by calling (828) 699-0983 or by emailing fred_coleman@bellsouth.net.

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