5th annual Holiday Display Fleetwood's 1st Freight Station houses model railroad, features American Flyer and Lionel trains

Submitted Model Railroad in Fleetwood.
Submitted Jim Herbein designed Model Railroad. This is the 5th year sharing it with the community in Fleetwood.

Cindy and Jim Herbein, Fleetwood, welcome the public for the fifth year to come see their Model Railroad Holiday Open Freight Station.

“We hope people enjoy taking a trip down memory lane, tracking along the tracks,” writes Cindy.

Open free of charge Saturdays and Sundays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. until Dec. 22 at 105 S. Walnut St., Fleetwood, Santa Claus will be visiting Dec. 21. Parents are encouraged to bring a camera.

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The model railroad layout stays up all year round, but is only open to the public for the holidays.

Jim designed the model railroad layout. When they set it up, it took about two months to paint the room, and set up the buildings, and lay out the more than 200 feet of track.

The American Flyer layout is approximately 20 feet by 20 feet, above it they run Lionel and an LGB layout and above that another Lionel track of the entire size.

“We can run six trains at one time in the main room. There are numerous buildings, miniatures, over 50 including the White House and the Presidents,” writes Cindy to The Patriot.

In the first room is a Lionel suspended from the ceiling. In the last room is an HO layout.

“Every year we try to promote a local business from Fleetwood.”

This year they are featuring two businesses, HO Foose Cookie Cutters, a tin smithing company, and Fleetwood Automotive Supply. Previously they featured East Penn Manufacturing and FM Browns and Sons.

“This year my husband got his Miniature Steam shed up and operating again. It is a replica of a factory of long ago, that all the tools run on steam, using belts and pulleys, including an office. He build it from scratch.”

They are also displayingJim’s grandfather’s tool box and tools from 1901.

“His grandfather built a lot of local businesses and homes in and around Fleetwood, some of which were The Lutheran Home,actually the Orphans home, back then, Fleetwood Bank, Seaman’s garage, the Fleetwood Fire Co., (now the the Social Hall) and many more. We have all the ledgers from back then, with costs of materials and wages.”

They also have on display a large collection of cookie tins, Cindy has more than 500 displayed, as well as a display of old toys, to name a few items.

“We feel this is unique layout because we run not just one scale of trains, we run variety,” said the Herbeins, members of the Fleetwood Historical Society.Cindy has been Secretary for the last two years, her term expires Dec. 31, and Jim has been a member of the board of directors for three years.

But what really makes this a unique model railroad display is that it is housed in a real freight station. The property was a feed mill, lumber and coal yard.

“That is how his love for trains started.”

Jim started his layouts in the 1950s when he was a little boy in the basement.

“He still has his first train he received for Christmas, an American Flyer 314 AW, and it still runs.”

The property used to be AR Hoffman Coal and Lumber Yard, Train Repair,until 2001, when it went out of business, according to Cindy.

“That was my husband’s grandfather, AR Hoffman, so the property has been in his family since 1930s. The building we are showing the trains in is what was the first freight station (not train station) in Fleetwood,” writes Cindy.“If you had any freight coming into or out of Fleetwood, there was a railroad siding here, (we have since removed it). We have the original stencil that was used to mark the freight out of here, and display it, also.”

Living next to the railroad tracks is what inspired his love for trains, writes Cindy.

“When he was little, he was afforded the opportunity to get on the trains, as they stopped here, (remember, a freight station) and the business received rail cars of lumber and coal here.”

His interest in model trains is rooted in the fact that he grew up with them, and received a new model each year for Christmas.

“It was the toy back in the day, and it was a toy you could re-arrange, and run trains for many hours,” writes Cindy.

“His favorite part of sharing is seeing the look in the eyes of the children, when you show them, the different accessories attached to the track, for example, the mail car actually picking up and unloading the mail bags, as it was done on the real rails, years ago.”

When asked about his fondest memories of model railroads, they replied, “He is still playing with trains, and making new memories. He doesn’t have a fondest.”

For more information, call the Herbeins at 610-944-8609.

About the Author

Lisa Mitchell

Lisa Mitchell is the editor of The Kutztown Patriot and Managing Editor of Berks-Mont Newspapers. Reach the author at lmitchell@berksmontnews.com or follow Lisa on Twitter: @kutztownpatriot.