BUENA VISTA - Model trains have long been a hobby that appeals to all ages.
At Patcong Valley Railroad Club, located on Route 40 in the township, a series of open houses that began this month will draw thousands of visitors from all over the region.
Why they come is different for each person.
Some appreciate the meticulous detail in the model railroads and city landscapes, while others relish in the nostalgia of their youth.
"It's really got something for everyone," club vice president John Curl said Sunday during day two of the club's first open house weekend of the 2016-17 holiday season.
The club will reopen the first three weekends in December, then break before launching again Jan. 7 for another three-weekend run.
What visitors can expect are lavish model railroads painstakingly assembled by the club’s members, many of whom spend their free time throughout the year purchasing vintage items with their own money and contributing them to the sets.
A 480-foot, two-track main line cruises through miniature landscapes recalling Western Pennsylvania autumnal mountain ranges.
A total of eight trains can run at the same time, each by a separate engineer, according to Curl.
“The detail is amazing,” Egg Harbor Township resident Barbara McLaughlin said. “It’s wonderful.”
Curl said the older generation appreciates the details, with many remembering the model railroads they themselves had at home growing up.
“I think it takes them back to their childhood,” Curl said. “Trains were much more prevalent when we were younger.”
McLaughlin and her husband, John, agreed.
“We always had a layout under the Christmas tree,” Barbara McLaughlin said.
“Every young man had a platform back in the 1950s,” John McLaughlin said. “It was the thing with Christmas.”
McLaughlin said he also appreciated the details in the miniature landscapes.
“The detail is just unbelievable,” he said. “You remember things you forgot – that’s the way it used to be. It was a nice time to grow up.”
Their granddaughter, 10-year-old Brooke Serbeck, also admired the train sets.
She particularly enjoyed the ‘search and seek’ activity, in which youngsters are sent on a scavenger hunt to find hidden Easter eggs.
“I like how tiny it is,” Serbeck said.
The Patcong Valley Model Railroad Club will be open for its free 32nd annual open house on Dec. 3-4, 10-11 and 17-18. In the new year, the club will be open Jan. 7-8, 14-15 and 21-22.
Daniel J. Kov; (856) 563-5262; firstname.lastname@example.org