In November 2022, I started an article series to promote local artists and crafters. This article features Junction City artist Gail Dye and the model train layout that she and her late husband Jerry Dye diligently crafted over several years. Read on below to discover in the artist's own words what it takes to create a large layout. The video below highlights some of the many elements that have been included in "Dye's Station."
A Renewed Interest for Young and Old
Model railroading is still a popular pastime. With the abundance of available time on their hands during the pandemic quarantine, both young and old alike found themselves looking for a new interest, and guess what came rolling in like a steam engine - model railroading.
Although the Dye's interest in model railroading began long before the pandemic, as you'll learn shortly, a renewed interest has sparked for the long-time hobby. According to Gordy Robinson, president of the National Model Railroad Association in a Saturday Evening Post article from October 19, 2022:
"Since the pandemic began, participation in the NMRA’s Master Model Railroader program — an elite training course for the most dedicated hobbyists — has exploded."
Read on to learn from Gail Dye what it took to create the model train layout in their home basement.
In the Artist's Own Words
The following was written by Gail Dye for this blog post.
About 7 years ago my husband Jerry and I decided to make a model train layout. He had started his Lionel train collection when he was a 10th grader and he never had them on a layout. We kept all his trains in boxes for approximately 50 years and never felt as if we had the time or room to set them up in a layout. They are the large O scale size that take up a lot of room.
We finally decided, after Jerry was semi-retired, that we needed to do something with them. So, Jerry and our son began building a table that is 8’ X 18’ and we set it up in a room in our basement. Then it was up to me to begin the landscaping. So, I put my artistic abilities to work. I did a lot of research on the internet getting ideas. I built all the buildings except for the train depot. It took several years for it to be completed. The layout kind of tells the story of our life. It has our house, Jerry’s mechanic shop, our church and a cemetery, my upholstery shop, the grain elevators and office from down on Perry Street, a playground park, a garden, a barn and shed similar to one where Jerry grew up and it is also similar to one where we lived for 8 years, and Stacy’s restaurant where Jerry ate lunch every weekday for 40 years. The Junction City water tower stands in the middle of the table. There is a tunnel, a lake and a pond with fishermen.
Meant for Visitors
Our plan was to complete the layout and then invite people to come see it, especially people with children. Just as we got it finished, Covid happened, so we didn’t get to do that. Then, Jerry passed away in 2021.
Recently I contacted people I know from Lincoln Elementary school to see if they could bring some children on a field trip to see the trains. So, the student council got to come see it. It was really fun to see their reactions to it all. Sharing it with others is what makes it fun. It is very detailed, so to make them look for all the details we played a scavenger hunt. They had a list of items that they had to search for on the layout and see who could complete their list the fastest.
Recycle and Reuse!
The landscaping is built with all sorts of things such as a small cardboard box, a pringles can, an oatmeal container, corrugated cardboard, sedum plants for trees, center rolls from newspaper print, chicken wire, sand paper, cereal boxes, plumbers end caps, a lid from a cool whip container, a plastic straw, and many other things. It was so much fun to see what could be made from everyday items.
A Lifelong Flair for Artistic Things
I have always had a flair for artistic things such as crafts of all sorts, and then doing upholstery. I had always wanted to try my hand at painting pictures but never felt I had the time or talent. But about 4 years ago I got the opportunity to take some lessons in oil painting. I absolutely love it. I began with landscape scenery, then I painted dogs and barns and flowers and a few people. I recently began trying to learn acrylic paintings and am currently teaching a class once a month at the Senior Center. We do simple paintings for beginners. I am enjoying using my artistic abilities. It gives me a real sense of accomplishment and joy.
The paintings below are only a few of the many created by Gail Dye. A regular in the Junction City Arts Council's Art Walks, her work is frequently available for viewing.
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Thanks for your continued support of the arts and our organization.
Sherry Frewerd - JCAC Director