Thursday, December 20, 2012

Trains & Boom Towns

Kay Williams sets up his model town
In 1871 when the trains came to Rossville, Illinois, Isaac was among the group of citizens that opposed the arrival of the railroad to their community.  (See my blog of Jan. 20, 2012) At that time he was a prosperous druggist, dreading the arrival of competing businesses and the riff-raff that the construction and eventual completion of rail lines would bring to his town.
In 1886 when the rail lines approached the Stafford County seat of St. John, Isaac's attitude had changed.  Now, he was a farmer with produce to ship, as well as a customer for the merchandise that would be available from the new businesses the railroad would bring to town.
Williams' coach & trailer
On April 19, 1886, Isaac's journal entry expressed his interest in the progress as the railroad lines moved westward:  "Noticed this morning on the streets in St. John a R.R. grading outfit of some 1/2 doz. Wagons, some 12 spans of horses & several 2 wheel scrapers, all loaded on road towards Larned or beyond to do R.R. grading all completely equipped with men, necessary shelter, tools, etc. quite a procession.  At Grading of Hutchinson branch just W. of St. John & on Eastward [sic].  Macksville to rush generally now seeming every body wanting to get to Macksville & Casody, nearly a hundred new buildings put up there now this spring in anticipation of new R.R. every body wild." 

Model town in foreground; Buckhorn entry in background
Recently, I experienced my own eager anticipation as rail lines were laid and a town began to sprout along the tracks.  For the past seven or eight years a gentleman named Kay Williams has arrived at Buckhorn RV Resort in his motor coach, towing a trailer painted to match the coach, filled with the materials for a railroad boom town of his own.  He needs no scrapers or grading equipment, for he lays his tracks on the lawn beneath a magnificent live oak tree.  Like those early railroaders laying tracks across the plains who brought their own tools, Mr. Williams brings his tools in his fancy trailer, and after setting up his motor coach for his stay in the park, he becomes a 1-man railroad crew. 
Mr. Williams' boom town
I didn't ask him when he got his first model train set, but because many little boys ask Santa to bring them their first model train, I thought sharing Kay Williams's Christmas display on my blog would be an appropriate Christmas post.  This was our third opportunity to see his display, and each year he has added more buildings to his town.  He patiently answers questions and welcomes photographs of his model railroad town as fellow RVers stroll past his site.
This year his town was on display for about a week, but he was eager to start back home.  He was restoring a 1948 Ford automobile for a lady who wanted it done by Christmas as a gift to her husband--the restoration of their courtship car from back when they were young.  As Mr. Williams shared the story of restoring an object of romantic memory to a couple now in their golden years, he had such a twinkle in his eyes, obviously taking delight in the pleasure his craft would bring to them.  Standing there before me, with the model trains and town behind him, I could almost imagine Santa in his work denims putting the final touches on the model trains he would deliver to children on Christmas Eve.  Perhaps Kay Williams isn't really Santa, but he certainly knows how to bring joy and laughter to many people during the holiday season.   

(Remember, you can enlarge the images by clicking on each picture.)

P.S.  If you missed last week's post about my Victorian "angels and ancestors" Christmas tree, be sure to continuing scrolling down to read about this special tree.

1 comment:

The Blog Fodder said...

That is a great little town he has there.
Funny how people opposed the railway. Anything that smacks of progress that they have no input into nor control over, I guess. Human nature.