COVINGTON TWP. – One of the sights at the Moffat Estate Christmas party was reminiscent of a nearly bygone era. It was small but mighty, running around an oval shaped track by compressing great amounts of water pressure into steam.
That was the steam-powered train set owned by Bob Howells.
He's brought the train to the Christmas event for the past five years.
“I'm happy to do it,” said Howells. “I think it's a good thing to promote the hobby and the interest in kids for model railroading.”
Many interested onlookers joined Howells in the garage to see the train zoom around the tracks, but those with the best experience were the Boy Scouts.
Jack Umbaugh, Joe Hitchcock and Jack Purcell were there to assist Mr. Howells and learn a thing or two about engines.
“It's very cool to have a one-on-one experience of how to work on a steam engine,” said Jack Purcell. “It's like, how many people can say they did that?”
Howells showed the Scouts step by step how to pump the water in the engine, pop open a front hatch a light a butane-fueled flame that would create the steam.
With a little guidance here and there, Howells was able to let the boys run the show. Soon enough, they were teaching visiting kids all about the train.
“It's a great opportunity to sit down with these kids and teach them how to operate [the train],”said Howells, “and these kids are doing it.”
The 2-6-0 engine is a reproduction of a real train engine.
These boys were learning real practical skills and it wasn't just Boy Scouts benefiting from the hands-on education.
Miles Roberts was there with his Boy Scout friends to enjoy the trains, and also share some of his own knowledge.
Roberts is an avid train collector, who has a Pennsylvania Flyer, a Lionel HO Scale no longer in production and a mysterious old Lionel train he brought with him.
Jordan Williams was one young visitor who was entranced by the steam train, following it around the track and watching the Boy Scouts prep the train for its next run.
Howells is next looking forward to a special event during Presidents Weekend at the Electric City Trolley Museum in Scranton where avid train collectors like Howells get together to show off their stuff. Until then, they are busy with Trolley Rides with Santa.
Anyone interested in Electric City Trolley Museum events should look to their website or Facebook page.