Saturday, July 27, 2019

Railroad scale model a big hit at Midway Heritage Day

People attending Midway Heritage Day on Saturday pretty much knew what the big steam engine would look like, but not necessarily what to expect from the old scale model of Midway, recently restored, with double tracks and trains. It was a pleasant, fascinating surprise, the culmination of a community project that reflected the spirit and heritage of Kentucky's first and still iconic railroad town.

The layout was done in the early 1980s by Laurine and William Grant, who donated it to the city in 2001. A few months ago, Midway Renaissance and several community volunteers joined forces to put it back in shape, and it went on display in the old bank building on East Main Street owned by Amy and Mike Stinnett, who erected a temporary partition to facilitate the display.

View is from north. Card on control box lists volunteers (left column) and sponsors (right column, with in-kind contributions)
Those who played key roles in the restoration included Tommy and Susan Kidwell, who provided the layout benchwork and material that formed the base of the project; and Jim Hoppin, who did the custom modeling of three additions to the layout: Midway Christian Church, the mansion at Parrish Hill Farm and the Kentucky Female Orphan School, now Midway University.

View from northwest shows Parrish Hill, added, in foreground.
"We've been working on it probably since the first of February," said Hoppin, whose experience with dollhouses made him the builder of the three additions. His wife Teresa also worked on the project.

Others listed on the display's volunteer-and-sponsor card were Tom Bensberg (engines), Thomas Bookout (details and supplies), Ron Chesser, Joel Damron, Charles Diamond, Midway Christian Church, Midway Renaissance, Steve and Julie Morgan, National Model Railroad Association Division 10, Bill Penn, Amy Perry, Christy Reaves, Brian Roslowski, Kenny Smith (photographic enhancements), Frank Stevenson (buildings and supplies) and Stew Winstanley (engines and rolling stock).
Model maker Laurine Grant, with hand on chin, watched the trains run from the far end
of the model with her daughter, Jeanine Lister of Winchester. (Photos by Al Cross)

Laurine Grant, who now lives in Winchester, said in an interview that her late husband was an N-scale (9 mm track width) railroad modeler, and they decided to build a model of Midway because one of their daughters lived in the town. They lived in Connecticut at the time but later moved to West Higgins Street in Midway.

Grant said the project took about two years, done in bits and pieces, starting with photographs of buildings when they were in town to visit their daughter. "If you are a model train person or a train person, Midway was the ideal place to model," she said.

Jim Hoppin
The model was the usual 4x8-foot module used in N-scale shows, in which modules are arranged in an oval and are connected by tracks over which trains run through them. The first step in restoring it was to make it an independent display, with its own trains.

That required a whole new base, which the Kidwells provided "Without them, we would have never had it," said Reaves, who is a model railroader and calls herself "the Midway train lady." The new layout had extra room, so the volunteers decided to add the three buildings Hoppin built.

Grant said, "I thought it was wonderful. They did a very good job. . . . It's tremendous. I was very impressed and very honored."
View from the west, with history of the railroad, which was established in 1833 and reached Midway in 1835.

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