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All things locomotive

If it chugs, choos or runs on a track, you'll find it at the 33rd Rogue Valley Railroad Show. Model trains, large-scale steam locomotives and even Thomas the Tank Engine will roll into the Medford Armory for the annual holiday show, to be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 27, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 28, at the Armory, 1701 S. Pacific Highway, Medford.

Whether you're a hobbyist or just want to see what the fuss is about, the show offers model railroad layouts, exhibits, railroad presentations, a swap meet, door prizes, 57 vendors and a raffle for dozens of items from books to a completed model railroad set worth more than $600.

In 2009, more than 5,000 people attended the show.

"Something like the railroad show is as much visual as anything else," says Tony Johnson, president of Southern Oregon Live Steamers Club. "I would guess that 80 percent of the people (attending) only have a mild interest in trains, and I'd say the other 20 percent are modelers or historians.

"You don't need to be an expert to enjoy it."

Local nonprofit groups operate the Medford Railroad Park and host the show. They include: Rogue Valley Model Railroad Club, the Southern Oregon Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society, Southern Oregon Live Steamers, Southwest Oregon Large Scale Trains and the Morse Telegraph Club.

New this year is a replica of the Rev. W. Awdry's fictional character Thomas the Tank Engine, a fussy little engine who has "six small wheels, a short stumpy funnel, a short stumpy boiler and a shorty stumpy dome," as described in the television show "Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends."

The engine and its three passenger cars were built and designed by Dale Butler, vice president of Southern Oregon Live Steamers.

"All the little boys know about Thomas the Train ... so I decided to build one," he said.

The new train and his green friend Percy the Small Engine will ride the rails of the Medford Railway Park when it opens in April for the season. A 900-foot track is being installed at the park, where young children can ride the two engine buddies for free.

Two live steam locomotives and 10 operating model railroad layouts, Z- to O-gauge, also will be at the show. The public can try their hand at operating a train on the "switching puzzle" and HO scale model trains.

The Southern Oregon chapter of the National Railway Historical Society will have a historical exhibit, featuring photographs, railroad artifacts and video footage taken during the Medford Logging Railway operation days, which from ran from 1922 to 1962.

Tickets to the railroad show cost $5, $4 for seniors and free for ages 14 and younger, accompanied by an adult. All proceeds benefit the Medford Railroad Park.

The park, located off Berrydale Avenue, features miniature to full-sized locomotives, an operating outdoor Garden Railway, a working telegraph system, five steam engines, an HO model railroad club, a railroad handcart and, new in April, a railroad museum.

"It's Medford's best-kept secret," says Johnson. "It's the second busiest park in Medford."

The park, open on the second and fourth Sundays of the month from April to October, saw nearly 2,000 people each Sunday in 2010. Admission to the park is free.

"If you love the railroad park and want to support it, you should come to the show because that's how we keep this park going," says Johnson.

For more information, call 541-944-9176.

A model train makes its way through a realistic mountain pass as part of the Rogue Valley Model Railroad Club's layout at the 2009 Railroad Show. - MT file photo