Chugging along to Christmas

Published 8:06 am Monday, November 15, 2010

Five year old Maddelyn Boysen watches with excitement as trains pass each other out at Oak Park Mall Saturday. --Eric Johnson/

One display at Saturday’s flea market came complete with all the bells and whistles.

Charles Skjeveland and Homer Hickok displayed their model Lionel Train sets during Oak Park Mall’s craft and flea market, an attraction that drew the attentive eyes of many old and young shoppers.

Though train collecting is often a year-round past time, the hobby is commonly associated with Christmas, which made the display a good fit for the mall’s holiday farmers’ market.

Email newsletter signup

Hickok said he enjoys seeing the young people’s eyes light up when they come to see the trains.

Skjeveland has trains that date back to the 1930s, and he said some of the engines are worth up to $700. But he cautioned new collectors can get started for far cheaper.

“What is it they say? The difference between men and boys is the price of their toys,” Skjeveland said.

One of Hickok’s engines is a Lionel replica of the engine at the Mower County Historical Society. The model engine has replica whistles and even emits smoke.

“We’re putting out the top of the line (trains),” Skjeveland said.

Hickok’s 12-year-old grandson, Noelan, was there to help show onlookers how the trains worked.

“It’s so much fun when me and my grandpa play with trains,” he said.

Skjeveland collected model trains as a boy, and then got back into the hobby in his 30s. He said the average age of train collectors is about 58, since it’s an ideal hobby for some men once their children are out of the house.

Skjeveland, who recently moved to Austin, is currently working on setting up a train room in his home.