A Lifetime of Model Trains in One Room
I've done a lot of stories on model trains and I have another one for you. Inside a house in Millcreek is a room devoted entirely to model trains. I'm told I have to see it to believe it.
Vic Kraus owns the house and he's taking me down to a room in his basement. And by gosh, it is hard to believe. There's wall to wall trains here.
"I've got so much stuff here that it's hard to go through everything,” said Vic.
In this one room there are several tables with working model trains on top. On the walls, there are shelves and shelves lined with model locomotives and train cars. On the floor and under the tables are boxes and boxes with...you guessed it...model trains and the tracks that go with them. I asked Vic if he knew how many pieces were displayed on just one wall.
"I don't have a clue,” he said. “It's so staggering. I used to have 250 on the wall. I don't know how much I got on there now."
Vic is 85 years old and grew up in Erie on East 25th and Parade Streets. He was an only child and all the other children his age in the neighborhood were girls. At age 10 he spent time with his first model train. That very train is stored in this basement… somewhere. Vic does have another 1948 model train set up on a table.
"That's a Marx train,” he said. “That one used to be at the Sears store downtown before they put Jerry Uht Park in there."
The oldest train in Vic's collection is one made in 1917. It was owned by the doctor who brought Vic into this world. Vic was still a kid when the doctor's widow gave it to him. Vic remembers that day.
"She said, 'Anything in the garage you want, take it.’ And I said, 'Oh, I want that train."
The model trains that circle the track pass by toys Vic had as a child. There’s miniature cars and Civil War cannons. The buildings that adorn the train yard were built by Vic when he was 14. They were made from orange crates thrown out as garbage at an east side Loblaws.
Vic grew up to be an electrician. That explains the elaborate control panel he uses to operate all the trains, lights, and horns on his track.
Yes, you have to see it to believe it.
Vic still gets down to his basement every once in a while to work on his model trains. He says he spends most of his time doing yard work on his property in Millcreek. This year, he received a certificate marking 65 years as a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.