JOHNSON CITY — After a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19, the Big Train Show is returning to ETSU’s Ballad Health Athletic Center on Friday, June 3, and Saturday, June 4.
According to Dr. Fred Alsop, director of the George L. Carter Railroad Museum, the Big Train Show was originally started as a public outreach program for the museum.
Alsop said, “It’s a fundraising program, but it also gives us the opportunity to involve a lot of different folks in the region in the hobby of model railroading.”
The Big Train Show is a great event for train enthusiasts and local history lovers alike. This year it will feature around 300 tables displaying five impressive model railroad layouts, memorabilia from the height of the railroading eras and numerous railroad artifacts.
Tables will also provide space for over 50 vendors who will be selling books, apparel, “prototype artifacts” and model train supplies such as trains, tracks, scenery and buildings. Guests with a keen eye may even find such items in rare condition or at a discounted rate.
For model train aficionados, this is a great opportunity to find a large selection of items and information related to the hobby and to interact with others who share the same interests. This event is especially significant because it will be bringing in vendors from all across the eastern United States.
This event will be a great resource for those interested in local history as well. Roger Teinert, the show’s chairman, explained that Johnson City is a big name in railroad discussions as it has had several railroad lines that have passed through it throughout the years. According to Teinert, even the city’s name harkens back to when it was just a stop where trains could refill their water at Johnson’s Tank.
Even a stranger to model railroads can have a good time at the event as it will hold space for unique and interesting models of all scales and from all eras of railroading, going back to the 1860s. Among the model trains on display will be one that incorporates the use of live steam power rather than electricity. Another exciting display will be a model replica of one of Clinchfield’s largest steam engines, “the Challenger.”
Food vendors will also be present and selling lunch items such as burgers, hot dogs, chips and drinks.
“It’s a great place to socialize and look around, even if you don’t buy anything,” said Alsop.
The Big Train Show will run on Friday, June 3, from noon until 6 p.m. and Saturday, June 4, from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Entry is free for children under 12, but the entrance fee for all other guests is $6 per person. Proceeds from admissions will go toward assisting the Carter Railroad Museum with operations and expenses. Free parking is available in the parking garage and lots adjacent to the Ballad Health Athletic Center.
The George L. Carter Railroad Museum, which is located on ETSU’s campus, will also be open during the show’s hours, and visitors are encouraged to go down the road and enjoy the many wonderful exhibits on display there.
For more information on the Big Train Show, contact Teinert at (423) 791-4937.