Unlike most railroad systems though, these tracks, along with the scenery, can be folded up and stored away in time for class.
Shop teacher and model train club adviser Dave Calvert, of North Cape May, has been smitten with replica train sets since he was a child.
He grew up in Altoona, Pa., the railroad capital of the world, and had many family members in the business.
“My father bought me a 1950 American Flyer model train when I was a little kid and I’ve been collecting them ever since,” said Calvert. “Railroading is in my blood.”
The model train club was started at the school eight years ago, after students expressed interest in the hobby.
As the club developed, one layout, that accommodated Calvert’s personal trains, turned into six platforms.
Several other trains, tracks, and scenery pieces were added, thanks in part to donations by students and other model train enthusiasts.
“Most of the supplies that we have were donated by and borrowed from different suppliers like Bachman trains and other collectors,” explained Calvert.
In years past, the model train club has gone on several trips to the Tuckahoe railroad museum and to national historic sites like Steamtown, near Scranton, Pa.
They’ve also taken Cape May Seashore Lines trains into Cape May a few times.
Calvert had always wanted to take club members to train shows, an ambition that didn’t pan out because of the liabilities involved in taking students on Saturdays and Sundays.
Currently, they are helping restore a vintage parlor coach at Cape May Seashore Lines in Tuckahoe.
“We’re making window frames to help restore an old coach. The kids have really been into it,” said Calvert.
The club holds its meetings in the shop room Thursday afternoons after school.
The turnout has always been steady, ranging from about 15 to 20 students, but this will not be the case for long.
Calvert is retiring in a week, after teaching at the school for 20 years.
His departure will mean the last run for the club.
“I asked around, but none of the faculty members was interested in keeping the group going,” said Calvert.
The trains and other equipment will be distributed among the student members for Christmas.
“There are 18 kids who are very active every week and they will all be given a train,” Calvert said.
“The shop room isn’t that big to begin with and I’m sure the next teacher will want to make more room for class materials,” he added.”
An avid fan of the outdoors, Calvert plans to spend a lot of time skiing and camping.
Having just earned his motorcycle license, he will also be working on restoring his Yamaha bike.
“I’m just going to do the things I love and enjoy life,” he said.
Contact Colin at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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