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Coupeville resident sharing his passion for trains

Miniature train enthusiast Jack Tingstad stands surrounded by his collection. Tingstad is holding his 13th-annual model railroad open house 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 30 and Sunday, Dec. 1. A donation for Gifts of the Heart food bank is requested for admission. The other photos show some of the details of Tingstad’s collection. - Sara Hansen/Whidbey News-Times
Miniature train enthusiast Jack Tingstad stands surrounded by his collection. Tingstad is holding his 13th-annual model railroad open house 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 30 and Sunday, Dec. 1. A donation for Gifts of the Heart food bank is requested for admission. The other photos show some of the details of Tingstad’s collection.
— image credit: Sara Hansen/Whidbey News-Times

Walking into the basement of Jack Tingstad’s house is like taking a trip back in time. Trains traverse the old railroads of Colorado, making their way through mining towns.

“It’s a great hobby, especially in the Northwest during the winter,” Tingstad said.

Tingstad will host his 13th model railroad open house from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 at his home on 508 Broadway St. Tingstad has volunteered at the food bank for 10 years, and asks those coming to see the trains bring a donation for Gifts of the Heart food bank.

The landscape depicted is of Colorado during the 1910s and 1920s. The reddish rocks and aspens enamored Tingstad, in addition to the rich history the state provides for an avid railroad enthusiast. Colorado is the most replicated area for model railroaders.

“If Colorado disappeared tomorrow, you could just get model railroaders to build it again,” Tingstad said.

Some of the places Tingstad depicts includes Salida, Tennessee Pass, Leadville, Silverton and Glenwood Springs. The station Tingstad built for Glenwood Springs is a scratch build — meaning he drew the plans himself and built it from raw materials not in a kit.

Other structures Tingstad has built have won awards over the years, such as his Crystal River Mine Structure which is also a scratch build.

Tingstad taught elementary for 25 years and retired in 1995, and has been working on model railroads since 1972. He likes sharing his hobby with others.

“The teacher thing was still there, and I wanted to teach people,” Tingstad said.

Tingstad wasn’t always into trains. In junior high he would work on model ships. His neighbor built model ships as well, and Tingstad would work on his current project with him. His neighbor also had a model train, but Tingstad didn’t pick that up as a hobby until later.

A model railroad is a multifaceted hobby because it involves scenery, structures and the operations of the trains, Tingstad said. He’s learned to paint, sculpt and build structures. To create scenes is technical. When putting a scene in the distance, the scale has to be right to create the illusion that it’s far away.

There are meetings in Oak Harbor every month for model railroad hobbists and about 35 people attend from all over the island, he said. Different speakers come to the meetings and inform attendees about different topics.

Tingstad also meets with a group who work on operations. As his hobby grew, he needed a bigger room in the house to display his work. Over the years he’s expanded the space to include an adjacent room to help stage train operations. By expanding the staging area to the other room, it creates more operating potential, Tingstad said.

One of Tingstad’s favorite scenes he’s made is of the convicts that are working on the opposite side of the railroad tracks. Even though the supervisors are separated from the prisoners when a train goes by, they can’t escape because the drop-off is their only escape route.

Tingstad likes visitors taking their time to discover all the little scenes he’s created over the years. Since the open house takes place during the holiday season, visitors will also have to find where Santa and his helper are hiding. Tingstad puts them out every year for people to try to spot.

With all the thoughtful care Tingstad puts into his work, attendees will be having a hard time finding every detail, but he encourages them to try.

 

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