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Friday, November 23, 2012

Charity Chug's toy trains again will pull into SML

The Smith Mountain Lake Model Railroad Group's 5th-Annual Charity Chug on Dec. 8-9 is an opportunity for the model-train curious to visit some of the lake-area's most exquisite model-train displays.

Six layouts will be open on Saturday from 1-5 p.m., and five layouts - including two not open on Saturday - will be open again on Sunday at the same time.

"We get parents with their children, groups of Scouts, neighbors who bring neighbors, three-generation groups - you name it, everyone seems to enjoy watching model trains rumble through miniature mountains, towns and tunnels this time of year," said event organizer Dave Phelps.

Visitors are encouraged to make donations as they make the rounds from layout to layout proceeds from the tour will benefit Lake Christian Ministries.

Hans and Pat Weidig, who are hoping the mild weather holds, are adding last-minute touches to their outdoor display of G-scale trains that run through meticulous miniature landscapes at the base of their backyard patio.

"But we always have hot cider available, and visitors enjoy seeing a back-yard layout regardless of the temperature," Pat Weidig said.

Les Kuhn, who a couple of years back sold much of his extensive garage-based O-gauge display, decided he had to get back into model railroading. His new HO-scale layout will make its Charity Chug debut on Dec. 9.

This will be Tom Huhn's second time to open the display at his home in Goodview. It features five O-gauge locomotives that traverse Roanoke-based scenery. Since last year, he's broken through a wall and is expanding into a second room that will feature Bedford County landscapes.

"It's all about the kids," Huhn said, recalling his first experience as a Charity Chug host.

"I love watching their expressions as they pick out things on the layout that tickle their fancy. And knowing that we'll be helping other area kids through the contribution to LCM ... it's an honor to use my hobby in this way," said Huhn.

For directions to the homes and descriptions of the layouts, visit www.lcm-moneta.org. For more information, call Hale at 721-7222 or 420-0900, or Phelps at 721-1334.