All aboard the Loblolly Train exhibit at the Gregg County Historical Museum

LONGVIEW, TX (KLTV) – If one train isn’t on time, there are several more that will. The Loblolly Train exhibit at the Gregg County Historical Museum in downtown Longview is undergoing its final testing. And this Saturday you’ll hear the first call from everyone on board.

It looks like a TV remote control, but it starts up much more than that.

“All aboard,” said a small conductor in a model train.

Loblolly Train Club members Steve Gatton and Fred Bauer, and a few others, spend about eighty hours bringing the Loblolly train display to the test point, and it operates via a remote control.

“It’s so portable and easy to assemble, isn’t it?” I asked Steve.

“It’s portable. You understood the first part correctly. There were six people involved in setting this up, ”Steve said.

And they all have their specialties.

“The bench work, the tracks, the dioramas, the electricity underneath,” Steve said.

It’s a bit like:

“Don’t touch my reindeer,” I said.

“Alright,” Steve said laughing.

“Sometimes we get little, I call problems,” said Fred.

But they kick in and save the day, which is why it takes them weeks to put everything in place. And then, the big question:

“Have you ever been able to take your train?” I asked Steve.

“No,” he replied.

“Would you like?” I asked.

“Yes,” Steve smirked.

“We’re going to do it,” I said.

So I cut us down a bit and we got into the engine for a ride on the slopes. Okay, this is really the miracle of an action cam.

Fred and Steve say that quite often the older generation shows up without the grandchildren.

“They’re just as interested and sometimes come by themselves, people my age, grandparents, just to remember and see if they can find their automobile,” Steve said.

I found one of my first cars: an MGB, and my dad’s dream car was right in front: a 56 Thunderbird.

Steve wouldn’t say exactly how many more years the exhibit will be assembled at the museum, but:

“It’s the twilight of the years,” Steve said.

In fact, the club needs a space where it could be permanently displayed to the public, according to the seasons. At present it is stored on a trailer in a barn.

So it looks like there are only a few years left to go back in time 60-80 years at the museum to feel like a kid again. You better get on that train now.

The Loblolly train exhibit runs from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Tuesday to Friday, Saturday 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. It opens this Saturday the fourth. Entrance on Saturday is free.

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Patrick F. Williams