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All aboard the Loblolly Train exhibit at the Gregg County Historical Museum

LONGVIEW, Texas (KLTV) – If one train isn’t on time, there are many more that will. The Loblolly Train exhibit at the Gregg County Historical Museum in downtown Longview is going through its final trials. And this Saturday you will hear the first call for all aboard.

It looks like a TV remote, but it starts much more than that.

“All aboard,” said a little conductor in a miniature train.

Loblolly train club members Steve Gatton and Fred Bauer, and a few others, spend about eighty hours bringing the Loblolly train display to the test point, and it operates via remote control.

“It’s so portable and easy to assemble, isn’t it?” I asked Steve.

“It’s portable. You understood the first part correctly. There were six people involved in setting this up,” Steve said.

And they all have their specialties.

“The bench work, the tracks, the dioramas, the electricity underneath,” Steve said.

It’s a bit like:

“Don’t touch my reindeer,” I said.

“Good,” laughed Steve.

“Sometimes we get little, I call glitches,” Fred said.

But they spring into action and save the day, which is why they take weeks to set everything up. And then the big question:

“Have you ever been able to get on your train?” I asked Steve.

“No,” he answered.

“Would you like to?” I asked.

“Yeah,” Steve smiled.

“We’ll do it,” I said.

So, I narrowed us down a bit and climbed inside the engine for a ride on the trails. Agree, this is truly the miracle of an action camera.

Fred and Steve say quite often that the older generation shows up without the grandkids.

“They’re just as interested and sometimes come alone, people my age, grandparents, just to reminisce and see if they can find their automobile,” Steve said.

I found one of my first cars: an MGB, and my father’s dream car was just across the tracks: a 56 Thunderbird.

Steve wouldn’t say precisely how many more years the exhibit will be assembled at the museum, but:

“We’re in the twilight years,” Steve said.

In fact, the club needs a space where it could be permanently displayed to the public, with changing seasons. Currently it is stored on a trailer in a barn.

So it seems like there are only a few years left to step back in time 60-80 years at the museum to feel like a kid again. You better get on that train now.

The Loblolly Train exhibition runs from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. It opens this Saturday the fourth. Admission on Saturday is free.

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