Magazine article Sunset

Make Tracks for Utah: Ogden's Union Station Hosts One of the Best Model Train Shows in the West

Magazine article Sunset

Make Tracks for Utah: Ogden's Union Station Hosts One of the Best Model Train Shows in the West

Article excerpt

Take off his striped engineer's hat and Dan Thornton, who stands 6 feet, 8 inches tall, is still a big man. Even so, Thornton appears positively petite standing in front of Big Blow, the most powerful locomotive ever built.

Designed to pull heavy trains up high mountain grades, this monster - now part of the Ogden Union Station museum's permanent collection - was powered by a jet turbine. At full throttle it could muster the muscle of 10,000 horses and ran so hot that birds flying over its smokestack reportedly fell to the ground cooked.

But Thornton is more interested in the contents of his briefcase. He carefully removes a tiny glinting metal object no bigger than a thimble. "This," he says, examining it as a jeweler would a diamond, "is the smallest scale locomotive in the world."

To prove it, he runs the Z-scale train on its rails, also in the briefcase - the track's diameter is only a little larger than the headlight on Big Blow.

Perspective is what it's all about at the Hostler Model Railroad Festival. The annual event fills Union Station - once the West's most important rail hub - with puffing and tooting model trains. Along with permanent exhibits in the station museum, including a model railroad, vintage cars, and a Browning firearms collection, this year's show will coincide with a visit by the Smithsonian Institution's Artrain, which is transporting Art in Celebration! …

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