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Life on the NTrak

ALCO Open House showcases model trains, future plans

The public was given a sneak peek of the future site for The American Locomotive Heritage Museum in Schenectady, along with some NTrak enthusiasts showing off their trains.

ALCO held an open house on Saturday, July 16, to show off the bare beginning of the museum with a few display pieces and various projection screens set up showing footage of the trains in action. Visitors seemed to gravitate toward the model train display, which was put together by members of NTrak Modular Railroading Society.

Robert Gatland, a 71-year-old from Wilton, stood next to the track making some minor adjustments to find out how to fix a dead spot on his section of track. NTrak consists of smaller portions that can be placed together with little work. The pieces fit together almost like a puzzle and once there are four corners the track is good to go.

If 10 more people had shown up the layout would have been that much better, said Gatland. "You need four corners and anything in between just make it as big as you want."

Gatland's interest in trains has followed him since he was a little boy, he said. How he got into NTrak models though was because he didn't have a suitable basement to have a permanent layout. The smaller size of the NTrak model allowed him to just cover it up when he goes home. For around 30 years, he has been building model train tracks.

"I just didn't have the place to set up a permanent home layout," he said. "The small size makes for good scenery."

Pointing to his section of the track, which is a bridge stretching high above a river, he said it is fairly realistic proportionally. His piece is 2 feet by 8 feet, so he was able to really dive into details and not worry about completing a whole track. It was common for many of the pieces on display to have a high level of detail.

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