Citizens Bank downtown has an annual holiday toy train display that’s a must-see
One of Corvallis’ most enduring holiday traditions is assembled in the lobby of Citizens Bank in downtown Corvallis.
The elaborate G-scale toy train layout has been a fixture at the bank, 275 S.W. Third Street, for nearly two decades. G-scale model railways are often used outdoors because of their size and durability. This also makes them ideal for children.
In its 18th year, the Citizens Bank layout alternates each year between a Western theme and a European theme.The layout was the brainchild of Gene Thompson, a retired Citizens Bank board member, after he started buying trains for his grandchildren.
“I was reading a magazine about a guy in Los Angeles who worked in loans and savings,” Thompson said. “He would set up trains in the lobby of his building. So I thought it would be a good idea here.”
Thompson and group of about 10 volunteers helped set up the layout this past week. It will be displayed through the weekend after New Years. Citizens Bank is open 9:30 to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 9:30 to 6 p.m. Friday.
Thompson estimated that the group spent about 119 hours putting the layout together which is made up of about 75 feet of total track.
And this year the layout is of a Swiss village complete with snow, a ski slope and gondola cable cars.
“It could be the early 1900s or it could be right now,” Thompson said. “It’s up to your imagination.”
The train layout that features four Lehmann Gross Bahn model train engines, four bridges and six boats. And how’s this for detailed: it has a staggering 160 trees.
“We try to add something different every year,” said Ted Vaughan, who has helped to set up the layout all 18 years. “In fact, I don’t think we’ve ever had the same layout because it’s hard to remember everything.”
One new feature that Thompson is especially proud of is the rack railway that allows one of the engines to chug up a steep grade.
Rack railways have toothed rack rails, usually between the running rails. Trains are fitted with cog wheels or pinions that mesh with the rack railways, allowing them to run on steep grades.
And of course the layout features plenty of oddities. Last year’s layout had Oscar the Grouch in a garbage can and a dog wash.
This year, rumor has it, that Sasquatch is roaming the mountains of the quaint village.
Thompson and Vaughan said they want to keep the layout a fixture for as long as possible. They said if the layout stopped being displayed, they’d hear a lot of questions.
They shared stories of children visiting the train layout daily, as well as a letter from a woman telling how the train layout has inspired her grandson.
“It’s really a cute thing,” Vaughan said. “That’s my favorite part about putting this together, seeing the kids enjoy it.”