INDIANA BIG TRAIN ENGINEERS; THEN TO NOW!
November 18, 2009
Following the 1989 LGB Convention held in Indianapolis, the group of people who worked so hard on making the convention a huge success, did not want to quit. The convention received publicity through national and local media and people were interested in large scale trains. To share our interests and learn more about the hobby, the original group met informally a couple of times to compare notes and determine the how of having fun with trains. Jim and Dave Watts, Watts Train Shop, gave us a place to meet and discover the how to make things happen. I "volunteered" to keep the group posted on events.
It was decided, that since we were having so much fun, that we would call ourselves The Big Train Engineers following the model of the LGB Model Railroad Clubs The Big Train Operators. The club was founded to have fun with trains and to enjoy the camaraderie of interested folks. As folks heard about our club, they joined our group to talk about their latest project, present new ideas and to tell about the G Scale items they had found. One of the clubs earliest projects in 1991 was the running of a layout at Orchard in Bloom. With the help of Joe Baker and Jim Watts, the display was well received and brought in many interested folks. To keep the group posted, I began mailing a letter to interested folks about every three months telling about new items, projects and scheduled events.
The club purchased track for two large ovals along with transformers so that a simple running layout could be set up on the floor or on tables. We were soon asked to set up and show off our trains at nursing homes, other activities and in 1993, the club had a large display at Conner Prairie on a Saturday afternoon for a childrens day. This led to a loop of track around the famous Ginger Bread House display at Conner Prairie during Christmas time. Requests for more displays and as more folks heard of our fun with trains, it became apparent that some structure was needed. Linda Smith volunteered to Secretary the club and to put the newsletter into shape; Phyllis Shirey remained as treasurer, a hold over from the convention.
Our fun with trains became known! More people came forward to help and share ideas. Projects at Riley Hospital, Methodist Hospital, Indiana State Museum, Childrens Museum, Orchard in Bloom, Great American Train Show, Conner Prairie and others soon outgrew the scope of the original core of folks. We needed more organization! Dave Graff stepped forward and assisted the club with drafting bylaws for an election of officers and other administrative matters. As the group grew, new ideas and interests were introduced and many new directions were tried while never losing sight of having fun with trains.
Visits to peoples layouts, both indoors and outside, became an interesting way to meet and discuss new ideas. Visits expanded beyond meetings at Watts and have recently included bus trips to neighboring cities having extensive layouts. One of the very first meetings was a dinner meeting in 1989 following the convention and it seemed like a good idea to have a similar meeting at least once a year. Thus, the dinner meeting concept has continued and after a couple of meetings at the NoblesvilleTrain Museum to assist in putting together an outdoor layout at the Museum, which usually included a bring your own picnic basket, we sometimes have a similar picnic while visiting outdoor layouts during the summer. At about the same time, we decided to meet at Watts once a year to learn about all the new items. This became the annual Christmas meeting at Watts.
The original thoughts of the group, to have fun with large scale trains through the friendship of those sharing the same interests, continue today. The club has grown and the interests have expanded into many directions. In April, 1995, by-laws were drafted and approved that defined the duties of officers and elections. The Indiana Big Train Engineers club, through its projects and nationally acclaimed newsletter, has grown to meet the expectations of its members in all aspects of the hobby. Many folks have stepped forward to assist the club over the years. With the help of the club presidents since 1989: Dave Lynn, Dave Graff, Jim Lee, Paul Bossert, Paul George, Jack Pittsley, Randy Banks, Andy Chester, Mike Smith, David Palmeter, Jacquie Banks and James Driesbach; the club has come along way from the LGB Convention at the Holiday Inn North.