The Green trains are running again.
Five years and five months ago, John Green and his family suffered a loss that is difficult to comprehend, the destruction of their home to fire and the loss of nearly everything in it.
Beyond the usual trappings of family life, the Green’s house was the home to an enormous train set… actually multiple train sets. They represented two decades of John’s work and were his passion. Very little remained after the fire.
A half decade later, the remnants of Green’s passion have risen from the ashes and have become the beginning of a new, and very public, display.
“After the fire I saved a few parts and pieces,” said Green.
With little to start with except a desire to recreate a bit of his model train display for his kids, Green began researching. He came across a relatively new modular railroad system called Free-Mo.
At its heart, Free-Mo involves the constructions of small modules of nearly any size, where the model railroad tracks are spaced by a given standard. The modules can be decorated in any way and can be adorned with cityscapes, landscapes or anything else imaginable. The result is modules that can be connected together easily, and in endless combinations.
Green built two Free-Mo modules from what was left from the fire. Another member of the Central Okanagan Railway Company (CORC) saw them and soon other members of the local model railway club were building FreeMo modules.
“Salmon Arm has a big set up in the mall at Christmas,” said Green, who wondered if it would be possible to set up a model railway in Peachland.
CORC may not be as well known in Peachland as some other groups, but the club’s work is. CORC is the group that built and maintains the sizable model railway on the top floor of the Peachland Museum.
Club member Dave Winter sent a letter to the owners of Peachland Centre Mall and Harvey Weiss gave a thumbs up to the group using a mall location, according to Green.
Free-Mo modules soon showed up at the old location of Coffee Worx, beside Canadian 2 For 1 Pizza. Club members began fitting the modules together and before long, a new model railway was on public display.
Green said many, many people walk by the railroad on the sidewalk, curiously looking through the windows. He wants all those people to know they are welcome to step inside and see what’s going on.
Admission to view the Free-Mo railway is by donation to the Peachland Food Bank and visitors can print their name and phone number on the back of any mall receipt for the chance to win a free turkey, donated by Marketplace IGA.
The club has already gained two new members since opening the mall location, said Green, who added the model railway will be on display past Christmas.
Clubs from all over the interior are helping out at the Peachland location. Green said the Kamloops model railway club was in Peachland last weekend, Merritt members lent a hand Saturday and next weekend will see Kelowna model railway enthusiasts pitching in.
“It’s a small community. We know everybody,” said Green.
Green said the mall location is open every Saturday afternoon to the public, from 12 noon to 4 p.m. He added that club members are often at the mall, fixing, building and creating and if the lights are on, members of the public are welcome to knock on the door for a tour.