Hundreds of railroad modelers and rail fans are readying to converge on Jim Thorpe's Memorial Hall, E. 10th Street, for the first combined Fall Train Meet & Railroad Film Night. In past years, the events were scheduled on different days and in different locations. This year, it's a one-stop railroad hobbyist's dream come true.
The Sunday, Nov. 1 event begins at 9 a.m. with the Carbon Model Railroad Society's Fifth Annual Fall Train Meet. The swap meet of model and toy trains, books and railroadiana, operating layouts, and historical materials will run until 3 p.m.
At 5 p.m., Pete Terp of Pufferbellys Railroad Gifts returns with his Railroad Film Night for its fall semiannual presentation. This season's slideshow is “Looking at Carbon County and the Gorge then and now," with Paul Carpenito.
Carpenito is a longtime rail fan and has amassed a collection of 220,000 slides of railroading around the U.S., Canada and Mexico. He is president of the Phillipsburg Railroad Historians, Inc., an organization that Terp helped found in 1990. He took over as president in 1997.
Although he thinks that his father being with Lionel may have interested him in railroading, he credits his first excitement about trains to his sister.
"My sister used to wheel me around in a baby carriage up along the Lackawanna Railroad in the Oranges of New Jersey. That's when I probably got started in railroading," said Carpenito.
"I've always liked trains. I started taking photos of them as early as 11 years old," he said. “I got serious about photography in 1967 when I got my first 35 mm camera. I haven't stopped since."
Carpenito plans to fill over two hours with between 300 and 350 slides from his collection slides from the 1960s to the present of trains from Palmerton to Jim Thorpe and the Lehigh Gorge.
Before the Lehigh Gorge became a state park and the bike trail was built, Carpenito and a friend would hike nine miles into the gorge and another nine miles back to capture the photos for his collection.
"Trains are great to look at in the nitty-gritty of the city," he explained, “but I particularly appreciate how the color schemes of the locomotives blend in with the landscape.
"I've always been a great fan of early morning fog. I sometimes go there at the crack of dawn and make my way up the gorge with a thermos bottle of coffee attached to the handle bars of my bike. I just enjoy being up there. I love the wildlife. I've run into many wild animals in my travels," he adds. “It's all part of the package."
The Train Meet, hosted by the Carbon Model Railroad Society, has been in operation in the spring for the past 15 years in Palmerton, and in the fall for the past five years.
"It's almost like a social for train modelers," explained Gary Mack, president of the CMRS. “People return every year to meet one another and see what they have to sell."
The Carbon Model Railroad Society will have two train layouts in operation.
The Fall Train Meet is from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. An admission is charged. The Railroad Film Night runs from 5-7:30 p.m. and admission is free.