// Tacoma Model Railroad Show and Swap Meet pulls in to Freighthouse Square
Always a fun and entertaining place to visit, Freighthouse Square will be even more so on the weekend of May 19 and 20 when the second annual Tacoma Model Railroad Show and Swap Meet takes place there. Everyone from families looking for something fun to do to seasoned model railroading hobbyists are invited to come and see a variety of model train layouts, watch the trains run, shop the many vendor booths and ask questions about this long-enduring hobby.
Many model railroading clubs from around the state will be at the show along with significantly more vendors than last year’s first time out setting up tables to offer deals and sell railroading hobby items that are not too easy to find just anywhere. The show and swap meet will be spread throughout Freighthouse Square’s three floors, including two very large rooms and various shops.
The event is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for children under 12 and free for kids under 3 years old. A portion of the admission proceeds will go to a local charity and the rest goes back into the Tacoma Northwestern Model Railroad Club, which is hosting the weekend event.
Located among the more than two-dozen retail stores, restaurants, artist shops and business services housed in Freighthouse Square, the club now calls the Square home after being located in various places around town since its founding in 1983 (and incorporating in 1986).
Oscar Peterson is club president. “We have quite a dynamic little club right now,” he said, adding that he and the membership are very happy with their spacious clubhouse in the Square. “Freighthouse Square is really good for us. We can do things there we couldn’t have done at other places, like have a Christmas show where we do a large-scale layout for the season.” The show does a good job of bringing people in to Freighthouse Square, which helps the eclectic mall remain one of Tacoma’s best places. The public is invited to stop by the clubhouse on Tuesday nights from 6:30-8 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to see and learn more about the club’s large, HO-scale DCC layout. Some of the club’s “old hands” have even been known to invite members of the public to try running the trains.
“It gives people a chance to have fun with model railroading if they don’t have enough room at home for a layout,” Peterson said.
Freighthouse Square has its own bit of railroad history, built more than 100 years ago as the westernmost stop for the Milwaukee Railroad. Standing as a Tacoma landmark ever since, the building is three city blocks long and five stories tall, and is a true community hub of artists, foods and entertainment. Twenty-two retail stores and restaurants have opened or remain open at Freighthouse Square, and more have signed lease agreements to open soon.
Chip Van Gilder joined the club about three years ago. An accomplished professional fine art photographer, he said that years ago he gave up model railroading in favor of his camera, but once his photography became a successful business he needed a hobby and so went back to model railroading.
Van Gilder said being in the club gives him the chance to meet others who are into the hobby and to develop his model railroading skills and knowledge – plus, it’s good for the soul. He said of his at-home train room, “I can go in there and escape anything.” The hobby also gives him something to enjoy with his little grandsons.
Van Gilder will bring his photography expertise to the show and swap meet so that serious railroading hobbyists who enjoy photographing their layouts can get answers to their questions and tips on how to make their photos even better. He will hold two meet-ups, one Saturday and one Sunday at 2 p.m. Saturday will be for questions and for brainstorming on how to bring photography more into the club. Sunday will be focused on 10 steps to creating a good photograph and his experience with Photoshop to increase the quality.
To learn more about the Tacoma Northwest Model Railroad Club, visit http://www.tnwmrr.org or e-mail email@example.com. Freighthouse Square is located at 2501 E. ‘D’ St. Parking is available just across the street at the Tacoma Dome parking garage. Generally free parking for three-hour increments is available on the main level. Parking for longer than three hours can be found in the other areas of this large garage.
Letter to the Editor
If you would like to contact us directly, please submit a Letter to the Editor here.