Greetings every one, and Happy Holidays.
Never occurred to me till recently there would be a forum for all things Christmas, so I am happy to find this site.
Many years ago a family member started painting the Wee Crafts and California Creations plastercraft Christmas village pieces. Over time, we collected quite a few pieces. In the late 80s (don't recall exact year) we started a small display at a local nursing home during the holiday season. The residents and their visitors really enjoyed it. For several years, it was displayed and grew larger every time.
Several residents suggested the village needed model trains, so one Christmas I placed a short piece of HO scale model train track across the village, and placed a small train set on the track. If I recall correctly, this was the first time the Christmas village was displayed on white styrofoam instead of the regular snow blanket. This was done so the train track would lay securely.
LOL, that was a PROBLEM! the train just sat their blocking a crossing, something you can see whenever you want in town (the town here is notorious for trains blocking an important street). The residents wanted the train to move!
The following Christmas, I brought some more track and made a loop for the train to run on. This went over quite a bit better with the visitors. We also added some store bought ceramic Christmas village pieces, and some plastic HO scale buildings. I had bought a rather large amount of styrofoam, and we needed more buildings to fill up the display.
Sometime in the early 90s, we came up with a name for our village, Winterview. Every year it was bigger, with more accessories and more buildings.
When I was out looking at model train items at a small hobby store in South Omaha, (Trainman's) the proprietor, Ron Beranek suggested we make a small portable version of Winterview for an up coming train show he was sponsoring at the Southroads Shopping Mall in Bellevue, Nebraska.
We talked it over, and thought a 4X8 foot version would be doable (and fun).
It was. The public really liked Winterview. We had an HO scale train run around the edge of the village, and it portrayed a town square and some residences and businesses.
We had so much fun doing the train show, I then contacted the Great American Train Show organizers and arranged for Winterview to be displayed at an upcoming event in Lincoln Nebraska. For that display, Winterview doubled in size to 4X16 feet.
Again, it was very well received, and we really enjoyed the people we met at the model train show.
For the show, we would 'pre-fab' Winterview. I would lay the train track and streets onto the sytrofoam and pin them down. We would mark where buildings would go, and when we got to the show, we would lay out the styrofoam pieces, and then just put out the buildings, trains, cars, accessories and trees. The Great American folks allowed several hours Friday afternoon and Saturday morning to get the displays and the sellers set up for the train show. It was all very exciting and very much fun.
We noticed immediately Winterview was very different from other model train displays
and layouts in the model train world. Winter portrayals and Christmas themes just weren't modeled then, and generally still aren't modeled even now. It is unusual to see even an autumn themed layout.
(an interesting exception is the enormous model train layout at the Clay County fairgrounds in Spencer Iowa. That layout portrays all 4 seasons, although without the total emphasis on the Christmas theme in the winter portion)
Our plaster buildings were also unusual, and as noted by several viewers, we do have some scale problems. (we acknowledge that, and as everything 'looks' good, we really don't worry about scale)
We use the 'brush' type evergreen trees (thank you Department 56 and Lemax) and in that time frame, we also used bare branch trees I fashioned from some wild shrubs that grow in this area.
(to be continued)