Carl Kokes, left, and Lou Scavo prepare for the grand opening of their holiday train exhibit.
Two trains will make their rounds in the Tahawus Lodge Center this holiday season.
The exhibit, which opens Saturday, Dec. 14, will feature two miniature trains running on separate tracks, both chugging past realistic miniature buildings that include a circus tent, wild west town and barn.
The display is the collaboration of local model train enthusiasts Lou Scavo and Carl Kokes.
“I’ve been into model trains for about 15 years now,” Kokes said. “I saw a garden railroad setup in a hobby shop in Florida and I fell in love with it.”
Scavo said he was into model trains when he was in grade school, and became reunited with the hobby about 10 years ago.
Both men agreed that building model train displays is a challenging endeavor.
“I like to work out a track plan that makes sense ,” Scavo said. “It’s trying to fit all of the track into this area in a way that keeps the train going. It’s a little bit of a challenge.”
Kokes said he has learned a lot from doing model trains, too.
“I think one of the most interesting aspects of it is that you learn an awful lot about electricity and wiring,” Kokes said. “You make a lot of mistakes and you blow a lot of fuses, but overall it’s an exciting hobby.”
Kokes added that model trains are a great hobby for the entire family, and both men said their wives add to their model train exhibits by doing the gardening around the tracks.
The trains on display this holiday season are “G” scale, the same size Kokes and Scova use at home. The “G” stands for garden because the trains are fairly large and can withstand the elements, so their tracks are often laid outdoors, in people’s gardens.
Kokes said his own outdoor train has about 800 feet of track and once drew a crowd of 250 people.
The Tahawus Lodge exhibit will be much smaller, but there will still be plenty to see.
Besides all of the minute details, which include hand-painted figures, lights, tiny animals and life-like trees, the pair plan on providing guests with a checklist of various things to see if they can find them.
The goal is to get people to take their time when viewing the men’s work, time they will need if they are to discover all of the subtleties the exhibit has to offer.
The model train exhibit will be on display at the Tahawus Lodge in Au Sable Forks and is free and open to the public. The exhibit opens Friday, Dec. 14 and runs through Saturday, Jan. 5. Hours are 4-7 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday.