Pocatello has long been known as the Gate City. It was pioneers, settlers, and eventually the railroad that made the community into a trade and transportation hub for the west. In our latest edition of Idaho Gems, we show you how the romance and fascination with the railroad is something that has become a lifelong hobby for one group of Pocatello hobbyists.

There are few things that capture the imagination quite like viewing something in miniature, little houses, little cars, little people. You can see mountain climbers and little trains.

For Larry Gilbreath, it’s a fascination that started at an early age.

Larry Gilbreath/Pocatello Model Railroad Society, “When i was about seven or eight, I got a Lionel Train for Christmas and I still have that train today.”

Larry and the other three dozen or so members of the Pocatello Model Railroad Society love to create these tiny looks at life.

Larry Gilbreath/Pocatello Model Railroad Society, “You can kind of travel the world in miniature without even going outside. What you see here is 30 years in the making. That’s one thing about this hobby you never seem to get finished. It’s always got something going.

The diorama has familiar scenes, some are local like the mountain ranges of Bannock County and landmarks from the past like the Inkom Cement Plant and the Oregon Shortline Round House, but many are simply scenes from everyday life.

Larry Gilbreath/Pocatello Model Railroad Society, “This layout can be Anywhere, USA.”

The diorama is housed along with a museum at the Union Pacific Rail Yard and members of the club work on it every Wednesday evening and then they open it up to the public the third Saturday of the month. That is when they enjoy running the trains along the miniature miles of track for others to see and enjoy.

Larry Gilbreath/Pocatello Model Railroad Society, “We have two mainlines. 240 feet of mainline and 1/87th scales so if you walked around it the whole railroad you walk a four mile hike.

Millie Stutz/Museum Visitor, “I like following them and seeing where they end up.”

Millie Stutz came from Salt Lake City, Utah and sees the small trains not just as toys but examples of what trains contribute to our lives.

Millie Stutz/Museum Visitor, “They’re transportation. They deliver things. They’ve been around a really long time.”

And with people like Larry, keeping watch over these tiny versions of the real things, hopefully they will endure as well.

This time of year is special for the Pocatello Model Railroad Society because they will have the museum open every Saturday until Christmas from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. There is no admission charge but they will gratefully accept donations. You can find more information about the society online at this link.


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